Wednesday, May 22, 2024

USA, Canada to play for gold at 2024 Women’s World Championship

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Don’t lie, you figured this was going to happen again.

The two hockey superpowers moseyed their way through the group stage, and are gearing up for another clash in the final game of the Women’s World Championship.

Let’s see how these two teams did in the semifinals on Saturday.

Edwards leads United States to win over Finland

While the Americans have a team filled with players who have been there and done that, it was one of the younger faces that helped them pull away in a 6-0 win over Finland.

The U.S. overwhelmed the Finns in the opening minutes of the game and ended up leading in shots, 22-4, in the first period. One of the lines consisting of college players opened the scoring, as Abbey Murphy and Tessa Janecke created a scoring chance that was finished off by Hannah Bilka, her first goal of the tournament, shortly after the halfway mark of the period.

The second period saw the U.S. continue to press on, firing 20 shots at Sanni Ahola.

There were some tense moments a little past the halfway mark of the period, as Siiri Yrjola knocked down Kendall Coyne Schofield, sending the PWHL Minnesota captain hard into the endboards. She skated off the ice under her own power, and went into the locker room. However, Coyne Schofield returned to the game a few minutes later.

On the ensuing power play, a wicked shot by Laila Edwards, after a great feed from Janecke, beat Ahola for her third goal of the tournament, making it 2-0 USA heading into the third.

With their gold medal hopes on the line, Finland came out with a couple of good looks in the opening moments of the final frame, but Aerin Frankel made some nice saves to keep the Finns off the board.

Less than three minutes into the period, a great individual effort from Taylor Heise led to the PWHL Minnesota rookie getting stopped by Ahola, but Edwards was there on the rebound for her second of the game. Not even four minutes later, Heise and Edwards would connect again, as Edwards one-timed a Heise pass into the back of the net to complete the natural hat trick.

A long-range wrister from Savannah Harmon capped off the win, as the United States punched their ticket to the gold medal game for the 23rd time.

The U.S. ended up outshooting Finland 55-15 in the win, with Frankel posting her fourth shutout of the tournament, setting a new Women’s Worlds record.

Heise, Janecke and Kirsten Simms all had two assists in the win.

Ahola was credited with 50 saves in the losing effort. Suomi has a chance to win its first bronze medal since 2021.

Canada pulls away from Czechia

The second semifinal saw an intriguing matchup between Canada and the underdogs in Czechia. However, the hockey powerhouse left no doubt, controlling the play in a 4-0 win.

While Canada might not have put the same shot total up on the board as the U.S. did in their first period, the Canadians struck first a little over four minutes into the game, with Laura Stacey setting up Blayre Turnbull’s first goal of the tournament.

In the waning minutes of the frame, in which Canada outshot the Czechs 13-1, another nice play from Stacey led to Jocelyne Larocque potting her first at this year’s Women’s Worlds as well, sending Canada into the second period with a two-goal cushion.

It did not take long for the Canadians to extend the lead in the second period, as Emily Clark bounced the puck off Czech netminder Klara Peslarova to make it 3-0. Canada never allowed Czechia to gain much of an attack, leading the shot count in the middle stanza, 14-5.

Canada kept their foot on the gas in the final 20 minutes, throwing 20 shots on goal to Czechia’s three. Sarah Fillier’s second goal of the tournament, a few minutes into the third, sealed the win.

Canada ended the night with 47 shots on goal, with Czechia only putting nine on Ann-Renée Desbiens, who posted her second shutout of the tournament. Peslarova finished with 43 saves in the losing effort.

Larocque and Clark both had a goal and an assist in the win.

Czechia will meet Finland in the bronze medal game, searching for a third straight third-place finish at the Women’s Worlds.

Here we go again

The U.S. is looking to win back-to-back championships for the first time since winning five straight gold medals from 2013 to 2019. This team looks unbeatable. Whether it be veterans like Coyne Schofield or Hilary Knight, or the next wave of talent like Murphy and Heise, this team has an incredible amount of depth. Not to mention, they have an incredible netminder in Frankel.

Canada wants revenge on losing to the U.S. in the Group A finale last week. While players like Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse have played well, the scoring has been very balanced for the Canadians. Renata Fast leads the team with three goals, with she and Kristin O’Neill tied for the team lead with five points each.

The Americans are 10-12 in gold medal games at the Women’s Worlds, with all of their losses coming at the hands of Canada. Conversely, Canada is 12-9 against the U.S. in gold medal games in this particular tournament.

Canada is 102-78-1 against the United States, with the Canadians winning 30 of the 51 gold medal game matchups across all competitions.

Three Stars

  1. Laila Edwards, F, United States: For a player listed as an extra forward, Edwards has given the U.S. an extra jump on the offensive end in this tournament. For a player who is making her world championship debut, Edwards is making it seem like she’s been here before.
  2. Jocelyne Larocque, D, Canada: Similar to what her defense partner Renata Fast did in the quarterfinals, Larocque was part of Canada’s offensive prowess against the Czechs but also was excellent in her own zone. 
  3. Aerin Frankel, G, United States: While she might not have had the busiest night, Frankel’s consistency throughout the tournament and over the last couple of months with PWHL Boston has to be rewarded somehow. 

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