Capitalizing on Finland’s top goaltender and goal scorer missing the game, the United States improved to 2-0 at the World Championships with a dominating 4-1 victory, retaining the International Hockey Lineal Championship in the process.
While the chance of a Finnish victory would have seemed unlikely before the game due the absence of goaltender Noora Räty from the tournament, sniper Michelle Karvinen was a late removal from the game due to the flu, meaning a win for the Naisleijonat would have been a near-miracle – Karivnen’s absence was so last-minute that replacement assistant captain Minnamari Tuominen was forced to wear an “A” on her jersey made of hockey tape.
While early indications seemed that a win may have been possible with Susanna Tapani opening the scoring ten minutes in for Finland, U.S. sniper Hilary Knight needed just 28 seconds to tie things up at 1-1 with a chip shot over a Meeri Räisänen poke-check. Knight’s quickly doubled up with her second of the night just eight minutes later, banging in a Brianna Decker rebound from the side of the net to take the 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
The American onslaught continued in the second, with the Knight-Decker-Kendall Coyne line striking again just 76 seconds into the second, when Coyne buried a rebound past a helpless Räisänen after a Decker breakaway for the 3-1 lead. A shorthanded goal from Hannah Brandt, capping off a beautiful deke on defender Anna Kilponen, put the Americans up 4-1 after two, outshooting Finland 36-5. While the shots were a bit closer in the third (at 17-7 for Team USA) and no U.S. goals were scored, rookie Alex Rigsby remained sharp in net to hold up the 4-1 score as the final.
With the win, the U.S. retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship it won yesterday from Canada to open the tournament, their 28th title. This marks the first meeting between the U.S. and Finland over the title since last year’s Sochi Olympics, where the Americans kicked off their preliminary round with a 3-1 victory, and the tenth IHLC game all-time, with the U.S. holding a 9-1 record. The Americans will next look to complete their perfect Preliminary Round sweep over Russia, meeting them in two days’ time in Malmö for the IHLC.
06:57 – PEN – Rantamäki, slashing
10:01 – GOAL – Tapani (Nieminen)
10:29 – GOAL – Knight (Decker)
17:04 – PEN – Tapani, tripping
18:12 – PP GOAL – Knight (Decker)
21:16 – GOAL – Coyne (Decker, Knight)
26:13 – PEN – Haikarainen, hooking
33:55 – PEN – Nuutinen, slashing
35:39 – PEN – Trivigno, interference
36:18 – SH GOAL – Brandt (Keller)
42:41 – PEN – Savolainen, roughing
44:29 – PEN – Trivigno, slashing
55:05 – PEN – Savander, body checking
W: Rigsby (2-3), Schaus (0-0), Rigsby (9-9)
L: Räisänen (49-53)
SHOTS ON GOAL
15+21+17 = 53
3+2+7 = 12
Goaltenders: Alex Rigsby, Molly Schaus. Defence: Kacey Bellamy, Megan Keller, Monique Lamoureux, Emily Pfalzer, Michelle Picard, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Stephanie Anderson, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Alex Carpenter (A), Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker (A), Meghan Duggan (C), Zoe Hickel, Hilary Knight, Annie Pankowski, Haley Skarupa, Dana Trivigno.
Goaltenders: Meeri Räisänen, Eveliina Suonpää. Defence: Jenni Hiirikoski (C), Mira Jalosuo, Anna Kilponen, Rosa Lindstedt, Eve Savander, Ronja Savolainen, Minnamari Tuominen (A). Forwards: Jennica Haikarainen, Sari Kärnä, Niina Mäkinen, Riikka Nieminen (A), Emma Nuutinen, Suvi Ollikainen, Karoliina Rantamäki, Saila Saari, Vilma Tanskanen, Susanna Tapani, Noora Tulus, Linda Välimäki.