Coming off a win over the United States to complete a perfect preliminary
Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team takes on Finland in a Saturday semifinal at the 2023 IIHF U18 Women’s World
Canada wrapped up an unblemished prelims with a
3-1 victory over the United States on Wednesday. Caitlin Kraemer continued her torrid goal-scoring pace,
scoring a pair of goals for the third game in a row. Emmalee Pais had the
game-winner and Charlotte Pieckenhagen added two helpers to help Canada
clinch first place, holding the Americans to just 12 shots on goal.
Finland is coming off
a come-from-behind 3-2 quarterfinal victory over Czechia on Thursday. Sanni Vanhanen and Pauliina Salonen scored two minutes apart
in the final 7:33 to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. Salonen
scored twice on the power play, ending an 0-for-9 stretch for the Finns,
and Kerttu Kuja-Halkola turned aside 28 shots to backstop Finland to its
first win of the tournament.
Canada and Finland are very familiar foes – the semifinal will be the third
time the two teams will face off against each other in a span of nine days.
After Finland earned
a 4-3 pre-tournament win,
Canada answered back with an 8-0 victory in the preliminary-round opener last Sunday. Eleven Canadians got onto the
scoresheet in that one, led by Kraemer, who scored twice and added an
assist, while Alex Law recorded three helpers.
What To Watch
In the absence of captain Jocelyn Amos, Pais has stepped up for Canada,
wearing the ‘C’ for the last two games, scoring against Sweden before
netting the game-winning goal against the Americans and posting a
team-leading (and tournament-leading) +7 mark while averaging 19:09 of ice
time per game, second to Kraemer among all Canadian forwards.
Having scored just five goals in four games (just two in the prelims) while
allowing 157 shots, the Finns have leaned heavily on their goaltending.
Kuja-Halkola has been a workhorse, appearing in all four games and facing a
tournament-high 122 shots (Slovakia’s Livia Debnarova is next at 116, but
has played 55 more minutes). She made 40 saves in the prelim loss to the
A Look Back
Overall, the long-time women’s hockey rivals have met 12 times at the IIHF
U18 Women’s World Championship, with Canada’s lone loss a 2-0
preliminary-round defeat last June in Madison, Wisconsin.
Some of the best Canadian single-game performances have come against the
Finns – Laura Fortino (1-4—5) and Natalie Spooner (0-5—5) had five points
apiece, and Marie-Philip Poulin scored a hat trick
as part of a 17-0 win – Canada’s largest victory ever at the U18 women’s worlds – in 2008.
All-time record: Canada leads 11-1
Canada goals: 71
Finland goals: 6