The United States women’s Olympic team started their quest to avenge their 2010 Gold Medal defeat in quick fashion, scoring early and often to beat Finland in the opening game of the women’s tournament, retaining the International Hockey Lineal Championship in the process.
All the Americans needed were 53 seconds to set the tone of the game, after Hilary Knight converted a Finnish turnover into a breakaway, rifling a shot past Noora Räty to put the U.S. on top 1-0. The Americans, who were out to avenge an upset loss from Finland at the 2013 Four Nations Cup in November, kept the offense relentless in the first, outshooting the Naisleijonat 15-3.
The second period was more of the same story, as goals from Kelli Stack and a power play tally from Alex Carpenter put the Americans in the driver’s seat, up 3-0 after forty minutes and outshooting Finland 33-7. While Finland was able to convert on a power play of its own, with a Susanna Tapani marker during a Brianna Decker penalty, it was too little too late, as they failed to garner any further offense, and the game ended 3-1, a much closer score than the shot tally or on-ice offensive output indicated.
With the win, the Americans retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship in their opening Olympic defence. The U.S. won their 27th IHLC from Canada in a 5-1 win at the first of four pre-Olympic exhibition games in Calgary on December 12, and swept the series in the following four games in Grand Forks, Saint Paul and Toronto. This was the first Olympics where the U.S. were incoming IHLC champions since the 2002 Salt Lake Games. The U.S. next faces Switzerland in Group A play with the IHLC on the line.
00:53 – GOAL – Knight
01:22 – PEN – Lindstedt, hooking
13:04 – PEN – Tikkinen, interference
27:42 – GOAL – Stack (Knight, Bozek)
29:02 – PEN – Kilponen, holding
34:32 – PEN – Hovi, holding
35:59 – PP GOAL – Carpenter (Schleper)
36:26 – PEN – Knight, hooking
54:57 – PEN – Decker, hooking
55:52 – PP GOAL – Tapani (Karvinen)
W: Vetter (14-15)
L: Räty (40-43)
SHOTS ON GOAL
15+18+10 = 43
3+4+8 = 15
Goaltenders: Molly Schaus, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Kacey Bellamy, Megan Bozek, Gigi Marvin, Michelle Picard, Josephine Pucci, Anne Schleper, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Alexandra Carpenter, Julie Chu, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Lyndsey Fry, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux, Kelli Stack.
Goaltenders: Meeri Räisänen, Noora Räty. Defence: Jenni Hiirikoski (C), Mira Jalosuo, Anna Kilponen, Rosa Lindstedt, Saija Tarkki (A), Emma Terho (A). Forwards: Venla Hovi, Michelle Karvinen, Riikka Nieminen, Emma Nuutinen, Anniina Rajahuhta, Karoliina Rantamäki, Vilma Tanskanen, Susanna Tapani, Nina Tikkinen, Minnamari Tuominen, Tea Välilä, Linda Välimäki.