STOCKHOLM – The favourites didn’t give the challengers any chances in the first games of the World Women's U18 Championship. Canada beat Switzerland 9-1, Team USA shut out the Czechs 11-0, Germany squeaked by Finland with 1-0, and the hosts, Sweden, downed Japan 2-1.USA - the Czech Republic, 11-0
Amanda Pelkey scored a hat trick and added an assist, leading Team USA’s offence in an opening round rout against the Czechs. The Americans outshot their opponents 75-8 in the game.
The Czechs had trouble keeping up with the Americans, forcing them to take penalties, and Team USA had over 13 minutes of power play in the game, scoring three times while playing with a one-man advantage.
The Americans didn’t let up, and scored five goals in the middle frame and four in the last.
“We have to focus on what we do, and keep ourselves to a higher standard. We’re trying to be our best selves,” said head coach Jodi McKenna.
“You want to keep doing the things you do well, while staying respectful of the game and the opponent. There are certain points in the game you can start focusing on other things, like puck movement, deeper presence in the, that we can work on,” she added.
For the U.S., the first game was a breeze.
“There are certain things we want to be known for as a team and tonight we started to establish that we’re a hard-working, disciplined team. We did that today, and will continue to do so,” she said.
Note: Team USA wears the initials of Elizabeth Turgeon on their helmets in the tournament, to honour the memory of the daughter of former NHLer, Pierre Turgeon. Elizabeth Turgeon, a member of the under-18 team in 2008, passed away in a car accident last week.
Canada - Switzerland, 9-1
Team Canada showed that it can score goals every possible way, getting two power-play goals and one while playing shorthanded, to go with the seven equal-strength goals against the Swiss, a team that was promoted from Division I last season.
The Swiss got the best possible start for the game, when Canada’s Meghan Dufault received a tripping minor just 54 seconds into the game, but they couldn’t convert their chance. Instead, at 5:43, Rebecca Kohler gave Canada the lead on power play.
And then there was no stopping Canada, especially after the team extended its lead into two goals with just 36 seconds remaining in the first period, with Shelby Bram beating Sandra Heim in Switzerland’s goal.
Canada outshot Switzerland 21-11 in the first period, and 59-25 in the game.
Kohler and Dufault scored two goals and three points each, and Cayley Mercer netted one and added two assists for three points.
Phoebe Stanz got Switzerland’s lone goal in the second period.
Canada didn't give the Swiss a chance. (Photo by Francois Laplante /HHOF-IIHF Images)
Germany - Finland, 1-0
The teams that finished fourth and fifth in last year’s tournament showed how even a low scoring game can be entertaining. Both teams had excellent scoring chances, but the goalies - Germany’s Nadja Krüber and Finland’s Isabella Portnoj - were even better.
The first period was scoreless, and for almost 20 minutes, it looked like the goalies would be able to turn away all pucks in the second period as well, but with ten seconds remaining, Portnoj stopped the puck behind her net. It ended up in Eva Byszio’s stick, and she sent it to the front of the net where it hit a Finnish defenceman’s skate and continued its travel to the net.
“It was a lucky goal. We lost an exhibition game to Finland recently, clearly, so we’re just happy to win this game. It was one of our key games,” said head coach Werner Schneider.
Finland pressed the Germans hard in the third period, and pulled Portnoj with 40 seconds remaining in favour of a sixth skater, but couldn’t beat Krüber in Germany’s goal.
Finland controlled the game, outshooting Germany 28-24, but couldn’t score on their chances.
“Our goalie did a really good job, as did our defence. Theresa Fritz is small, but she was really good today, as was the line with Jacqueline Janzen and Tanja Eisenschmid,” the German coach added.
Finland’s Susanna Tapani got a game misconduct in the second period for high sticking, and Noora Tulus left the ice in the third period after colliding with her linemate, Anni Rantanen.
Germany's late second period goal turned out to be the winner. (Photo by Francois Laplante /HHOF-IIHF Images)
Sweden - Japan, 2-1
The hosts dominated the game, outshooting Japan 41-19, but couldn’t capitalize on their chances. They did come out on top in the end, getting three points with their 2-1 win.
The home ice, the first game in a home tournament gave the Swedes a kick at the beginning of the game, and Linn Peterson turned the energy into a goal in her first shift, just 1:10 into the first period.
Japan tied the game in the second period, with a goal by Runa Moritake, but halfway through the game Sweden got its chance. Japan had only two penalties in the game, and while they killed off the first one to start the second period, Sweden only needed five seconds of the second penalty to grab the lead when Emma Martinsson beat Shizuka Takahashi in Japan’s goal.
Japan made Sweden sweat for the points. (Photo: Phillip MacCallum / HHOF-IIHF Images)