Canada, Sweden seek gold
by Erin Brown|15 JAN 2023
Canada and Sweden will face off for gold at 20:00.
photo: Andrea Cardin / IIHF
Sweden will have a rare opportunity to not just win gold, but do so on home ice.

If the North American dominance in women’s hockey world is to fall, however, Sweden will have to topple defending-champion gold medalist Canada to do it.

The teams meet at 20:00 (14:00 ET).

A Swedish victory would be nothing short of monumental. Canada leads the all-time series 10-0 at the IIHF U18 Women's World Championship and have outscored the Swedes, 56-10. Sweden has never beaten Canada at the Olympics or Women’s World Championship, either.

The Swedes last appeared in the gold-medal game in 2018, when they fell 9–3 to the United States to earn silver.

Canada, meanwhile, has appeared in all but one gold-medal game — 2018 — and have gone in to capture six titles.

The Swedes have an advantage: a sold-out crowd at Östersund Arena. However, it offers little guarantees. Only once has a host team captured gold at this event. The United States did so in Buffalo, New York in 2015.

Both teams are coming off intense one-goal wins in their semifinal meetings.

The Swedes held off the United States with a 2-1 win on Saturday. Mira Jungaker and Astrid Lindenberg scored second-period goals 2:32 apart. Felicia Frank made 37 saves — 12 in the third period alone — to deny the Americans a 15th straight trip to the gold-medal game.

The Canadians, meanwhile, needed overtime to defeat the Finns, 3-2. Canada trailed 2-1 in the third, but Alex Law scored with 7:22 left in regulation to force overtime. The Canadian penalty kill went 3-for-3 in the final minutes of the third and early in overtime before Law delivered the game-winner 7:32 into sudden death.

When these teams met in the preliminary round, Canada escaped with a 4-2 win in a match that featured a combined 40 penalty minutes, 10 of which were for illegal hits or roughing.

Penalties plagued the Swedes early in the tournament. With most players skating in the SDHL — which permits body checking — there was an adjustment to be made at the international level where the tactic is not permitted.

In the medal round against Slovakia and the United States, they cleaned up their play. Only three of Sweden’s nine infractions have been for an illegal hit or roughing.

Canada’s Caitlin Kraemer leads her team in scoring with seven points, second-most in the tournament behind Slovakia’s Nela Lopusanova’s 12. Kraemer’s six goals also rank second to Lopusanova’s nine. Alex Law is second on Canada with six points, despite having only played three games due to a one-game suspension in round-robin play.

Sweden’s Hilda Svensson is tied for fourth in scoring with six points (four goals, two assists). Mira Jungaker leads all defenders with five points (three goals, two assists).

In net, fans will find an even matchup.

Hannah Clark has shouldered the workload for Canada, appearing in three of her team’s four games. She has a .939 save percentage and a 1.60 goals-against average in just over 187 minutes of playing time. At the opposite end, Frank is expected to start. She has a .938 goals-against average and 1.50 save percentage through 239 minutes.

The game will be broadcast nationwide in Sweden on SVT, while TSN and RDS will provide coverage in Canada. The contest can also be seen on NHL Network in the United States and on Discovery in Finland.