ZURICH – The single game attendance record for a World Women's Championship game outside Canada is 5,632 at the Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 8, 2001, for the Canada-U.S. gold-medal game. The European record in 5,247 for a game in Espoo, Finland, on March 14, 1999, for that year’s Canada-U.S. gold-medal tilt.
Can Switzerland better this mark for the gold-medal game this year? It’ll be another classic Canada-United States showdown, so anyone who wants to see the best women hockey players on the planet have one chance this year – at the Hallenstadion tonight.
Canada and the United States play for gold for the 13th straight time at the World Women’s Championship, but first the young Finns take on the surprising Russians for bronze.
Finland-Russia, 16.00 Hallenstadion
- There’s good news and bad news for Russian fans. The bad news is that they have beaten Finland only once at the World Women’s. The good news is that that win came in the 2001 bronze medal game.
- Finland has ten newcomers on the team and has scored only 12 goals in five games. Worse, two of those players account for seven of the goals, Michelle Karvinen with four and Karoliina Rantamäki with three.
- At the other end, goalie Noora Räty has been sensational, perhaps the best goalie at the tournament. She has allowed just eight goals in four games and has a 1.99 goals-against average.
- Russia has also scored just 12 goals, but the distribution is more even as eight players have at least one.
- The Russian team has given up 30 goals, by far the highest number in the tournament (Switzerland is second with 19). Goaltending is one of the team’s Achilles heel. Anna Prugova has been unimpressive, but in the last game against the Americans she made several fine saves.
- Oddly, these are the two most penalized teams in the event as well, Finland accruing 68 penalty minutes and Russia 64. Russia has also surrendered the most power-play goals – eight on just 31 opponents’ chances.
- Russia started off with two bad losses (7-1, 13-1) and has played pretty well its last three games, notably its incredible 5-4 overtime win against Switzerland after trailing 3-0 in the third period.
- Finland has been consistent and impressive, playing a defensive style that has proved successful.
United States-Canada, 20.00 Hallenstadion
- The teams have played 16 times at the World Women’s, Canada winning eleven times, including nine gold medals to the U.S.’s three.
- Canada has two shutouts in those games and the U.S. one, suggesting whoever wins tonight won’t win without giving up at least one goal.
- Canada has scored three goals ten times, winning nine, while the U.S. has scored three goals seven times, with a 4-3 record.
- Only twice have games gone to overtime, and only once to a shootout (2005), won by the U.S.
- Seven of the 16 games have been decided by one goal and four by two goals.
- The last time the teams played a meaningful game was in the gold medal game in Vancouver last year. Two factors stand out in Canada’s 2-0 win in that game – Marie-Philip Poulin’s two goals, and the sensational goaltending of Shannon Szabados. Canada’s coach Ryan Walter has used all three of his goalies, but Szabados, mysteriously, only once.
- A strange difference between the two countries is that Canada has had a male coach only four times, including Walter, and the Americans have had a female coach only three times, including Katey Stone this year.
- Both teams are 1-2 in virtually every significant statistical category this year. The U.S. leads with 32 goals scored; Canada is second with 25.
- The U.S. has nine power-play goals in 20 chances, Canada six in 21.
- Canada has yet to allow a short-handed goal in 15 chances against; the Americans have allowed one in 21 chances.
- Canada has allowed just one goal in four games, the U.S. three in four.
- Oddly, the U.S. has dominated the Worlds in the last six years, winning in 2005, 2008, and 2009 and losing only in 2007, but Canada has dominated at the Olympics, winning the last three (2002, 2006, 2010). Does Canada peak at the right time? Is the USA Hockey program more tailored to the Worlds? Patterns will be continued or broken tonight.