U.S. stays perfect on Easter Sunday
by Andrew Podnieks|09 APR 2023
The U.S. overcame an uneven first period to defeat Czechia.
photo: Matt Zambonin / IIHF
The U.S. improved to 3-0 in round-robin play in Brampton and also to 4-0 in games played on Easter Sunday after defeating a stubborn Czech team, 6-2. The win moves the Americans above Canada into top spot of the Group A standings by virtue of a superior goals differential and sets the stage for the expected thrilling showdown tomorrow night between the North Americans for that coveted first place.

The loss leaves Czechia in third place with two points and one game remaining, on Tuesday against Switzerland.

Today's game featured 16 minors (12 to the U.S.), a major, and a game misconduct. The result was that Czechia had a whopping 22:24 of power-play time in the game to just 4:58 for the U.S.


"We're going to hit the reset button," said American defender Megan Keller. "We have a quick turnaround and a tough game mentally and physically tomorrow. Our team did a great job killing off those penalties as a group and sticking to it. The penalties kind of ruined the flow, but that's hockey sometimes."

"We have to shoot more for sure," lamented Czech Sara Cajanova of her team's woes on the power play. "We played so much time [on the power play], not going to the net, passing it around. So we have to shoot more."

"We like to play a physical game, so if we're going to be faulted for that then so be it. It's a huge part of our identity and how we like to play," said forward Alex Carpenter. "We came from an off day, so we started a little bit slowly, I think, and they took advantage of that."

The last Easter Sunday appearance for the U.S. was April 8, 2012, when they whitewashed Russia to the tune of 9-0.

The only other meetings between these teams came just last year. The Americans won at the Olympics, 4-1, and later at the Women’s Worlds, 10-1.

"They're one of the best in the world, so you don't expect anything but a great effort from them," acknowledged Czechia coach Carla MacLeod. "They got us on our heels at the start, but I thought we fought our way back. These are the games you want to play. You can learn and grow."

The U.S. thought they had opened the scoring early when Tessa Janecke beat Blanka Skodova high to the short side at 2:36, but the Czechs challenged the play for offside and were ruled correct. No goal.

No matter. The Americans got a legit one four minutes later off a broken play in front of Skodova, Megan Keller sliding the loose puck between the goalie’s pads for her 10th career goal in her 37th career Women’s Worlds game. Unfazed, the Czechs capitalized on their first solid chance. Tereza Pistekova slid the puck over to Denisa Krizova, and she beat Aerin Frankel between the pads at 7:59 on their first power play to make it a 1-1 score. Frankel was making her first career start with the senior team.

The Czechs then faced a 3-on-5 for 63 seconds which they killed off expertly, and later in the period took the lead off another opportunity which they cashed in on. The U.S. defence allowed Sara Cajanova to walk in on goal, and she beat Frankel five-hole again, stunning the crowd in the process. It was Cajanova’s first career goal with the senior team.

But the U.S. managed to tie the game quickly when Hayley Scamurra took a pass from Kelly Pannek and squeezed a backhand through the equipment of Skodova. 

The Americans re-took the lead just 45 seconds into the middle period on a clever play by Lacey Eden behind the Czechia goal. She quickly stripped Natalie Mlynkova of the puck and moved out front, wrapping it in before Skodova could react. Czechia had two power plays after that but couldn’t muster much firepower, and midway through the U.S. doubled its lead thanks to a bit of puck luck by the side of the Czechia goal. The puck bounced in the air and Janecke batted it in before Skodova could glove it. 

The Czechs kept fighting, and had another power play, but they couldn’t test Frankel to any great extent. Any hopes for a comeback were dealt a serious blow early in the third. The Czechs had a glorious sequence of chances but couldn't score, and the Americans came down the other way and did. Carpenter's shot from the high slot was redirected by Hilary Knight at 1:22, making it a 5-2 game.

The Czech power play was given yet another chance to get the team back in the game, but instead it got further out of hand. Katerina Mrazova bobbled a pass in her end and Abby Roque stole it. She went in alone and beat Skodova for the short-handed marker.

Soon after, Pannek took a five-minute major and game misconduct, giving the Czechs a two-skater advantage for 1:35, but with all that extra PP time they couldn't get that third goal. More U.S. penalties followed, but the PK was letter perfect in keeping it a 6-2 game.

NOTES: Other Easter wins for the Americans include a 4-1 win over Canada in the gold-medal game on April 12, 2009, and a 4-0 win over Finland on April 8, 2007…Alena Mills sat the game out with a suspension, so in her place defender Aneta Tejralova wore the “C”. It was the first time since 2017 that someone other than Mills wore the hallowed letter. "It was a surprise for me, but I'm so happy for this honour. So proud," she said.