Canada off to semis
Finns to face underdog Czechs in quarter-finals
Jennifer Wakefield scored twice and Marie-Philip Poulin, Rebecca Johnston, Brianne Jenner, and Jillian Saulnier added singles for Canada. The Canadians finished second in Group A behind the perfect Americans.
"I think it was our best team game," said Wakefield. "It was really good to carry through momentum. We played a really strong Russia game, and taking it to the next step tonight, I think it’ll be great for whoever we face in the semi-finals."
Petra Nieminen replied for Finland, which came third in the group.
Shots on goal favored Canada 41-19.
The host nation is now two wins away from capturing Women's Worlds gold for the first time since 2012. Every tournament dating back to 1990 has had a Canada-U.S. final, and that'll likely unfold here again.
"Obviously we started with a bang against the U.S," said Natalie Spooner. "I thought we had a good game, but couldn’t win that one. A bit of a slow start against Russia, but we picked it up. Then today I think we had a great game against Finland. We could see them again in the semis, so I think that’s just confidence for us moving forward."
The Finns, last year's bronze medalists, have never beaten Canada in 19 tries dating back to 1990 at this tournament.
Finland will be favored against the Czechs, but can't be overconfident. The Czechs barely lost to Sweden (3-2), surprised Switzerland (3-1) and edged Japan (3-2).
The other quarter-final will pit Russia, fourth in Group A, against Sweden, first in Group B.
Wakefield said she was looking forward to an extra day off before Sunday's semi-final: "it’s always great to have that day off and relax and hang out with family and friends. Then you kind of get back into your hockey bubble after your day off."
Here, it took just 1:04 for the host nation to draw first blood. From the corner, Meghan Agosta centered it to an onrushing Poulin and the puck found its way past Finnish starter Meeri Raisanen.
The Canadian pressure kept coming. Raisanen had to make a nice left pad save on Spooner’s shorthanded rush.
Canada took a 2-0 lead at 8:04 of the second period on the power play. After a wild sequence where a Finnish defender’s stick blade went flying into the crowd, Johnston rushed in to whack a rebound over Raisanen.
Finland looked like it had life when it struck back just 18 seconds later with Poulin off for tripping. Right off the faceoff in the Canadian end, Riikka Valila got the puck to Nieminen, and she beat Canadian goalie Emerance Maschmeyer over the glove
But Finland’s mistakes would prove to be its undoing in the middle frame. Canada struck for three goals in less than three minutes.
Jenner scored at 13:35 on a wraparound, with Canada pressuring the Finns and Raisanen getting caught out of position by her left post.
At 14:33, Saulnier put the game out of reach at 4-1. Blayre Turnbull won a faceoff in the Finnish end, and Saulnier wired it high past the Finnish netminder.
Wakefield scored Canada’s fifth goal unassisted at 16:06, grabbing the puck inside the Finnish blue line on a turnover and racing in to slide it past Raisanen’s left skate.
"Her shot is unbelievable," said Spooner of Wakefield. "We just need her to use it more, and she was tonight."
The partisan fans of the red Maple Leaf rejoiced. There would be no Finnish comeback after that.
Agosta was shaken up in a second-period collision and helped off, but she came back for the third.
"I was a little worried," Spooner admitted. "She’s my linemate, obviously. I felt like we’ve been getting better throughout the tournament, even if we haven’t been finishing as much as we’d like. It would be really tough to lose her at this point. I’m happy she’s feeling good and still going."
Finland switched goalies in the third period, as back-up Anni Keisala saw her first action of the tournament. She allowed Wakefield's second of the night on the power play, a beautiful wrister from the faceoff circle with 1:42 remaining.
"With these last couple of games, we have a lot of confidence going forward," said Maschmeyer. "No matter who we play, we’re not going to change our game plan. We’re going to stick to it and take it to them."
During the first intermission at the Sandman Centre, a ceremony honored the members of the golden 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2004 Canadian Women's World Championship teams.
Canada vs. Finland
A three-goal outburst in the second period helped Canada beat Finland 6-1. Canada gets a semi-final bye. The Finns face the Czechs in the quarter-finals.