U.S. overpowers Finns, 8-1
by Risto Pakarinen|09 JAN 2023
USA’s Cassie Hall #22 (not shown) scores a third-period goal against Finland's Kerttu Kuja-Halkola #31 while Maggie Scannell #24 battles with Aino Krook #2.
photo: Andrea Cardin / IIHF

There were glimpses of hope for the Finns, but in the end, not enough. Team USA scored eight times and after their strong start, the win was never in doubt. 

Margaret Scannell scored a hat-trick, and Joy Dunne picked up three points. Neea Pelkonen scored the lone Finnish goal. 

"We had great team energy and we're all so excited to be out thewre togerther," said Scannell. "The key in the tourenament is to have a strong group. You just have to go into each game as a new game, and come together as a team."

United States vs Finland - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship
USA FIN 09 JAN 2023

The Finns had had less than 24 hours to get over their 8-0 loss to Canada before taking on an opponent that’s traditionally not been much less intimidating. The Americans beat the hosts, Sweden, in their first game and a win in the game against Finland was going to get them well prepared for their showdown against Canada. 

Team USA was determined to take control of the game from the get-go, and not give the Finns anything to build their game on. That worked.  Finland had trouble getting out of their zone and before the first period was halfway through, the Finns had iced the puck four times – and fished it out of their net once. 

The Americans won a faceoff in the Finnish zone and Finley McCarthy drove hard to the net. The puck hit a Finnish skate and bounced right onto Margaret Scannell’s stick, and she had an easy job to beat Suvi Saarinen up high. 

As the period progressed, Finland got into the game, and managed to create a couple of chances. However, the US extended their lead at 14:13 after two beautiful backhanders. First, team captain Joy Dunne sent a hard backhand pass across the ice right to the tape of Samantha Taber who split the Finnish defence and fired a backhander topshelf. 

Team USA outshot Finland 15-0 in the first period. 

Finland came back revitalized and cut the Americans’ into half when Neea Pelkonen deflected Pauliina Salonen’s pass and beat Layla Hemp. 

"It  certainly gave a boost on the bench," Pelkonen said. 

Just 69 seconds later, the Americans made it a two-goal game again Scannell got her second of the night with a snipe from the slot, through Saarinen’s five-hole. Scannell finished her hat-trick 37 seconds later with a wrister that beat Saarinen high on the glove side. 

Halfway through the period, Scannell picked up her fourth point of the game, an assist to the 5-1 goal which Dunne willed in from the doorstep for her first goal wearing the Team USA jersey. 

USA got into some penalty trouble late in the second period, and Finland had  both 5-on-4 powerplay and a two-player advantage, but Hemp stood her ground.

In the third period, the Americans took advantage of a Finnish penalty. Gabrielle Kim beat Kerttu Kuja-Halkola for the first time in the game, making it 6-1 with a wrist shot from the slot. 

Cassandra Hall scored 7-1 on powerplay with four and a alf minutes remaining. Dunne's assist was her third point of the game. Finley McCarthy sealed the score with 90 seconds remaining. Scannell collected an assist for her fouirth point. 

"Everybody's so supportive, it just feels great to be a part of it," Scannell said. 

Despite the score, Finns weren't too depressed after the game. 

"I think we played better than last night. especially 5-on-5, but we need to work on our special teams," said coach Mira Kuisma. 

"We're still confident," said goal scorer Pelkonen.

The Finns will take on Sweden on Wednesday, while Team USA will meet Canada. 

United States vs Finland - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship