Canada’s women’s hockey team didn’t play its best game in its Four Nations Cup opener, but it was enough to beat Finland 3-1.
Rebecca Johnston, Natalie Spooner and Vicki Bendus scored for Canada, which is playing this tournament without star forward Hayley Wickenheiser and five other veterans. Canada scored two goals in 1:34 in the first period and wound up outshooting Finland 39-23.
“We were a little soft,” said forward Meghan Agosta-Marciano, who assisted on Spooner’s goal. “We need to be able to chip the puck a little more, come out of the zone together and come with speed, and that’s something that we kind of lacked a bit tonight. That’s not the best hockey that we’re going to be playing this tournament.”
Coach Dan Church praised his team’s adjustments in the third period but said the consistency needs to be better.
“Finland’s a tough team to play against because they clog the neutral zone and they’re very good at their neutral-zone forecheck,” he said. “We didn’t make an adjustment in the second period, but I thought the third period we did a good job.”
Finland’s only goal came in the third period, when Tea Villilä scored on the fifth of six power plays to make it 3-1. Canada took seven minor penalties but Johnston’s goal, from Haley Irwin and Brianne Jenner, came on the power play.
Goaltender Charline Labonté stopped 22 of the 23 shots she faced.
“Charline had a solid game in net for us, turned aside a bunch of shots and was consistent back there,” Church said.
In addition to Wickenheiser, Canada is without experienced forwards Caroline Ouellette and Marie-Philip Poulin and defencemen Meaghan Mikkelson, Lauriane Rougeau and Laura Fortino, who are getting a rest. Church wants to win the Four Nations Cup, but this tournament is also about evaluating players for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“It’s a prestigious tournament, and it’s an important step on the road to Sochi. But there are things that we need to do to build our team,” he said. “We brought 21 players here that are going to play all four games, and that’ll be an important process for us selecting our team down the road, leaving some players behind in Calgary.”
Those in Lake Placid, N.Y., have their sights on winning now and worrying about Sochi later.
“When I think Canada I think winning every single opportunity we have in any game or any tournament,” Agosta-Marciano said. “It’s great tournament to kind of see where everybody’s at, and at the end of the day we want to come out of this on top.”
Canada’s next game is Wednesday night against the United States, which it has already defeated twice recently. This is a renewal of that rivalry, even with some of Canada’s best players not participating.
“I think it’ll be good to see some of our younger players, having some of our more experienced veterans at home in Calgary, it’s an opportunity for them to step up,” Church said.
01:49 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Tuominen, slashing
06:03 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Karvinen, roughing
06:03 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Lacquette, roughing
11:10 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Nieminen, tripping
12:52 – 🇨🇦 PP GOAL – Johnston (Irwin, Jenner)
14:26 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Spooner (Agosta, Ward)
17:36 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Bram, interference
18:27 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Karvinen, roughing
30:32 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Johnston, hooking
35:17 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Laaksonen, holding
37:13 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Apps, slashing
44:54 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Bendus (Lacquette, Apps)
49:16 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Spooner, body checking
52:29 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Irwin, high sticking
53:43 – 🇫🇮 PP GOAL – Villilä (Tikkinen, Räty)
54:13 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Ward, holding
W: 🇨🇦 Labonté (22-23)
L: 🇫🇮 Räty (36-39)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇨🇦 20+7+12 = 39
🇫🇮 4+8+11 = 23
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Charline Labonté, Geneviève Lacasse, Shannon Szabados. Defence: Courtney Birchard, Tessa Bonhomme, Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyne Larocque, Catherine Ward (A), Tara Watchorn. Forwards: Meghan Agosta, Gillian Apps, Vicki Bendus, Bailey Bram, Mélodie Daoust, Jayna Hefford (C), Haley Irwin (A), Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, Jenelle Kohanchuk, Natalie Spooner, Jennifer Wakefield.
🇫🇮 Goaltenders: Meeri Räisänen, Noora Räty, Eveliina Suonpää. Defence: Jenni Hiirikoski (C), Mira Jalosuo, Anna Kilponen, Emma Laaksonen (A), Rosa Lindstedt, Isa Rahunen, Saija Tarkki (A), Tea Villilä. Forwards: Venla Hovi, Michelle Karvinen, Riikka Nieminen, Tanja Niskanen, Emma Nuutinen, Karolina Rantamäki, Saila Saari, Vilma Tanskanen, Susanna Tapani, Nina Tikkinen, Minnamari Tuominen, Linda Välimäki.
|🇨🇦 CANADA (C)||vs.||FINLAND 🇫🇮|
(since 12 Oct 2013)
|Last Title||09 Nov 2011|
(+ 1 tie)
|First IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. FIN)
🇨🇦 CAN 6-5 FIN 🇫🇮 – 24 Mar 1990 – WWC – Ottawa 🇨🇦
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. FIN)
🇨🇦 CAN 8-0 FIN 🇫🇮 – 05 Apr 2013 – WWC – Ottawa 🇨🇦
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 6-3 USA 🇺🇸 – 17 Oct 2013 – EX – Boisbriand 🇨🇦
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 4-2 USA 🇺🇸 – 06 Nov 2013 – FNC – Lake Placid 🇺🇸