Team USA unsurprisingly swept the Group Round at the 2017 World Championships, but were forced to sweat a little before clinching a 5-3 victory over Finland, ensuring they retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship en route to the Semifinals.
It was the Naisleijonat that surprisingly struck first, with Susanna Tapani opening the scoring just four minutes in on a nifty deke after a failed clearing attempt, beating U.S. keeper Alex Rigsby glove-side to go up 1-0. The lead would hold for about eight minutes, when penalty trouble found the Americans on a two-man advantage, which sniper Hilary Knight took full advantage of, tapping in a rebound past star Finnish goalie Noora Räty in the blue paint to even things at 1-1, the score that would hold by first intermission.
Penalties would haunt the Finns in the second, with linemates Kendall Coyne and Knight each knocking in a power play tally, both on rebounds off Räty, to take a 3-1 lead by the 15 minute mark of the second period. But Finland, who by this point had already killed another five minutes, refused to die, and to draw momentum out of the Americans’ to end the second, Jenni Hiirikoski, the chaser player behind the play, skated in and wired a beautiful feed from Michelle Karvinen through traffic, and Rigsby, to close the gap to 3-2 with 24 seconds left in the second.
The comeback was complete by the midway point of the third, with Karvinen this time striking herself, going top shelf on Rigsby on a Finnish 2-on-1 to even the score at 3-3. With the Americans on their heels, the go-ahead goal came from an unlikely source in Hannah Brandt, who managed to bang in a one-timer off an innocent looking backhand from Gigi Marvin along the boards, taking the lead back with seven and a half minutes left in regulation. And despite two American penalties, Team USA would not fold again this time, and Jocelyne Lamoureux punched in an empty netter to squash the comeback attempt, with a final score of 5-3.
With the win, the Americans retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their 30th overall reign, which they captured from Canada and retained against Russia to start the tournament. The win improves the U.S.’ IHLC record against Finland to 13-1 all-time, their first meeting since a 4-0 victory at November’s Four Nations Cup. The Americans will now await the winner of the Russia-Germany Quarterfinal to see who their Semifinal opponent will be to meet for the IHLC.
04:46 – GOAL – Tapani (Niskanen)
10:40 – PEN – Hakala, tripping
12:04 – PEN – Karivnen, hooking
12:21 – PP2 GOAL – Knight (Kessel, Decker)
16:16 – PEN – Decker, hooking
17:31 – PEN – Hovi, slashing
22:11 – PEN – Nieminen, tripping
23:33 – PP GOAL – Coyne (Stack, Kessel)
25:29 – PEN – Niskanen, interference
30:13 – PEN – Lindstedt, tripping
31:07 – PEN – Savolainen, high sticking
34:56 – PEN – Hakala, boarding
35:43 – PP GOAL – Knight (Decker, Coyne)
39:36 – GOAL – Hiirikoski (Karvinen)
49:04 – GOAL – Karvinen
49:37 – PEN – Decker, throwing a stick
52:25 – GOAL – Brandt (Marvin)
53:35 – PEN – team, too many players
54:01 – PEN – Carpenter, tripping
59:00 – EN GOAL – J. Lamoureux
W: Rigsby (21-24)
L: Räty (35-39)
SHOTS ON GOAL
15+14+11 = 40
7+7+10 = 24
Goaltenders: Nicole Hensley, Alex Rigsby. Defence: Kacey Bellamy (A), Megan Bozek, Kali Flanagan, Megan Keller, Monique Lamoureux (A), Emily Pfalzer, Lee Stecklein. Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan (C), Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Gigi Marvin, Kelly Pannek, Amanda Pelkey, Haley Skarupa, Kelli Stack.
Goaltenders: Noora Räty, Eveliina Suonpää. Defence: Jenni Hiirikoski (C), Mira Jalosuo, Anna Kilponen, Rosa Lindstedt, Isa Rahunen, Ronja Savolainen, Minnamari Tuominen. Forwards: Sanni Hakala, Venla Hovi, Sari Kärnä, Michelle Karvinen (A), Petra Nieminen, Tanja Niskanen, Emma Nuutinen, Sara Säkkinen, Susanna Tapani, Noora Tulus, Riikka Välilä (A), Linda Välimäki, Saana Valkama.