The Canadian women’s hockey team closed the 12 Nations tournament with a 6-4 loss to Sweden on Wednesday.
It’s just the second time the Swedish women have ever beaten Canada in international hockey. The last time was at the 2008 4 Nations Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., where the Swedes edged Canada 2-1 in overtime.
“From a player’s perspective we’re extremely disappointed,” said veteran forward Jayna Hefford. “We don’t feel like maybe we performed at the level we need to.
“We’ve played seven games in eight nights and we don’t want to use that as an excuse. I think today we ran out of gas a little bit. We pressed as hard as we could at the end to get a few opportunities, but they played well today.”
Playing their fifth game in as many days, Canada trailed the Swedes 4-1 early in the second period.
The Canadians pelted goaltender Kim Martin with 53 shots, but Sweden’s heroine in a silver-medal effort at the 2006 Olympics was up to the task.
Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., scored twice before the end of the second period to pull Canada within one goal. Sweden’s Gizela Blom scored at 4:07 of the third, Agosta completed the hat trick at 5:15 before Pernilla Winberg sealed sealed the win for the Swedes at 17:23.
Mallory Deuce of London, Ont., scored for Canada 11 seconds into the game but Michelle Loewenhielm tied it at 2:30.
Sweden’s Frida Nevalainen, Elin Holmlöv and Anna Borgqvist scored in a span of eight minutes 18 seconds to start the second period. Winberg also had three assists for the Swedes.
Canada split goaltending duties between starter Geneviève Lacasse of Kingston, Ont., and reliever Christina Kessler of Mississauga, Ont. Lacasse gave up four goals and Kessler two.
The Swedes finished with a 5-1 record followed by Canada at 4-2. The U.S. (5-0) was to meet Finland (4-1) in a later game. Canada edged Finland 3-2 on Monday.
The 12 Nations is a new women’s tournament sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation. The IIHF wants to close the large gaps between countries in the sport by providing more competition. The goal is to encourage federations to put resources into women’s hockey while also motivating individual players to improve their fitness and skills.
Canada didn’t bring its entire roster from this year’s world championship. Instead, head female scout Melody Davidson introduced a few younger players to Canada’s roster, including three goaltenders who hadn’t played at the world’s top level before: Lacasse, Kessler and Liz Knox.
Hockey Canada also didn’t want to pull players out of school for both the tournament and a national team camp at the end of September. As a result, forwards Rebecca Johnston and Marie-Philip Poulin, who helped Canada win gold in the 2010 Olympics, were not in the lineup.
Captain Hayley Wickenheiser declined an invitation to play in the tournament because of family commitments, including her son starting school. Forward Cherie Piper had a teaching internship and Sarah Vaillancourt is dealing with a hip injury. Canada’s 12 Nations roster included just 10 forwards.
“It definitely had an impact on our performance in the last couple of games in particular,” Canadian head coach Dan Church said. “That depth is such an advantage for us and when we only send 10 (forwards) and you take some of those players who have been on the team out of that lineup, it definitely hurts us.
“We probably could have buried a couple of chances we had today, had we had fresh legs, but I think overall it was a good experience for us to play with some adversity.”
The 12 Nations tournament included the U.S., Canada, Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, Russia, Switzerland and Japan playing in Vierumaki, while France, Norway, Germany and the Czech Republic played a mini-tournament at the same time in Courcheval, France.
“We’d like to see Switzerland and Russia push more because we know they have strong federations behind them,” Hefford said. “But Sweden and Finland are definitely coming on.
“From a development point of view, I was really impressed by Finland and Sweden this week. They didn’t sit back and trap like sometimes they’ve done in the past.”
IHLC: With the win, Sweden captures the International Hockey Lineal Championship from the winningest IHLC champions in women’s hockey, Team Canada, winning the title for the fifth time, the first coming at the 2006 Turin Olympics. Sweden and Canada last met over the IHLC at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where Canada thumped Sweden 13-1 in group play. Sweden becomes the third team to hold the IHLC at the Twelve Nations Tournament, with the U.S. entering Vierumäki with the title, winning four before losing to Canada, who defeated Finland before dropping the title. Sweden now faces the hosts Finland next in a very unexpected IHLC title showdown.
00:11 – GOAL – Deluce
02:30 – GOAL – Löwenhielm (Stenberg)
08:55 – PEN – Borgqvist, interference
17:29 – PEN – Ouellette, body checking
20:51 – PEN – Mikkelson, hooking
21:39 – PEN – Larocque, tripping
21:59 – PP2 GOAL – Nevalainen (Winberg)
23:03 – PP GOAL – Holmlöv (Winberg)
23:44 – PEN – Hedin, cross checking
28:18 – GOAL – Borgqvist
28:48 – GOAL – Agosta (Bonhomme, Ouellette)
29:40 – PEN – Wakefield, tripping
34:47 – PEN – Wakefield, tripping
38:31 – GOAL – Agosta (Irwin, Ward)
44:07 – GOAL – Blom (Winberg)
45:15 – GOAL – Agosta (Hefford, Birchard)
49:05 – PEN – Nevalainen, hooking
51:49 – PEN – Irwin, hooking
57:23 – GOAL – Winberg (Holmlöv)
W: Martin (49-53)
L: Lacasse (5-9), Kessler (16-18)
SHOTS ON GOAL
5+8+14 = 27
19+17+17 = 53
Goaltenders: Valentina Lizana, Kim Martin. Defence: Emma Agen, Emilia Andersson, Jenni Asserholt, Linnea Bäckman, Johanna Fällman, Linnea Hedin, Josefine Holmgren, Frida Nevalainen, Johanna Olofsson, Kristina Vikdahl. Forwards: Gizela Blom, Anna Borgqvist, Emma Eliasson, Elin Holmlöv, Erika Holst, Lisa Johansson, Michelle Löwenhielm, Klara Myrén, Melinda Olsson, Rebecca Stenberg, Lina Wester, Pernilla Winberg, Angelica Östlund.
Goaltenders: Christina Kessler, Liz Knox, Geneviéve Lacasse. Defence: Courtney Birchard, Tessa Bonhomme, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson, Bobbi Jo Slusar, Catherine Ward. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Gillian Apps, Vicki Bendus, Emmanuelle Blais, Mallory Deluce, Jayna Hefford, Haley Irwin, Caroline Ouellette, Jesse Scanzano, Jennifer Wakefield.
Article Credit: Hockey Canada