Canada sets shorthanded record in win
by Lucas Aykroyd|07 JAN 2024
Canada's Caitlin Kraemer (left) raises her arms after notching the first of Canada's three shorthanded goals in an 8-1 win over Czechia at the U18 Women's Worlds in Zug, Switzerland.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Andrea Cardin
On Sunday, Canada set a new record with three shorthanded goals in an 8-1 rout of Czechia at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship.

Abby Stonehouse scored two shorties and Caitlin Kraemer had the other one in Canada's second straight win. The previous single-game record was two shorthanded goals, shared by four teams (Sweden and U.S. in 2009, Germany in 2010, and Finland in 2011).

"I just always play my game and work on what I do best to get out of the defensive zone," said Stonehouse. "Then once that's done, I try and go on offence."

Stonehouse chipped in three assists for a five-point night, and Kraemer added a second goal to surpass Marie-Philip Poulin as Canada's all-time leading U18 Women's Worlds goal-scorer (14).

Captain Emma Venusio hailed Kraemer: "She's a great leader, a great player, one of my really good friends. She deserves everything that she's gotten."

Morgan Jackson also scored twice and Venusio added a single, while Claire Murdoch had three assists. The Canadians outshot the Czechs 41-24.

Aneta Paroubkova, a 15-year-old HC Pribram forward, replied for Czechia.

"They were really physical, as we expected," said Tereza Plosova. "But I think we didn't have luck today. We had a lot of pucks near the goal line and we didn't score. So I think that was the problem."

Canada is aiming to win three straight championships for the second time in its U18 Women’s Worlds history (2012-14). Only the U.S. has ever captured four straight titles (2015-18).

In net, Rhyah Stewart was named Canada's best player in her tournament debut. Playing against boys for the Cape Breton West Islanders in the Nova Scotia U18 Major League, she owns a 2.69 GAA and 91.4 save percentage in 13 games this season. At the other end, Sara Valerie Sevcikova, a 2022 champion with HC Pribram, also got her first start.

"She made phenomenal saves," Stonehouse said of Stewart. "She kept us in the game. Without her, I think it would be a different score."

The Canadian battle undefeated Finland on Tuesday for first place in Group A. Canadian coach Tara Watchorn said: "They're a good team, no doubt. They're well-coached, structured, and physical. They're going to give us a good game, and we're excited to keep taking a step forward."

Eight players recorded multi-point games when Canada opened with an 11-0 win over Germany. But Czechia represented a somewhat stiffer test.

Coach Dusan Andrasovsky’s team was hoping for better things after falling 3-2 to Finland as Emma Ekoluoma potted a hat trick. Czechia has only medaled twice in tournament history, winning bronze in 2008 and 2014.

Of allowing three shorthanded goals, Andrasovsky said: "It's a different style of PK they play. We didn't react well to that situation. We missed a lot of pucks and made individual mistakes. But for experience, it was great to play this game, and our team will be stronger for it."

The Czechs came out skating with determination and generated some opportunities around Stewart’s net. The champs slowed their own momentum by having to kill off the game’s first five penalties.

"Discipline is key for sure," Watchorn said. "There's two sides to it. I'm proud of the fact that we didn't let that get in our way. Mentally, the girls really kept an even keel throughout the game. We got on the penalty kill and went to work. But still, we're open-minded and curious about how we can be better? How can we eliminate those stick penalties?"

After the Czechs narrowly failed to break through on a 5-on-3 that lasted 42 seconds, Kraemer gave Canada the lead at 12:21 after coming out of the box to make it 5-on-4. She capitalized in a 1-on-1 situation with a nice toe drag shot.

Shots were just 9-8 Canada in the opening stanza.

Stewart made a fantastic save on Tereza Gildainova on the doorstep early in the second period. At 1:43, Stonehouse, dogged on the puck, barged past Czech defenders and banged in her own rebound for a 2-0 lead shorthanded.

Stonehouse, who plays for the OHWL's Waterloo Ravens, teamed up with Claire Murdoch on a beautiful 2-on-1 break to set the shorthanded record at 8:20.

For a special-teams change of pace, Venusio made it 4-0 on the power play with a long wrister at 16:15. 

Paroubkova finally gave Czech fans a reason to cheer when she broke Stewart's shutout bid 1:23 later. Yet with 32 seconds left in the frame, Jackson backhanded home a loose puck from the slot to restore Canada's four-goal edge.

Jackson made it 6-1 at 7:40 of the third period, zapping the puck past Sevcikova's blocker. Kraemer tallied again on the power play three minutes later. Video review confirmed the final Canadian goal by Alexander at 15:55.

Canada has never lost to the Czechs in seven U18 Women’s Worlds meetings, boasting a 58-5 goal difference. The last game in 2018 was the closest, as Canada prevailed 3-1 in the quarter-final on Willow Slobodzian’s second-period power play goal.
Czechia vs Canada - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship