Canada 2 - Finland 0
CANADIAN WOMEN'S HOCKEY TEAM INTO SEMIFINALS AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
WINTERTHUR, Switzerland – When the Canadian women's hockey team had a four-day break between thepreliminary round and medal games at last year's Winter Olympics, they sneaked in an extra game against amidget boys' team in Vancouver.
They did it to stay sharp for the gold-medal game against the U.S. because Canada wasn't challenged intheir pool games. The players and coaches were sworn to secrecy and the games referred to as “aquariumtrips.”
Canada has three days without a game at the women's world championship after beating Finland 2-0 onTuesday in Winterthur. The Olympic champs finished first in Pool B at 3-0 and earned a bye to Saturday'ssemifinals in Zurich.
Head coach Ryan Walter insisted he hasn't recruited any local Swiss boys' teams to give the women aworkout between now and then, under the code word “chocolate tasting” or “clock-factory tour.”
“No boys' teams. I won't pull a fast one on you,” he said with a grin. “We think our girls deserve a dayoff.”
Switzerland (2-1) finished second and Finland (1-1-1) third behind Canada in Pool B, while Kazakhstan(0-3) heads to the relegation round.
The U.S. and Sweden meet Wednesday to determine the winner, and who gets the bye, in Pool A. Both teamswere 2-0. Russia and Slovakia, both 0-2, meet in another game with a quarter-final berth on the line.
The Swiss will face the No. 3 team from Pool A and the Finns the No. 2 team in Friday's quarter-finals.Canada will play its remaining two games out of the 10,660-seat Hallenstadion in Zurich.
After 12-0 and 7-0 wins against host Switzerland and Kazakhstan respectively to open the tournament, theCanadians were finally tested and mostly by Finnish goaltender Noora Raty. Canada was in Finland's end themajority of the game, but Raty made the Canadians work for it with 47 saves.
Rebecca Johnston of Sudbury, Ont., scored in the first period and Jayna Hefford of Kingston, Ont., addedan empty netter in the third. Edmonton's Shannon Szabados stopped all 14 shots shesaw and extended Canada's shutout streak here to three games.
“Goaltending was the only difference between a two-nothing and a 10-nothing game,” Canadian captain HayleyWickenheiser said. “Credit to her. She played really well. Sometimes we were trying to be a bit cute with thepuck.
“A lot of the rebounds kicked out past our forwards. We missed some pucks and stuff, but we'll take it.It's not always going to be seven or eight-nothing.”
Walter was pleased his team finally felt tension in a game here and prevailed. Should Canada meet thetwo-time defending champ U.S. in Monday's final, they can draw on the experience of already playing a tightgame.
“I thought a couple of our girls were a little frustrated after two periods or a period and a half and wecan't get frustrated,” he said. “These are the games we're going to win a gold medal with.
“That helps us get ready, when you're under pressure and it's a 1-0 game.”
The European countries all play a similar style to stop Canada, but the Finns execute that strategy betterthan the others. They clogged up the middle lanes and let Raty vacuum up a multitude of shots from theoutside. When Canada did penetrate the slot, the Finn often tied them up.
Canada missed golden chances too. They didn't score on a pair of five-on-three chances in the firstperiod. Raty stopped Jennifer Wakefield and Johnston on a two-on-one and Marie-Philip Poulin hit the post inthe third. Raty got her pad on a Jayna Hefford backhand during Canada's second-period power play.
“I think we generated good big chances. Their biggest tactic was number 41,” Walter said of Raty.
Finland has just 10 players returning from the Olympic team that won bronze in Vancouver and two of themare goaltenders. The Finns lost 15-0 to Canada at the Four Nations Cup in November.
“This was good for our self-confidence and those young players that they were able to play well againstCanada,” said Raty, who plays in the NCAA for Minnesota. “Our defence played really well so I saw the puckall the time. I was able to play well and give us a chance to win.”
The Canadian players get a day off from the ice Wednesday before resuming practices Thursday and Friday.More power-play and defending their own end is on the agenda. Canada has yet to be really tested in thedefensive zone, but they will if they face the U.S. on Monday for gold.
“The best games we get are the practices we have against each other,” Wickenheiser said. “We'll have tochallenge each other. That's often where you can really see the habits taken to another level. We just haveto push that internally and not get lax on things.”
Canada had a scare in the second period when defender Meaghan Mikkelson went down awkwardly in the cornerwith Finland assistant captain Jenni Hirikoski. Mikkelson limped off, but returned the ice the same periodand played the rest of the game.
Notes: While Finland has twice beaten the U.S. over the last three years, they've never beaten Canada. Theclosest they've come was a 6-6 tie Jan. 20, 1999 . . . Germany won promotion from the Division 1 worldchampionship to next year's world women's championship in Burlington, Vt.
|Arena||Eishalle Deutweg||City, Country||Winterthur, SUI|
|Month / Day / Year||04/19/2011||Time||10:05 AM ET|
12:46 CAN 6 Rebecca Johnston (21 Haley Irwin)
19:34 CAN 16 Jayna Hefford (2 Meghan Agosta, 22 Hayley Wickenheiser) EN
|Shots on Goal||1||2||3||Total|
For more information:
Kalli Quinn Director, Female National Teams | Équipes nationales féminines