Ekoluoma grabs second hat-trick
by Andy Potts|07 JAN 2024
Finland's Emma Ekolouma (left) scores her team's second goal on Germany at the Women's U18 World Championship in Zug, Switzerland.
Finland’s Emma Ekoluoma kept up her impressive start to this year’s championship. The 17-year-old, who plays her club hockey for Karpat Oulu, made it two hat-tricks in two games. Not bad for a player in her first IIHF tournament.

Indeed, Ekoluoma has a chance to equal a Women’s U18 record: in 2012, the USA’s Haley Skarupa scored hat-tricks in each of her first three games. However, for the Finnish forward to match that, she would need to score three times on defending champion Canada – no easy task!

Meanwhile, team captain Tuuli Tallinen contributed three assists and earned the plaudits of Abigail Byskata - who had two goals of her own in the third period.

"She's just a leader," Byskata said of Tallinen. "She knows how to get the team going and she's a great player. She's a good example for us.

"[She and Ekoluoma] trust each other. They play for the team, and they keep finding those passes."

Despite another heavy loss, the Germans showed character after a painful 0-11 loss to Canada last night. Less than 24 hours later they were back on the ice and defended hard to keep the scoreline respectable for long spells. Starting goalie Hannah Loist was busy again, but produced some big saves to prevent Finland from running away with this game until the closing minutes.

"I think as a team we worked pretty well together," the goalie said after making 40 saves in the game. "We just took a bit too many penalties and that made it a little bit hard."

That was especially important after the Finns grabbed an early lead. With four minutes played, Erika Kannkkunen set up Senja Siivonen for a one-timer that gave Loist no chance. Finland continued to dominate, but this time the German defence was ready to compete. Loist made a particularly eye-catching stick save to deny Eerika Siekkinen, poking the puck away as the Finnish forward went clean through on the German net.

Late in the opening session, Ekuluoma underlined her scoring power when she sent a Nelly Anderson pass to the top shelf and doubled her country’s lead. The intermission saw Finland up 15-3 on shots, and that kind of pressure continued in the second period.

However, while last night’s game saw Canada pile on the goals in the middle frame, today was a different story. Germany could not completely halt Finland’s onslaught, but was able to keep the puck out of the net. Loist made 13 saves, frustrating the Finnish forwards and keeping the game.

"I think we had a good second period and we were probably happy after that, thinking 'OK, we're on the power play going into the third.'," said head coach Jeff MacLeod. "We thought we had a good opportunity here."

However, that power play did not deliver. In the third period, Finland continued to press and Germany began to tire. As the clock ran down, the goals piled up. Ekoluoma got her second in the 46th minute, converting a five-on-three power play. Then line-mate Abigail Byskata potted two more, with Ekoluoma assisting on the second. Her hat-trick goal came with four minutes left to play, another clinical snipe from the base of the right-hand circle to convert another power play and make the final score 6-0.

That meant frustration for Germany's coach. "We're a little upset that [Loist] did her thing and we didn't support her," MacLeod added. "The third period should have been better from our side, but she's playing great."

After winning the first two games, Finnish head coach Mira Kuisma admitted that it only gets harder from here with a showdown against Canada coming on Tuesday.

"Honestly, this game didn't really prepare us for Tuesday," she said. "But we know what is coming. So we're going to talk more about that tomorrow."

Germany continues against Czechia, looking for a first win in the group stage.
Finland vs Germany - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship