Team USA escaped a far closer, far too close for comfort Group A game against the Finns tonight, with a narrow 2-1 victory to improve to 2-0 in Kamloops and retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Perhaps taking a similar cautious approach to open the game as they did the previous night, the Naisleijonat came out swinging, stunning their foes with a Michelle Karvinen goal just over five minutes into the opening period, lifting in a nifty backhander over Jessie Vetter’s glove following a 2-on-1 passing play. Despite being outshot 11-3 on the frame, the Finns, and goalie Meeri Räisänen, were vigilant, but conceded a late goal to the hot hand of Hilary Knight, redirecting a Lee Stecklein point shot to end the first tied at 1-1.
Joceylne Lamoureux gave the Americans their first lead 5:09 into the second period, wiring a nifty wraparound pass from Shiann Darkangelo from behind the net from the top of the slot, being left alone to beat Räisänen one on one. The wall for Finland’s defense, and Räisänen, however, came down at this point, as despite being outshot 20-1 in the second period, and taking a late penalty, they did not concede another goal.
Nor did they again in the third. Again, with the shots coming fast and furious to the tune of 20-3 for the Americans, Räisänen was standing on her head, shutting out the rapid fire, powerhouse U.S. offense, particularly the top line of Knight, Kendall Coyne and Brianna Decker. However, despite only facing seven shots all night, Vetter still needed to remain vigilant, shutting down a few key Finnish chances to tie en route to the win.
With the win, Team USA retains their 28th and current International Hockey Lineal Championship, marking their eleventh consecutive victory since winning the title last March at the 2015 World Championships. This marked the 12th IHLC meeting between these two teams, who last met in November in a 7-0 thrashing by the Americans’ hand at the Four Nations Cup. The Americans will finish their group round in two days’ time against Russia, with the IHLC and three valuable points on the line.
05:03 – GOAL – Karvinen (R. Nieminen, Jalosuo)
14:59 – PEN – Lindstedt, body checking
19:02 – GOAL – Knight (Stecklein)
31:32 – PEN – Tuominen, interference
35:09 – GOAL – J. Lamoureux (Darkangelo, Pankowski)
39:41 – PEN – Niskanen, interference
40:48 – PEN – Coyne, slashing
44:00 – PEN – Jalosuo, high sticking
58:53 – PEN – Lindstedt, interference
W: Vetter (6-7)
L: Räisänen (49-51)
SHOTS ON GOAL
11+20+20 = 51
3+1+3 = 7
Goaltenders: Alex Rigsby, Jessie Vetter. Defence: Kacey Bellamy (A), Megan Bozek, Monique Lamoureux (A), Emily Pfalzer, Michelle Picard, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Shiann Darkangelo, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Zoe Hickel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Annie Pankowski, Haley Skarupa, Kelli Stack, Dana Trivigno.
Goaltenders: Anni Keisala, Meeri Räisänen. Defence: Jenni Hiirikoski (C), Mira Jalosuo, Anna Kilponen, Rosa Lindstedt, Ronja Savolainen, Minnamari Tuominen. Forwards: Venla Hovi, Sari Kärnä, Michelle Karvinen (A), Petra Nieminen, Riikka Nieminen (A), Tanja Niskanen, Suvi Ollikainen, Saila Saari, Sara Sakkinen, Vilma Tanskanen, Noora Tulus, Saana Valkama.