Canada fights back for win
by Andrew Podnieks|20 AUG 2021
Canada's Jamie Rattray #47 celebrates after scoring a second-period goal against Finland's Anni Keisala.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Finland jumped into a 2-0 lead over Canada for the first time in Women’s World Championship history, but a go-ahead goal by newcomer Sarah Hillier at 7:38 of the third period propelled Canada to a 5-3 win in the opening game of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship for both teams.

The game had an interesting twist to it in that Finland’s starting goalie, Anni Keisala, had only one previous period’s worth of experience at the senior Women’s Worlds, and that came back in 2016, which was also the last time Canada faced Finland in a game in which Noora Raty did not start. In 2016, Keisala replaced her backup tonight, Meeri Raisanen, for the third period, against Canada, in a 6-1 loss in which she allowed one goal on nine shots. 

Interestingly, the starting goalie in that game for Canada was also tonight’s backup, Emerance Maschmeyer. Everything old is new again! Some eight Canadian skaters tonight were also in that game five years ago.

"I think when you have energy and a no-quit attitude and you add grit, good things are going to happen," said forward Brianne Jenner.

"We played possibly the world's best team right now, Canada, and they are a strong team when they get the momentum, which they got in the second period," said Finland coach Pasi Mustonen. "We were better in the firts period, actually, and played a wonderful period, but games go in waves, so I wasn't surprised by how they played in the second period. But we have eight new players playing in their first Worlds, so you might expect we wouldn't dominate. We have a total generation shift, so I'm quite satisfied with the way we played."
Canada vs Finland - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship
CAN FIN 20 AUG 2021
Tonight it was all Finland at the start, thanks to some tenacious play, a little good fortune, and some tentative play by Canada. The Canadians failed to get the puck out two minutes into the game, and Nelli Laitinen fired a quick shot on goal that his Canadian defender Jaime Bourbonnais and found the back of the net at 2:08.

Moments later, goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens made a great save on a breakaway from Susanna Tapani, created off a turnover at centre, but soon after Canada ran into penalty trouble, incurring two quick minors and giving the Finns a two-skater advantage. They connected when Minnamari Tuominen’s point shot found its way through traffic and over the shoulder of Desbiens at 6:05.

Canada recovered a bit and had decent possession but they failed to get many quality chances on Keisala in the opening period.

"I wouldn't say the first was a horrible period," Jenner continued. "There were some things we liked, some things we didn't like. We know Finland has a great power play, and unfortunately we didn't stop them in the first period. But we responded in the second."

Indeed, all that Finnish domination changed in the second, clearly the result of words being said in the Canadian dressing room between periods. The hosts overwhelmed Finland to the tune of 25 shots to 2, but for the longest time it looked like timely saves from Keisala and determined shot-blocking by her teammates would keep Canada at bay. 

Finally, though, at 14:41 Canada got on the board after another lengthy possession in the Finland end when a quick shot in front by Jamie Lee Rattray squeezed through Keisala’s pads and trickled over the goal line.

Just 21 seconds later, captain Marie-Philip Poulin tied the game on a shot from the top of the circle that hit bodies in front and dipped in. 

Canada took its first lead early in the third off a double deflection in front. Claire Thompson's point shot was tipped first by Jenner and then Erin Ambrose at 2:42, and it looked like Canada was on its way to victory.

Not so fast. The Finns tied the game four and a half minutes later off a faceoff win by Canada in its own end. They failed to control the puck, and a quick point shot from Rosa Lindstedt was tipped by Elisa Holopainen in front. 

Just 25 seconds later, though, the 21-year-old Fillier scored the go-ahead goal when Natalie Spooner's wraparound was stopped by Keisala but Fillier pounced on the rebound.

Canada incurred a late penalty and Mustonen pulled Keisala for the two-skater advantage, but Canada held the fort. Jenner added an empty netter with 43.2 seconds left to seal the victory.

Both teams have a day off now. On Sunday, Canada plays ROC in the middle game and the night match has the Finns taking on The U.S.
Canada vs Finland - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship