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Women’s World Championship Recap: Canada beats Finland 4-0

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Shannon Szabados posts a shutout to take the Canadians to the gold medal game.

Finland v Canada - 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship Semifinal - Marie-Philip Poulin (29) celebrates with Erin Ambrose (23), Natalie Spooner (24), Lauriane Rougeau (5) and Rebecca Johnston (6)
Marie-Philip Poulin (29) celebrates with Erin Ambrose (23), Natalie Spooner (24), Lauriane Rougeau (5) and Rebecca Johnston (6)
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Canada made only one change to the lineup established in the game against Russia. Marie-Philip Poulin, Emily Clark and Rebecca Johnston started the game, with Jocelyne Larocque and Meaghan Mikkelson on defence. Previously Larocque and Mikkelson were supporting Jennifer Wakefield’s line.

First period

Canada came out of the gate buzzing, getting right into the Finnish zone and refusing to leave. Noora Räty had several chances to deal with long before Shannon Szabados saw her first shot.

They got the first powerplay advantage when Räty got in Emily Clark’s way behind the net and was called for interference. Sadly for Canada, goalies don’t usually serve their own penalties. Meghan Agosta was then tripped up, leading to 20 seconds of 5 on 3. The second power play led to the best chance the Canadians had, a shot by Rebecca Johnston in close from a rebound.

Play evened out a little as the period wound down, with Finland gaining the zone more often. Szabados allowed few rebounds and Canada kept those entries short. Finally, Natalie Spooner carried the puck in and behind the net and centred it for a one-timer from Halli Krzyzaniak. Rookie Sarah Potomak was out at the side of the net to bat the rebound into the net and get Canada the lead with two and a half minutes left in the first.

The first Finnish power play came with just over a minute left in the period - called a slash by Blayre Turnbull on Räty. The Finns pressed but Canada got out of the period having allowed no goals and only five shots.

Second Period

Finland started the second with the tail end of the power play from the end of the first, and it kept them in the Canadian zone. The Canadians took a while to get organized. Spooner again got the puck into the Finnish zone, passed off to Marie-Philip Poulin, who simply took her time, picked her spot, and popped the water bottle to make it 2-0.

Not long after, Finland was called for hooking. Poulin got the puck to Johnston who showed off a wicked shot and it was 3-0. Finland called a time out and tried to regroup.

Just over the halfway mark in the game, Erin Ambrose went to the box for hooking. The Finns pressed the advantage but Szabados was a wall. In their eagerness, the Finns ended up with a penalty for too many men. As play shifted from 4 on 4 to the advantage the Canadians were all over Räty but the best they could do was a post.

Finland had a few more chances in the second, and Szabados continued to show why she’s Canada’s number one goalie.

Third Period

Early in the third Canada was called for hooking. Finland got a couple of good chances and the Canadian penalty kill looked a little disorganized, but the Finns failed to capitalize. Canada kept the pressure on at even strength, leading to a power play when Finnish forward Linda Välimäki was called for holding as she battled to keep Haley Irwin busy in front of the Finnish net.

The Finns got another power play but allowed several short-handed chances including a two on one where Clark went bar-and-out, missing a goal by centimetres.

The third Finnish power play turned into a 6 on 4 as Räty was pulled with over five minutes left in the game. A blocked shot came out into the neutral zone and Emily Clark took advantage of the empty net to make it 4-0.

The Finns went for 6 on 4 again on the last power play of the game, but Szabados and her penalty killers stood strong. When the power play expired Canada spent enough time in the Finnish zone that Räty came back in. Finland never gave up trying for at least one goal, but today the net belonged to Shannon Szabados and she served up a 23-save shutout.

There were several comments from the booth about Finland running out of gas, that they’d played a lot of hockey over the last five days. There’s certainly some truth to that, but not only did Canada have Szabados for this game, as a whole they were a vastly improved team from the one the Finns faced in the round robin.

Canada will play in the gold medal game tomorrow night at 7:35 pm, live on TSN.