Team Canada opened their Women’s World Championships with a 4-1 win over Team Finland on Thursday evening in Denmark. Sarah Nurse, Marie-Philip Poulin, Meaghan Mikkelson, and Blayre Turnbull scored for Canada, while Julia Liikala scored for the Finns. Ann-Renée Desbiens stopped 16 of 17 shots in the win, while Canada scored three goals on 42 shots on Anni Keisala in net for Finland.
The game was very physical, and the score close in the first period with Finland tying the game once and nearly again a second time on a penalty shot to Kiira Yrjänen, but Desbiens made a ridiculous toe save to stop her. By the time the third rolled around, Canada were discreetly putting the game away, not giving Finland anything. Shots were only 9-5 in Canada’s favour in the third.
20 Sarah Nurse — 29 Marie-Philip Poulin (C) — 19 Brianne Jenner
44 Sarah Potomak — 10 Sarah Fillier — 9 Jessie Eldridge
26 Emily Clark — 40 Blayre Turnbull — 51 Victoria Bach
43 Kristen O’Neill — 27 Emma Maltais — 7 Laura Stacey
47 Jamie-Lee Rattray
3 Jocelyne Larocque — 14 Renata Fast
28 Micah Zandee-Hart — 21 Ashton Bell
17 Ella Shelton — 12 Meaghan Mikkelson
35 Ann-Renée Desbiens
50 Kristen Campbell
33 Michelle Karvinen – 77 Susanna Tapani – 16 Petra Nieminen
24 Viivi Vainikka – 40 Noora Tulus – 10 Elisa Holopainen
91 Julia Liikala – 28 Jenniina Nylund – 32 Emilia Vesa
34 Sofiana Sundelin – 12 Sanni Vanhanen – 25 Kiira Yrjänen
19 Emmi Rakkolainen
6 Jenni Hiirikoski (C) – 88 Ronja Savolainen
9 Nelli Laitinen – 7 Sanni Rantala
2 Sini Karjalainen – 14 Krista Parkkonen
8 Ella Viitasuo
36 Anni Keisala
18 Meeri Räisänen
As we said in our preview, Natalie Spooner is not at this tournament as she is expecting a baby in December. Rebecca Johnston and Melodie Daoust were invited to camp but did not attend; neither said why publicly. That means Sarah Fillier has two different wingers on her second line this tournament, namely Sarah Potomak (filling the “Sarah” quota), and Jessie Eldridge. Both are 24 and played for Canada at the World Championships in 2018.
Also missing was defender Erin Ambrose who was injured in the pre-tournament game against Team USA. That game wasn’t televised so we don’t know what her injury nor how long she will be out. Ashton Bell joined Micah Zandee-Hart on the second pair. The quick Renata Fast took Ambrose’s spot on the first power play unit.
Goalie Noora Raty, likely due to unresolved issues dating back to the Olympics, is also not playing for Finland again.
Finland’s top winger Petra Nieminen was kicked out of the game early after striking a hit from behind on Kristen O’Neill. The Canadian went face-first into the boards after a hard hit into the numbers. Nieminen got five minutes and a game misconduct for the hit, O’Neill stayed in the game.
Sarah Nurse! She does it again on the power play (the one on Nieminen) with a tip from the high slot perfectly into the top corner. Poulin had the initial shot from the wing, fed to her by Larocque.
Julia Liikala! Finland ties the game quickly seconds after Nurse got out of the box, Susanna Tapani threw the puck on net, Desbiens released a rebound, and no one on Canada was there to find Liikala coming down from the opposite wing to tap in the chance.
MPP wanted to get involved and she did with a sneaky shot off the rush. Her linemates drove the net hard creating havoc, allowing MPP to make a nifty move to change the angle and beat Keisala high on the far side.
With 10 seconds left in the period, Canada gave up a breakaway to Yrjänen. She came in with a slick half spin and reverse. Desbiens cruelly got her right leg all the way to the post and stopped Yrjänen. No goal.
Kiira Yrjänen went for the highlight reel (she's 20, btw) on a PENALTY SHOT but Ann-Renée Desbiens had the answer to her slick move. Fantastic stuff from both players. Imagine being 20 and having the confidence to go with this against Desbiens? Holy smokes. pic.twitter.com/c9Vcq8FaqO— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) August 25, 2022
Meaghan Mikkelson scores her first goal in five years! The 37-year-old defender comes down from the point into the slot and takes the one-timer from Ella Shelton and somehow gets the puck through the crowd to increase Canada’s lead. This was her first international goal since 2015, where she’s scored for Luleå in Sweden, Calgary’s PWHPA team, and for Calgary in the CWHL.
Canada shut the game down from there, underwhelming on their power play, but stifling Finland on the penalty kill. With a few minutes left, Finland pulled their goalie, Blayre Turnbull scored on the empty net to seal the deal with 90 seconds left in the game.
Empty netter for Turnbull, who won a battle off the faceoff in the defensive zone and shot the puck all the way down the ice and into the empty Finnish net.
Canada plays Switzerland on Saturday at 1pm as Group A continues. Finland plays the United States at 9am the same day.