UTICA, New York (AP) — Kirsten Simms scored 3:38 into overtime to lift the United States to a 1-0 preliminary round win over rival Canada on Monday, and clinch the Americans the Group A title heading into the women’s world hockey championship playoffs.

Aerin Frankel stopped 26 shots for her second shutout of the tournament and the defending world champion U.S. finished Group A play with a 4-0 record. The 19-year-old Simms is one of four college newcomers to the American team, and coming off a season at Wisconsin in which she led women’s college hockey in scoring.

Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped 29 shots, including the first six she faced in overtime as Canada (3-1) finished second in Group A play.

The Americans advance to the quarterfinals on Thursday, when they’ll play Group B’s third-place team, which will be determined after preliminary round play ends on Tuesday. Canada, meantime, will face Sweden in the quarterfinals. It’s a rematch of last year’s world championship quarterfinals, when Canada pulled out a 3-2 overtime win.

With both sides playing three-on-three in overtime, Simms scored to convert a three-on-one break after Canada’s Brianne Jenner fell and coughed up the puck in the U.S. zone. Caroline Harvey led the rush up the left win and centered to Simms, who was able to get off a shot despite her stick being pulled from behind by Canada’s Jocelyne Larocque.

Larocque’s back-checking changed the trajectory of the puck, which fooled Desbiens in beating her low between the skates.

The game was a relentless back-and-forth affair that’s become customary in what’s been a decadeslong rivalry between the sport’s two major powers. The United States, which has won 10 gold medals to the Canada’s 12, improved to 18-17 against the Canadians in world championship play — and the teams are now tied in having scored 98 goals each against each other.

The U.S, which defeated Canada 6-3 in the world championship gold-medal game last year, bounced back after losing four straight to the Canadians in a best-of-seven Rivalry Series held this past winter.

There remains a very good likelihood the two nations will meet once again in the tournament final on Sunday.

With the assist, Harvey not only set up her college teammate, but made up for a missed opportunity to open the scoring on a two-on-one break 2:45 into the third period.

Driving up the right side, Taylor Heise faked a shot, which froze Desbiens, before sending the puck across to Harvey, who missed the entire open side by lifting the puck over the net.

Some 20 seconds earlier, Desbiens got across to her left to stop Abbey Murphy, who was set up by a Heise pass at the post.

Canada was outshot 7-0 in the extra period, but had several chances to score only to be turned aside by Frankel.

Frankel got a piece of Emma Maltais’ hard shot from the left circle with six minutes left in regulation. And the goalie was sharp in turning aside Natalie Spooner’s shot on a two-on-one break with 3:30 left in the second period.


AP Women’s Hockey: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-hockey