BURLINGTON – Canada defeated Finland by a 5-1 score this afternoon at Gutterson Fieldhouse to earn a spot in the gold-medal game tomorrow night. Five different scorers got the goals for Canada.
The win keeps Canada’s record against the Finns perfect since women’s hockey started as an IIHF event in 1990 (17-0-0). As well, Canada has qualified for every women’s finals.
Canada held a decisive 43-15 advantage in shots.
"They came hard in the first period and scored a couple of quick goals. We can't let them do that," Finland's goalie Noora Raty noted. "We have to keep it close for as long as we can."
The Canadians jumped into an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Caroline Ouellette and Laura Fortino in the first five minutes, the latter coming on a delayed penalty. The goals gave Canada confidence in knowing that Raty wasn't going to be invincible today.
"The most important thing was for us to come out strong in the first five minutes," Meghan Agosta said. "That's something our coach told us to do, and we did it. We were in control."
Finnish coach Pekka Hamalainen called a timeout to settle his team down, but Canada had established that early lead which is so intimidating to the Europeans when they play the North Americans.
Canada held a decisive 14-4 shots advantage in the opening 20 minutes, and goalie Shannon Szabados had to make nary a tough save.
If Finland hoped to come out strong in the second and get back in the game, Meghan Agosta dashed those dreams with a goal at 2:06. She took the puck hard to the net, and although Raty made the first save, Agosta got the rebound and banged it in.
Nonetheless, the Finns continued to skate well and keep Canada to the outside. Although their chances of winning seemed slim now, they persisted—and were rewarded. Canada ran into penalty trouble, taking two in a row. Then, on another delayed call, Karoliina Rantamaki’s slapshot beat Szabados to the far side to make it a 3-1 game.
In all, Canada took four minors in the period in addition to the delayed call which led to the goal, a habit which will likely cost them dearly if they play the United States for gold.
"We were working hard," Agosta explained. "When you work hard, sometimes penalties will happen. We have to win battles, and it just so happens that we got penalties."
"We played our best in the second period," Raty said. "In the first and third we were bad. We just have to practise our power play more and get more shots."
Marie-Philip Poulin and Courtney Birchard added goals in the third. Poulin knocked in another rebound that the defence failed to clear while Birchard's marker came with the man advantage.