USA – Russia 6-1 (2-0, 3-0, 1-1)
BUDAPEST – Team USA got off on the right track in its Women's U18 Worlds opener against Russia, controlling the game from start to finish and outshooting their opponent 54-17 on the way to a 6-1 win.
“We have a great team and a great chemistry, but I think our real strength lies in our defence,” said head coach Jeff Kampersal. “Our centers are strong at winning faceoffs and we have kids that are ready to shoot the puck.”
It was all USA from the start as the Americans kept Russia pinned in its own zone. The U.S. broke the ice with a goal 6:55 into the game, when Maliya Rodgers found an open Abby Roque beside the net with a great pass from beyond the blue line.
“Yeah we always try to get that first goal of the game,” said Rodgers. “We really work hard and get dirty on the corners.”
Taylor Williamson made the score 2-0, while Russia was only able to muster up six shots on net in the first period.
With Russian goaltender Valeriya Tarakanova playing admirably despite being under siege by the Americans for most of the game, her team was unable to put pressure on the American goal, as the U.S. defence was quick to pounce on any miscues and send the puck back in the opposite direction.
Still Tarakanova was able to keep the score at 2-0 up until midway through the second period when Rodgers and Jincy Dunne assisted on a goal from Baylee Wellhausen. Then the floodgates opened and two more scores, one from Taylar Cianfarano and the other from Sophie Skarzynski, put the game out of reach.
Team USA will next face off against tournament host Hungary, while Russia has a date with Sweden.
Canada – Japan 7-1 (3-1, 2-0, 2-0)
Canada faced a tough Japanese team but pulled away in the second period, coming out on top 7-1. Victoria Bach had two goals and earned Best Player honours as Canada moved to 1-0 to begin its title defence.
In what was a closer game than the scoresheet would indicate, Canada made the difference through its ability to capitalize on scoring chances, giving the team a comfortable cushion by the end of the second period.
Japan had a golden opportunity score the opening goal, being gifted a two-man advantage almost right from the opening faceoff as both Rebecca Leslie was called for tripping and Canada’s Samantha Fieseler cleared the puck out of bounds less than a minute into the game. But Japan's forwards could not find the back of the net and eight minutes after Canada killed off the penalties Bach snuck the puck in past Aya Kamimura for the opening score.
But Japan answered right back with a great goal from Suzuka Taka, coming in on a two-on-one with linemate Chiaki Soda and roofing the puck past Kassidy Sauve.
Eve-Audrey Picard put her team back up soon after with a shot from the inside circle that beat Kamimura under her arm. Then with just over three minutes to go in the period forward Sarah Potomak deflected a shot through Kamimura’s legs to give the Canadians a 3-1 advantage.
Canada padded its lead in the second period with a goal from Samantha Cogan and another from Bach coming short-handed. Leslie and Hannah Miller added two more as Canada cruised the rest of the way.
The Canadians will take on Finland next, while Japan plays Finland. Both games are on Monday and will be streamed live.