Similar to last year’s preliminary finale between Team USA and Finland, the Naisleijonat put a scare into one of the two superpowers of women’s hockey.
But unlike last year’s upset over Team USA, Canada managed to squeak past Finland, helmed by a brilliant in-net performance by Meeri Räisänen, to advance to the Four Nations Cup Gold Medal Game and retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Despite outshooting the Finns in the first two periods by a margin of 34-9, it was a lone power play goal on a tic-tac-toe passing play from Jennifer Wakefield that was able to solve Räisänen, giving Canada a slim 1-0 lead heading into the third period. Finland, although low on shots, were able to play a tight, disciplined game, only taking two penalties through forty minutes, keeping a clean sheet through the second period.
Canada was able to add a second tally from captain Haley Irwin early in the third, wiring a Laura Fortino feed past Räisänen for the 2-0 advantage. But just over six minutes later, capitalizing on Irwin in the penalty box, Finnish veteran Riikka Nieminen needed just 22 seconds into the power play to cut the deficit to 2-1. But Canada maintained its own discipline in the last ten minutes, avoiding any penalties and keeping Finland off the power play, and with 48 seconds remaining, potted an empty net insurance goal from Rebecca Johnston to hold on for the 3-1 victory.
With the victory, Canada, in their 30th reign as International Hockey Lineal Champions, retains the IHLC they captured from Team USA at the Sochi Olympics, and defended against both Sweden and the United States at the Four Nations Cup. Canada, who improves to 25-0 against Finland at the Four Nations Cup, wins their first IHLC battle against the Naisleijonat since last year’s Cup, retaining in a 6-3 win to capture the Gold Medal. Canada now advances to their 19th consecutive Gold Medal Game at the Four Nations Cup, taking on their American counterparts for the 17th time to unify Gold and the IHLC.
03:01 – PEN – ViIlilä, hooking
14:34 – PEN – Tapani, body checking
15:42 – PP GOAL – Wakefield (Watchorn, Jenner)
23:55 – PEN – Krzyzaniak, holding
41:18 – PEN – Nieminen, hooking
43:53 – GOAL – Irwin (Fortino, Turnbull)
46:12 – PEN – Johnston, tripping
46:23 – PEN – Hiirikoski, boarding
50:14 – PEN – Irwin, tripping
50:36 – PP GOAL – Nieminen (Lindstedt, Tulus)
59:12 – EN GOAL – Johnston (Ambrose)
W: Maschmeyer (11-12)
L: Räisänen (46-48)
SHOTS ON GOAL
18+16+15 = 49
7+2+3 = 12
Goaltenders: Geneviève Lacasse, Emerance Maschmeyer. Defence: Erin Ambrose, Courtney Birchard, Laura Fortino, Halli Krzyzaniak, Jocelyne Larocque, Tara Watchorn. Forwards: Bailey Bram, Jessica Campbell, Emily Clark, Haley Irwin (C), Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston (A), Jenelle Kohanchuk, Jillian Saulnier, Natalie Spooner (A), Kelly Terry, Blayre Turnbull, Jennifer Wakefield.
Goaltenders: Meeri Räisänen, Eveliina Suonpää. Defence: Jenni Hiirikoski, Mira Jalosuo, Anna Kilponen, Rosa Lindstedt, Minnamari Tuominen, Ella Viitasuo, Tea ViIlilä. Forwards: Jennica Haikarainen, Sari Kärnä, Michelle Karvinen (C), Riikka Nieminen (A), Emma Nuutinen, Suvi Ollikainen, Karoliina Rantamäki, Saila Saari, Jenna Suokko, Vilma Tanskanen, Susanna Tapani (A), Noora Tulus, Saana Valkama.