On Sunday, Finland's women's ice hockey team pulled off a seemingly impossible task at the IIHF Women's World Championship, upsetting Canada, 4-3. It was the first time that Finland has ever beaten Canada in women's hockey and the first time Canada has lost to a team other than the U.S.
It was this team, riding the incredible momentum of defeating the reigning Olympic champion, that the U.S. faced off against in its final game of world championship pool play. Though Finland gave the U.S. its toughest task yet -- and ended its shutout streak -- Team USA continued rolling, storming to a 5-3 win. This sealed the top spot in the pool and a bye into the semifinals for the U.S., which has now won 17 consecutive world championship games.
Finland opened the scoring at 4:46 of the first period, as Susanna Tapani took advantage of U.S. defensive miscues, her shot beating goalie Alex Rigsby. Finnish goalie Noora Raty is one of the best in the world, and her outstanding play denied the U.S. on multiple opportunities. Finland incurred two penalties within less than two minutes, resulting in a 5-on-3 advantage for the U.S. Hilary Knight was able to cash in on the power play at 12:21, knocking in a rebound off a shot by Brianna Decker. Each team had a 5-on-4 advantage in the waning minutes of the period, but both goalies came up huge to keep the score knotted.
The U.S. took advantage of another power play to take the lead in the second period, when Kendall Coyne jammed in a loose puck at 23:33. Penalties became the story for the Finns, as they committed five in the second period alone. They killed three successfully, including yet another 5-on-3 advantage, but eventually the dam broke. Knight, held without a goal in the first two games of the tournament, netted her second of the game in an almost identical manner as the first: knocking in one of Decker's rebounds at 35:43. Knight now has 34 goals scored in 33 world championship games played. Finland was finally able to mount some offense with just 23 seconds left in the second period, Michelle Karvinen putting one in the back of the net.
Despite frantic action for the first half of the third period, Raty kept the U.S. off the board. Finland tied things up on the rush at 49:04 with Karvinen's second goal of the game. Hannah Brandt re-took the lead for the U.S. at 52:25, redirecting a feed from Gigi Marvin. After two penalties in quick succession, Finland had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:27 that the U.S. was able to survive without incident. Rigsby locked it down in the U.S. net as the clock wound down, and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored an empty-net goal at 59:00 to seal the deal. Brandt was named player of the game for Team USA after netting the game-winner.
With this win, the U.S. finishes pool play in first place with a 3-0 record. Canada, despite being one of three teams with a 1-2 record, finishes second in the pool based on goal differential over Finland (third) and Russia (fourth).
The quarterfinal round will be played on Tuesday, while Team USA will be back in action in Thursday's semifinals.