Canada’s national women’s team needed some time to get their legs under them as they touched down in Finland last week for three games in Helsinki and Turku.
Canada, the defending women’s world champion, opened the three-game set with a 4-2 win on Thursday but the victory didn’t come easy. Canada struggled to find its offence in the first period but did open to scoring when Victoria Bach beat Meeri Raisanen at the 14:32 mark. Canada and Finland stayed tight in shots in the first but Canada came out guns a blazing in the second, scoring two goals during a period in which it outshot the Finns 23-3. Canada ended up holding a significant advantage in shots in the game at 44-19 and won the game 4-2, with the other goals coming from Marie-Philip Poulin, Melodie Daoust and Jocelyne Larocque. Emerance Maschmeyer stopped 17 shots for the win in goal.
Petra Nieminen and Elisa Hopolainen scored Finland’s goals in front of 2,041 fans.
Game 2 of the series on Saturday was the most one-sided of the bunch, with Natalie Spooner leading the way with a hat trick in Canada’s 8-0 win. Kristen Campbell, in her national tam debut, made 13 saves for her first win and shutout. Poulin scored twice, Daoust had a goal and two assists, and Jaime Bourbonnais and Laura Stacey scored Canada’s other goals, while Claire Thompson had three helpers.
“I think our team as a whole, we were rolling today and creating a lot of offence,” said Spooner. “It’s always nice when they’re going in for you and I thought my line did a really good job of getting pucks to the net and I was able to bury some. Our team really talked about getting off to a good start and setting the tone. For (Victoria Bach) to make that pass to me in the first period for a breakaway, it felt pretty good to bury that one and set the tone for the game.”
Canada completed the three-game sweep a day later with a 5-1 win. Bach scored twice, Brianne Jenner had a goal and two assists and Sarah Fillier and Ella Shelton each had a goal and assist. Ann-Renee Desbiens earned the win in net. Susanna Tapani scored Finland’s lone marker.
Canada seems to be firing on all cylinders as it prepares for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Canada will continue its rivalry series versus the United States on Nov. 21 in Kingston, Ontario after winning the first two games of the series on Oct. 22 and 25, with both games taking place in the US.
Emily Clark scored two goals, including an empty-netter, as Canada opened the nine-game rivalry series with a 3-1 win Allentown, Pennsylvania. Three nights later in Hartford, Connecticut, Fillier broke a 2-2 tie with a powerplay goal in the third period to give Canada a 3-2 win. It was Fillier’s second goal of the game, with Bach also scoring for Canada.
The rivalry series will see the teams play seven more times between now and early January with games taking place throughout Canada and the United States. The frequency of games should add more heat to an already sizzling rivalry.
“We’re really excited to play in Kingston,” says Bach. “It’s close to my hometown so a lot of family can come watch. With Covid-19 we haven’t had fans, so we’re all really excited to play on home soil and get to play against our rivals. We’re really looking forward to it.”
European sweep against Asian teamsIn other women’s hockey action, Switzerland and Japan played a three-game series in Romanshorn from 11-13 November. Switzerland won all three games but each of the matches were close, with the Swiss coming out on the better end of 2-1, 3-2 and 5-2 scores.
Phoebe Staenz and Lara Stalder scored in the second period for the Swiss in the Game 1 win, with Haruka Toko getting a goal in the third to make it close.
Staenz once again opened the scoring in the second game but Japan would get two goals in the middle frame – from Mei Miura and Sena Suzuki – to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. Midway through the third, Lara Christen tied the game up at 2-2 to force overtime and, just 1:14 into the OT period, Laura Zimmermann was the hero to give the Swiss a 3-2 win.
Staenz scored two more goals in the third and final game of the series and Switzerland’s other goals came from Nicole Bullo, Lena Lutz and Alina Marti in the 5-2 win. Rui Ukita and Remi Koyama replied for the Japanese.
In the Moscow suburb of Mytishi where Chinese club team Kunlun Red Star has its base for both the men’s and women’s team, the Chinese women’s national team played host country Russia in two games. The Russians won the first game 3-1 but needed a shootout for a 2-1 victory in the second game.
All teams used the mini-series as a tune-up for the upcoming Olympics. The top-five teams will play in Group A including the United States, Canada, Finland, ROC and Switzerland, while Group B includes Japan, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark and host China. The Swedes, Czechs and Danes all qualified for Beijing 2022 at last weekend’s final qualification tournament in Lulea, Sweden.
The preliminary round is played in two tiers and the five teams in Group A and the top-three teams from B will advance to the quarter-finals at the Olympics.
|Games in Finland|
|11 Nov.||Helsinki (FIN)||Finland||Canada||2-4|
|13 Nov.||Turku (FIN)||Finland||Canada||0-8|
|14 Nov.||Turku (FIN)||Finland||Canada||1-5|
|Games in Switzerland|
|11 Nov.||Romanshorn (SUI)||Switzerland||Japan||2-1|
|12 Nov.||Romanshorn (SUI)||Switzerland||Japan||3-2 OT|
|13 Nov.||Romanshorn (SUI)||Switzerland||Japan||5-2|
|Games in Russia|
|3 Nov.||Mytishi (RUS)||China||Russia||1-3|
|5 Nov.||Mytishi (RUS)||China||Russia||1-2 SO|