Nurse the overtime hero for Canada
by Liz Montroy|13 APR 2023
Canada's Sarah Nurse scored in overtime against Sweden to send Canada to the semi-finals
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin

Sweden took Canada to overtime in the quarter-finals of the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship, playing a tenacious 60 minutes of regular time and scoring in the final seconds to tie the game. Canada would end up with the win however, with Sarah Nurse scoring in extra time.

"We talked before that we everything to win in this game and had nothing to lose," said Sweden's Mira Jungaker. "We were playing Canada with a full arena, so we just wanted to go out and play our best hockey. It was close but not enough."

Sweden’s Josefin Bouveng had the first scoring opportunity of the game, receiving a long pass up ice on Canada’s blue line for a near breakaway, but Canada went on to outscore Sweden 14-5 in the first period and take a 1-0 lead. The first goal of the game belonged to Blayre Turnbull, who used a nifty forehand to backhand move to score five hole on Swedish goaltender Emma Soderberg.

Jocelyne Larocque nearly increased Canada’s lead before the intermission, jumping up into the play with defence partner Renata Fast. Fast passed the puck into the crease for Larocque, who was stymied by Soderberg.

Canada and Sweden traded goals in the second period, starting with the Canadians. Sarah Nurse took a tripping penalty, but Sweden’s power play was short-lived, with a penalty called on Hanna Olsson 15 seconds in. Nearly two minutes of four-on-four play ensued, most of which was in Sweden’s end. Nurse went to work as soon as she was out of the box, battling for the puck on the boards and firing it past Soderberg for the 2-0 lead.

"Nurse just continues to show that she's one of the best players in the world," said Canada's Erin Ambrose. "Her release is something that kind of catches you off guard because of how it comes off her stick, but it’s one of the quickest there is. She continues to take her game to another level and today was just showing that and proving that."

Then it was Sweden’s turn to score on the power play, with Lina Ljungblom collecting her seventh of the tournament as Sofie Lundin screened Emerance Maschmeyer. This marked the first time since 2004 that Sweden has scored on Canada at a Women’s World Championship.

"Of course it’s like a dream to score on Canada and I think we got some energy from that. It was a team effort today," said Ljungblom. "I think we’re really good, I just don’t think people know that. But today I think many people can see that we are good and we play as a team and we block shots for each other and we fight for each other."

The second period saw Canada once against keep Sweden at only five shots while increasing their own shots on Soderberg by 18—many of which would likely have gone in were it not for an excellent performance from Soderberg.

"I found a nice flow in the game. I had a lot of shots, which helped get me comfortable," said Soderberg. "I felt confident in our team in the third. We had already put up a good fight for two periods. We knew they wouldn’t be happy, but we just needed one shot. We put up a good fight against them before but that was also a long time ago. But I knew I had to be ready. Their passing is dangerous. They’re sneaking up on the back door a lot trying to get the puck through, so I have to keep turning my head to see where the players are coming."

Canada controlled most of the third period, but Sweden’s choice to pull Soderberg for a sixth attacker in the final minute led to something never before seen at Women’s Worlds—overtime between Canada and Sweden. While the Canadians almost sealed the deal with an empty net goal, their shot just missed the net. It was then Hilda Svensson’s time to shine. The young Swedish sensation silenced the crowd in the CAA Centre by scoring to tie the game with just 9.2 seconds left on the clock. This was the first time in Women's Worlds history that a team other than the United States has taken Canada to overtime.

"We get so much confidence from this and I think that we know we are a good team, but now we can look back on the game and see that we’re so close to beating the best team in the world," said Ljungblom. "If we just do the work out there, then we can be a top team in the world."

Soderberg continued to make save after save in overtime (she ended the game with 51 saves on 54 shots), stunning the crowd and the Canadians. Nurse would end up the hero however, scoring her second of the game to give Canada the 3-2 victory.

"I think it just shows where the game's at in the world right now. You have teams that continue to push, to chase us and the US down, and that’s something we take a lot of pride in," said Ambrose. "You look at what Sweden did today, they played fantastic, Soderberg was unbelievable. Any game we go into we know we're going to get everybody's best, so I think that that's something we’re always reminded of and something that we have to keep in mind when we do come into the semi-finals, whoever we do play."