GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. FINLAND (APRIL 1)
Before days before the start of the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship,
Canada’s National Women’s Team is on the ice for its lone pre-tournament game Saturday night, taking on
Finland in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Canada completed a reverse sweep of the United States in the Rivalry Series
on Feb. 22,
using a four-goal second period to blank the Americans 5-0 in Laval,
Que., in Game 7 and win the series despite dropping the first three games. Blayre Turnbull
scored twice in 32 seconds, Marie-Philip Poulin crept closer to a milestone
(more on that below) and Ann-Renée Desbiens made 25 saves for the
Canadians, who outscored the U.S. 10-1 over the final two games.
The Finns last saw the ice on Feb. 12,
downing Sweden 4-1 in Füssen, Germany, in the finale of the Euro Hockey Tour (EHT). Petra
Nieminen, Viivi Vainikka and Sanni Vanhanen scored first-period goals for
Finland, which outshot the Swedes 34-15. The Finns were perfect in the EHT,
winning all 12 of their games.
The Canadians and Finns met in the opener of the preliminary round at the
2022 Women’s Worlds –
a 4-1 win for Canada. Poulin and Sarah Nurse posted a goal and an assist apiece to pace the
offence, and the Canadians finished with a 43-17 edge in shots on goal.
What to Watch
What will the lines look like for Canada? Poulin and Brianne Jenner are
mainstays on the top line, but who will join them on the left wing? Where
does Natalie Spooner slot into the lineup in her return to Team Canada,
just four months after giving birth? How about NCAA standout Danielle
scored the overtime winner in Game 5 of the Rivalry Series in December? Look for head coach Troy Ryan to try different players in
different positions before settling on his line combos for the tournament
opener against Switzerland on April 5.
The legend of Jenni Hiirikoski continues to grow. The long-time Finnish
captain is arguably the best blue-liner in the game, recognized seven times
as Best Defence at the IIHF Women’s World Championship and twice more at
the Olympics. But her career (and potentially her life) looked to be in
danger when her throat was slashed by a skate during Game 2 of the SDHL
final on March 19. Just two days later, though, the Luleå HF captain was
behind the bench serving as a coach as her team finished off its
fifth-straight Swedish league title. Simply amazing.
Poulin joined an exclusive group in Game 6 of the Rivalry Series on Feb.
20, reaching 200 points with Canada’s National Women’s Team and putting her
name alongside Hayley Wickenheiser, Jayna Hefford, Caroline Ouellette and
Danielle Goyette as the only players to get to that number.
Next up? She sits just two goals shy of 100. Only Wickenheiser, Hefford and
Goyette have hit the century mark in a Team Canada jersey.
A Look Back
Canada has just a pair of losses and a tie in 87 all-time meetings with the
Finns, but the Nordic nation is always a tough matchup.
There have been plenty of impressive individual performances against
Finland over the years, but two stand out. When the teams met at
the 2006 4 Nations Cup in Kitchener, Ont., Jayna Hefford had a hat trick and four assists and Caroline Ouellette
added a hat trick and three helpers to help Canada to an 8-1 win. Hefford’s
seven points remain a single-game Team Canada record.
All-time record: Canada leads 84-2-1
Canada goals: 449
Finland goals: 111