Canada off to semis
by Andrew Podnieks|09 JAN 2019
Canada's three-goal burst towards the end of the opening period was all it needed this afternoon.
Canada erupted for three quick goals in 84 seconds near the end of the first period en route to a 5-1 win over Russia. 
The result ensures both Canada and the U.S. will advance directly to the semi-finals while Russia and Sweden will play in the quarters tomorrow. The exact order of finish in Group A will be known after the U.S.-Sweden game later today.

Raygan Kirk, making her first career start in goal for Canada, faced only 11 shots while Canada fired 42 on a pair of Russian goalies.

"I found out this morning that I'd get the nod to go in, which is exciting," Kirk said after her first win. "I just took it like any other game, stay in the moment. I did my ball work, but we prepared as a team. I didn't get many shots, but you still have to be ready in case they come down and give you a couple."

"Our team showed character," said Russian general manager Vladislav Prodan, "but Canada was the better team today. We were confident before the game."
Russia was effective for most of the first, keeping Canada to the outside and limiting their scoring chances. In fact, the best chance of the period came off a two-on-one for Russia, but goalie Raygan Kirk, making a surprise start, made a sensational right toe save off a sure goal by captain Polina Luchnikova.
But late penalty trouble contributed to Russia’s downfall. Canada scored first when Alexie Guay’s point shot hit something in front and bounced in.
Just 36 seconds later, Canada made it 2-0 on a nice passing play by Rachel Weiss to Ann Cherkowski. And 28 seconds after that, back on the power play, Canada made it 3-0 when Grace Shirley got a rebound and found the back of the net.
That spelled the end for Daria Grezden as coach Yevgeni Bobariko replaced her with Anna Alpatova.
It was all Canada in the second as well. They made it 4-0 just 1:32 in when Teagan Grant rifled a nice slapper from the top of the circle that beat Alpatova cleanly. Alpatova, however, made several great saves during the period to keep the score moderately close.

The Russians got one back on an early power play of their own. Yelena Mezentseva made a nice pass of the rush to Yelizaveta Shkalyova who roofed a great shot over the shoulder of Kirk. It was Shkalyova's tourament-leading fourth goal.

Canada restored its four-goal bulge thanks to a five-on-three. Stephanie Markowski finished a nice passing play with a good shot that beat Alpatova.