BURLINGTON – Canada got its first win of the 2012 Women’s World Championship this afternoon at Gutterson Fieldhouse, but it was a surprisingly narrow and hard-fought 3-2 win over a Finnish team that came up with an inspired performance.
The two teams are now tied with 1-1 records, good for three points each and second place in the Group A standings.
Shots on goal favoured Canada 43-15, but goalie Noora Raty stood tall for Finland and gave her country a chance to beat Canada for the first time. For Canada, coming off an horrific 9-2 loss to the U.S. last night, the result helped get the team going again.
"The Finns are a good test, but it's just another step on our journey here," captain Hayley Wickenheiser said. "I thought it was a good game, and their goaltender played quite well. The score could have been worse."
"We battled and skated with them," Raty said. "Usually they have more speed than we do, but we were in the game the whole time. I think we will face them again in the semi-finals, and they have some weaknesses. If we can solve those, we will be fine."
The first period was an uneventful one for Canada. Coming off its worst game ever last night, the team took three penalties in quick succession and had to kill off a lengthy five-on-three at one point. Players couldn’t connect with their passes, and the Finns played an impressive, stifling, and very successful defence.
"Early on we got some stick penalties because we weren't moving our feet. We can't have that. We have to be better," Wickenheiser acknowledged.
The only goal of the period came from newcomer Laura Fortino who fired a hard wrist shot past goalie Noora Raty at 14:12.
The Canadians came out and made it 2-0 just 13 seconds into the second period. Some nice forechecking from Marie-Philip Poulin forced a turnover, and Caroline Ouellette snapped a quick shot home for the goal.
But just when it might have seemed Canada was getting its legs, the Finns continued to skate and check tenaciously, creating havoc between the blue lines and frustrating Canada. Later in the period, the Finns produced a shock to Canada’s nervous system, scoring a short-handed goal.
Michelle Karvinen sprung Venla Hovi free with a breakaway pass, and Hovi made no mistake, deking Shannon Szabados and roofing a backhand into the top of the net.
Gillian Apps made it a two-goal game again midway through the third, but less than a minute later, on a power play, Karoliina Rantamaki made it 3-2 when she deflected Jenni Hiirikoski's point shot at 10:28.
Finland pressed for thr tying goal and had a two-man advantage for the last 26 seconds of the game thanks to a Canadian penalty and Raty on the bench, but it couldn't tie the game and Canada skated off winners--barely.
"We have a good team, but we have to score on our chances," said Finnish defenceman Saija Tarkki. "We played well. It was a few little thnigs that made the difference."
"It wasn't pretty, and it definitely wasn't our best game," Szabados admitted. "We were saying in the dressing room, a win's a win."
Canada plays its final game of the preliminary round robin against Russia on Tuesday while the Finns tangle with the Americans that same day.