Finns skate to first win
by Andrew Podnieks|25 AUG 2021
Finland's Jenniina Nylund #25 celebrates her first-period goal with Noora Tulus #40.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
It wasn't a Rembrandt. Heck, it wasn't even a Jackson Pollock. But Finland scored three goals in the opening period en route to a 4-0 win over ROC this afternoon. It was their first win of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship after starting with consecutive losses to the North Americans, and it featured only 31 total shots, just one off the low record for fewest shots by both teams in a game (18-13 for Finland).

Sanni Keisala earned the shutout for Finland while ROC used both their goalies. This marked the 13th time in 15 games so far that the losing team has scored either zero or one goal (eight shutouts).

The Finns used their superior skating and playmaking to overcome a ROC team determined to play a physically demanding game. Several players on both sides went down with minor injuries, but there were only five minor penalties called in the game.

The win means Finland’s game against Switzerland tomorrow will determine third place in Group A. Third place will mean a date with the top team in Group B in the quarter-finals. A Finland win will give Suomi that spot, but a Swiss win in regulation could see a variety of placings depending on the score.

The loss ends the preliminary round for ROC, and they scored only four goals in four games while giving up 16. Up next will be the quarter-finals against an opponent yet to be determined.
ROC vs Finland - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship
Finland scored three goals in the opening period en route to a 4-0 win over ROC this afternoon. It was their first win of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
ROC FIN 25 AUG 2021
"We're going to have to play better in the playoffs," said ROC coach Yevgeni Bobariko, "and I think we will. We have two days to rest, practise, and look back at our games in the preliminary round. We'll be ready."

For Finland, the game was a great depature in style from their first two games, but coach Pasi Mustonen was unhappy with how his team coasted through the final two periods after building a solid lead.

"They like to take chances when they are pressed," Mustonen said of ROC. "It's not easy to play them tactically. They often leave the high forward ready to jump into the attack. But for us, I was only pleased by the great first period. We were extremely well focused and prepared for the game, and then, we lost everything. You could see it in the dressing room after the first period. The game was over in the heads of some of our players, and that's why we played a catastrophic second period. That's typical for a young team. You believe you are very good, and that's it. It should have been 3-3 after the second period, but it wasn't, thanks to Keisala."

The Finns opened the scoring at 8:07 off the rush. Michelle Karvinen drove down the right wing and waited patiently for teammate Susanna Tapani to go to the net. Karvinen waited and waited, and at the perfect moment put the puck on Karvinen’s stick for the goal.

Four and a half minutes later, the Finns made it 2-0 when Karvinen’s long shot went in and out of the glove of goalie Valeria Merkusheva. Petra Nieminen was there to swat the rebound in at 12:33. 

Three minutes after that, Noora Tulus made a great pass across the crease to Jenniina Nylund coming hard to the back side of the net, and as with the first goal Nylund merely redirected the perfect pass in.

That spelled the end for Merkusheva, who was replaced by Nadezhda Morozova.

Teams settled in to a more defensive mode for the second period, and although there wasn’t a goal there were chances with the extra skater. ROC incurred two of the three minor penalties, but neither team was able to cash in.

Olga Sosina had ROC's best scoring chance early in the third on the power play. She took a pass in centre ice and flew down the right wing, beating Keisala with a shot to the far side but hitting the post. That bit of bad luck cost ROC. Just a few minutes later Finland made it 4-0 off a faceoff win in the offensive end. Nieminen cut in on the short side of goal and lifted a puck over the shoulder of Morozova at 4:50, putting the game out of reach.

"I got the puck on my backhand, and I saw I was alone if I went to the goal," Nieminen explained. "I went to the net and got a backhand, and it went in."

"We played well in the second and third periods," said ROC defender Anna Shibanova. "We tried to be aggressive, get control of the puck and move up ice, but after the Finns scored the first goal we fell apart for the rest of the period. That was our main problem today."
ROC vs Finland - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship