Canada thrashes Finns for bronze
by Lucas Aykroyd|14 JAN 2024
Canada's Chloe Primerano (#8) made history with three points in an 8-1 victory over Finland in the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship bronze medal game.
Tournament scoring leader Chloe Primerano set records with two goals and an assist as Canada beat Finland 8-1 for the bronze medal at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship.

With 16 points (8+8=16), Primerano established a new single-tournament points record by a defender. In addition, the 17-year-old prodigy surpassed the U.S.'s Kendall Coyne Schofield (15 points in 2009) and Canada's Jessica Campbell (15 points, 2010) for the second-highest total in U18 Women's Worlds history. The U.S.'s Amanda Kessel (19 points, 2009) is tops all-time.

"I think all of her teammates, staff and people involved in this program can say we're not surprised," said Canadian coach Tara Watchorn. "Chloe is such a hard worker. This was her coming-out stage and she did really well. But I think the coolest part is just the teammate she was all the way through the tournament. She was such a pleasure to work with."

On Sunday, Caitlin Kraemer and Abby Stonehouse also stepped up with two goals apiece. The only previous Canadian bronze medal was in 2018.

"It says a lot about our team that we stuck together and pulled through," said Stonehouse, who finished with 11 points. "We ended on a high note, which we've been talking about."

The Canadians outshot Finland 52-12, and the result was never in doubt. The Finns simply ran out of gas in their first WW18 bronze medal game ever against Canada. The Finns have won bronze thrice (2011, 2019, 2022), with no other medals.

"We tried our best, and it just wasn't enough today," said Finnish captain Tuuli Tallinen.

For the second straight year, Kraemer had 10 goals, one shy of U.S. forward Haley Skarupa's single-tournament record (11, 2012). Kraemer, Stonehouse's teammate with the Waterloo-Kitchener Rangers, also nailed down the Canadian U18 Women's Worlds career goals record (20) over two tournaments. She ranks two goals behind all-time leader Coyne Schofield, who took three tournaments (2008-10) to rack up 22 goals.

"She's a really special player," Watchorn said of Kraemer. "She was a great leader for us this time around, and it was fun to watch her play and elevate the people next to her."

Mackenzie Alexander had a goal and an assist, and Maxine Cimoroni also scored for Canada.

Finnish scoring leader Emma Ekoluoma replied with her eighth goal of the tournament. Kuisma summed up the 17-year-old Karpat Oulu sniper's future: "Pretty shiny! She's a huge player and a huge person off the ice. She keeps both feet on the ground."

Watchorn had to get her players refocused after a heartbreaking, unprecedented 4-2 semi-final loss to the Czechs. That ended Canada's reign as two-time defending champions.

"I think it taught us a lot, just to not take any game for granted," Primerano said. "You have to come out flying every game. Every team is good in this tournament. Next year, we've got to come out and work as hard as we can and try to not let what happened this year happen again."

Rhyah Stewart appeared in net for Canada as number one goalie Hannah Clark was sidelined due to a semi-final injury. Finland's Kerttu Kuja-Halkola got her sixth start.

Canada hammered Finland 10-0 in the preliminary round, and this affair wasn't much different.

Alexander opened the scoring at 4:54. She got the puck from Primerano with speed in the neutral zone, cut into the high slot, and whipped a shot past Kuja-Halkola’s blocker.

Primerano’s assist lifted her past Brigette Lacquette (2+11=13, 2010) for the points record for defenders.

Kraemer hailed Primerano: "That's pretty special to come out as a first-year and have that type of impact. It'll be exciting to see what she does for the rest of her career, because she has a lot of promise, and she's also a great teammate."

Canada controlled the game early on with strong puck movement, keeping Finland bottled up in its own zone. Stonehouse doubled Canada’s lead at 12:19, firing a bad-angle shot that went in off defender Nelly Andersson’s stick.

Seconds after Canada’s first power play expired, Stonehouse jumped on a loose puck and beat Kuja-Halkola over the glove to make it 3-0 at 18:22. First-period shots favoured Canada 21-4.

Just 1:45 into the second period, Kraemer went to the net and tipped in a nice feed from Alexander. A lucky bounce made it 5-0, with Jessica MacKinnon's shot bouncing in off Cimonori's skate. 

Kraemer, unguarded in front of the Finnish net, scored on the power play at 11:17 to make it 6-0, courtesy of a nice Stryker Zablocki pass from below the goal line.

Ten seconds after a potential Jessica Pellerin goal was nullified for a kicking motion, an unfortunate incident saw Finland's Emmi Loponen stretchered off after a run-in with Pieckenhagen along the side boards. The Canadian received a boarding minor on the play.

Primerano got Canada's seventh goal shorthanded on the rush with a laser at 18:15.

In the third period, Primerano deked her way to the net for an 8-0 lead at 10:56. Ekoluoma was mobbed by her teammates after ending Stewart's shutout bid at 11:44. It was a little bit of consolation.

The Finns have had a tough bronze-medal game draw two years in a row. In 2023, they lost 5-0 to the U.S. in Ostersund, Sweden.

"Obviously it feels like it's unfair," Kuisma said. "But what can you do? You have to win the right games."

Finland has only beaten Canada once at the U18 Women’s Worlds. Goalie Emilia Kyrkko starred with 40 saves in a 2-0 win to open the 2022 tournament in Madison, Wisconsin.
Canada vs Finland - BMG - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship