Canada demolishes Finns for top spot
by Lucas Aykroyd|09 JAN 2024
Canada's Chloe Primerano (#8, second from left) is mobbed by teammates after scoring her first of three goals in a 10-0 victory over Finland to top Group A at the 2024 IIHF U18 Women's Worlds.
Talk about legends in the making. Chloe Primerano and Caitlin Kraemer both dazzled with hat tricks as Canada hammered Finland 10-0 to win Tuesday's showdown for first place in Group A.

The ultra-shifty 17-year-old Primerano became the first defender ever to score a WW18 hat trick. The North Vancouver native leads the tournament with nine points (5+4=9). She was dancing all night against the Finns.

About making history with her three goals, Primerano said: "I didn't know that and it feels pretty good. But I couldn't have done it without my teammates. They set me up pretty well."

Primerano and Kraemer, whose seven goals are tops at these U18 Women's Worlds, scored seven seconds apart in the first period to tie a tournament speed record. The only other nation ever to do that is the U.S. (2010, 2011, 2022).

Kraemer currently has 17 career WW18 goals and is within sniffing distance of the all-time record. U.S. legend Kendall Coyne Schofield totalled 22 goals over three tournaments (2008-10).

Sienna D'Alessandro had a pair of goals, and Stryker Zablocki also stepped up with a goal and three assists.

Looking ahead to Thursday's quarter-finals, Zablocki said: "I think we want to keep our momentum. We've been playing great. Keep it simple and keep our habits going, and it'll definitely help us in the quarters and moving on from there."

Finnish starting goalie Kerttu Kuja-Halkola was pulled after allowing five goals on 26 shots. Canada outshot Finland 58-7 and netminder Hannah Clark got her second shutout.

"We had a game plan, but we couldn't play how we wanted to play," said Finnish coach Mira Kuisma. "Canada was really good and we just couldn't do anything."

Canada has been easily the most dangerous team at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship so far with a 29-1 goal difference. And versus Finland, Canada enjoyed a classic case of “your best players need to be your best players.”

Primerano hustled over the blue line and unleashed a wicked wrister that beat Kuja-Halkola high to the glove side at 3:12.

Off the ensuing faceoff, Kraemer, who surpassed Marie-Philip Poulin as Canada’s all-time WW18 goals leader here in Zug, muscled her way into the Finnish zone, undressed defender Heidi Holmberg, and scored low glove side at 3:19. Psychologically, it was a tough blow for Kuisma's group.

Kraemer, who plays for the OHWL’s Waterloo Ravens, had a tournament-leading 10 goals last year. The University of Minnesota-Duluth commit is on pace again to threaten retired U.S. forward Haley Skarupa’s 2012 record (11 goals).

"She's an amazing player and it's super-fun watching her out there, " Primerano said of Kraemer. "Every time, every game, she's always doing something new."

Even though the teams had two power plays apiece in the opening stanza, Canada’s territorial dominance was reflected in the 17-2 shots gap.

In the second period, it took just 45 seconds for D'Alessandro to golf in a rebound and put Canada up 3-0. D'Alessandro made waves in Canada's 11-0 opening romp over Germany with a hat trick.

At 3:49, Reese Logan barged to the net to convert Zablocki's centering pass from down low. On Canada's fifth goal, Charlotte Pieckenhagen found Primerano with a back pass from the corner, and she dangled her way to the net before sliding the disc past a prone Kuja-Halkola at 9:06

Life didn't get any easier for Finland after Lilia Huovinen took over in net. Kraemer and Claire Murdoch forced the newcomer to make a great save on a 2-on-1. Canadian captain Emma Venusio rang one off the cross bar.

At 2:01 of the third period, Zablocki made it 6-0, finishing off Morgan Jackson's feed on the rush. Kraemer added her second goal at 4:02 after Abby Stonehouse picked off a bad clearing attempt and set her up.

Finnish captain Tuuli Tallinen acknowledged the prowess of Primerano and Kraemer: "They are so fast and have really awesome talent. They're are just different from others."

Primerano deked out Huovinen neatly to complete her hat trick at 16:24. D'Alessandro scored at 17:42 and Kraemer added her third with 0:04 left to make it 10-0.

In the 2020’s, the rivalry between these two nations has intensified. The Finns defeated Canada 2-0 in their 2022 opener in Madison, Wisconsin and fell 2-1 in that year’s semi-final. In 2023 in Ostersund, Sweden, Canada needed overtime to nip Finland 3-2 in the semi-final.

However, this one was no contest.

Kuisma had a simple message for her players: "I just said that we have to forget this game. It doesn't matter what the result was, because the next game is our important game." 

Canada’s all-time U18 Women’s Worlds record against Finland improves to 13 wins and one loss. Now, the focus for both teams shifts to the quarter-finals and a chance to go for a medal.
Canada vs Finland - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship