Canada starts with a W
by Andrew Podnieks|06 APR 2023
Canada started off with a dominating win over Switzerland.
photo: Matt Zambonin / IIHF
Two-time defending gold medallists Canada started their drive for a three-peat with an impressive 4-0 win over Switzerland at CAA Centre tonight. The win keeps Canada perfect against the Swiss all time, now 11-0 with a whopping goals differential of 81-2, nine of those wins by shutout.

"I think it was a great game," said Sarah Nurse, one of four goalscorers for Canada. "There are little details that we'd like to tighten up for sure but in the last few days of practice we've worked a lot on special teams, our forecheck. We won the special teams battle and I think we executed what we needed to today."


"We fought hard, but we lost," offered Swiss captain Lara Stalder. "If we got one early, during the 5-on-3, it might have been different. The first period was pretty even. It’s the beginning of the tournament. It was a bit more physical and emotional, but as long as it’s both ways, that’s fine."

Both teams get a day off now, but it doesn’t get any easier for the Swiss. They play the U.S. on Friday followed by a late Czechia-Canada tilt.

Canada was relentless on the puck in the opening period, slowed only by three minor penalties in the first ten minutes, including a lengthy two-skater disadvantage, but the penalty killers were perfect. When order was restored, Canada opened the scoring at 11:42, capitalizing on a gaffe by goalie Andrea Brandli. She came out to play a puck on an icing call and then muffed the pass to a teammate. Natalie Spooner was right there to corral the disc and snap a shot into the cage before the goalie could get set. 

The goal capped a remarkable comeback for the 32-year-old Spooner, who gave birth to a son, Rory, on December 6, a mere 120 days ago.

"It was awesome, just to get back out there with my teammates," mommy Spooner enthused. "I was having a blast and obviously playing with Filly and Nurse, it's always so much fun. [Motherhood] is a lot for me to juggle, but he's got so many aunties around him! They hold him at meals and make sure he's happy so I can eat. My mom is also here helping. It's been great and he's been pretty happy around the girls, which is great. He loves them."

Less than three minutes later, Canada doubled its lead on a power play when a Sarah Nurse shot from point-blank range found its way in at 14:27. The Swiss had a great chance to get back into the game late, but Alina Marti was stoned by Ann-Renee Desbiens on a breakaway, Desbiens calmly kicking her left pad out to stop Marti’s shot.

The second became a chipper and more physical period, and the referees let the players play with a little more lenient rule book as far as bodychecking, but both sides were equally aggressive, so it all evened out. Canada got the only goal of the period early, on another power play. This time Rebecca Johnston banged home a loose puck in front at 1:44 to make it 3-0.

"I think it's always fun to be able to score," siad Johnston, who played at the Beijing Olympics but missed the 2022 Women's Worlds because of an injury. "So that was nice, but just helping contributing as much as I can for this team to help us win is really the ultimate goal."

Later in the frame Alina Muller made a speedy rush before laying a soft pass to the trailer, Janine Hauser, and she unleashed a shot that beat Debiens cleanly but hit the post and stayed out.

At the other end, Brandli was sparkling, keeping the game close even if the players in front of her weren't able to mount much offence. Canada finally got a fourth goal at 14:07 of the third thanks to a turnover at the Swiss blue line. Sarah Fillier finished the play with a quick shot in front.