May 26th, 2024

Canada out of the gates with a 4-1 win over Finland in women’s world hockey

By Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press on April 4, 2024.

Canada's Brianne Jenner (19) celebrates her goal on Finland goaltender Sanni Ahola (1) with teammates Sarah Fillier (10), Jocelyne Larocque (3) and Jamie Lee Rattray (47) during first period hockey action at the IIHF Women's World Hockey Championship in Utica, N.Y., Thursday, April 4, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

UTICA, N.Y. – Canada opened the women’s world hockey championship with a 4-1 win over Finland on Thursday.

Defender Ella Shelton led Canada with a goal and two assists. Brianne Jenner, Emma Maltais and Julia Gosling also scored at the Adirondack Back Center.

Ann-Renee Desbiens made 33 saves to improve to a career 36-7 with the national women’s team.

Petra Nieminen scored Finland’s lone goal.

St. Cloud State University goaltender Sanni Ahola stopped 32 shots for the Finns after a 29-save performance in a 4-0 loss to Czechia the previous day.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin was in Canada’s lineup Thursday after sitting out an 8-2 pre-tournament win over Finland in Kingston, Ont.

Poulin missed PWHL Montreal’s last three games before the international break with an undisclosed injury.

Canada had 18 hours to recover before the puck dropped on its second game of the tournament Friday afternoon against Switzerland (0-1).

Canada led 1-0 and 3-1 at period breaks.

The Canadians were scoreless on a pair of power-play chances in the first period and held Finland to 0-for-3 in the second.

Finland pulled Ahola for an extra attacker with five minutes remaining in the game, but a Noora Tulus slashing minor sent Ahola back to the net with four minutes left.

With Ahola down in a goal-mouth scramble, Shelton roofed the puck for a power-play goal at 17:40.

Canada’s roughing and hooking penalties with Ahola pulled gave the Finns a six-on-three for the final 12 seconds, but Desbiens repelled their final attack.

Canada led 3-1 on Gosling’s goal with 32 seconds remaining in the second period.

Kristin O’Neill driving towards the back boards sent the puck back to the rookie to go forehand-backhand for her first world championship goal.

The Finns halved the deficit at 4:49. Michelle Karvinen collected her own rebound and took the puck behind the net to feed Nieminen at the side.

Natalie Spooner swooped out from behind Finland’s net to connect with Maltais in the slot at 18:02 of the second period.

Jenner dropped to her knee to convert a rebound on a Jamie Lee Rattray shot at 9:15 of the first.

The Canadians will cap Group A games with another back-to-back Sunday afternoon against Czechia and Monday evening against the United States.

In other games Thursday, China edged Japan 3-2 in a shootout and Germany downed Denmark 5-1 in Group B.

The tournament’s top five seeds in Group A and the top three from Group B advance to the April 11 quarterfinals.

The semifinals are April 13 and the medal games April 14.

Canada improved to 25-2 all-time versus Finland in world championships and 87-2-1.

Canada has won 12 gold medals in 22 women’s world hockey championship held since 1990.

Canadian teams have reached the final in all but one. The U.S. defeated host Canada 6-3 in last year’s final in Brampton, Ont.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2024.

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