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2021 Women’s Worlds: Young players shine, but veterans re-write the record book as Canada, USA move to 2-0

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A mix of youth and experience lead an historic third day of the tournament.

Finland v Canada: Group A - 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Knight ties Granato in another USA 3-0 win

Hilary Knight scored in the third period to make the score 3-0 as the United States defeated Finland 3-0 on Sunday night in Calgary at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship.

It was her 44th career World Championship goal, tying Cammi Granato for the all-time goal scoring record at the tournament.

Knight said she didn’t realize the goal tied Granato’s mark and said that the individual accolades don’t mean anything if it doesn’t come with the team success at the end.

Grace Zumwinkle and Kelly Pannek also scored for the Americans, who got a second straight 3-0 win. Zumwinkle, 22, scored in her second straight game at her first World Championship.

“[Zumwinkle] is just one of a long list of young players who step up in big moments and they’re not scared of anything,” said Pannek. “They are all super skilled and have this youthfulness and energy that is needed.”

They outshot Finland 39-10. Meeri Räisänen made 36 saves for Finland in her first start of the tournament. Nicole Hensley got the shutout for Team USA.

“It wasn’t a close game. USA was much better today,” said Finland head coach Pasi Mustonen. “With eight newcomers, we’re not able to play three tough games against Canada and the United States in five nights. The third one was too much. We’re not ready for that yet. We didn’t play a good game.”

On a bright side for Finland, team captain Jenni Hiirikoski played a record 70th game at the Women’s World Championship.

“I think it’s always an honour to put this Lions jersey on and it’s special that I have had that chance 70 times,” she said. “I have to be happy that I have stayed healthy for many years. It’s a special moment.”

“Without Jenni leading the team, we wouldn’t be the team that actually won the Worlds two years ago. I can’t describe her importance to Finnish women’s hockey,” Mustonen said. “She’s the greatest team athlete I’ve ever coached, and I’ve coached players who made it to the NHL. She’s a mother, she’s a coach, she’s a friend, she’s everything in the same package. Totally unique.”

“She’s an icon in the sport,” said Knight. “It’s been an honour to play against her. She always brings that ferocious to every battle.”

The United States will play the Russian Olympic Committee team on Tuesday before their round robin finale against Canada on Thursday. Finland wraps up with ROC on Wednesday and Switzerland on Thursday.

Strong second period leads Canada over ROC

First-time World Championship players Sarah Fillier and Ella Shelton scored two goals in 1:48 as Canada dominated the Russian Olympic Committee in a 5-1 win.

Canada dominated the opening period, outshooting ROC 17-3 but were unable to score on Russian goaltender Nadezhda Morozova. Morozova would end up making 33 saves on 36 shots before being pulled after 34:19.

After Fillier and Shelton’s goals early in the second period, Erin Ambrose scored her second of the tournament to make it 3-0.

Mélodie Daoust and Rebecca Johnston added third period goals for Canada. Victoria Bach looked to score her first goal for Canada at the Worlds, but it was called back on an offside review. Anna Prugova made 24 saves on 26 shots in relief as Canada outshot ROC 62-7.

Ann-Renée Desbiens made six saves on seven shots. The only goal she allowed was off of a faceoff in the Canadian zone after a late Jill Saulnier penalty. ROC captain Olga Sosina fired a shot top shelf to break the shutout.

Fillier and Shelton are among a group of first-time players at the Worlds, and Canada head coach Troy Ryan says the team isn’t surprised by the youngsters contributing and that the team is building chemistry.

“I don’t think we should be surprised, they’re quality players and play with confidence,” Ryan said. “I think the part of the equation that others might not be aware of would be the leadership and veteran players on the team. How they’ve embraced the young players, they’ve made them feel comfortable from the first time they’ve been with our group, and that kind of mentality is contagious. When you start feeling good with the people you’re around, you can play a little bit looser and with more confidence. The young players deserve a lot of credit, but the veteran players equally deserve credit for the environment they’ve created with this group.”

Czechs keep rolling

The Czech Republic continued their hot start in Group B, beating Hungary 4-2. They rolled out to a 4-0 lead, but Hungary scored in the final second of the second period, and added another goal in the final minute of the third.

“At the beginning of the game, we were a little scared, and not confident in ourselves, but as the game went on I thought we played really well and felt more confident,” said Hungarian defender Lotti Ognoda. “We weren’t scared to have the puck, and we didn’t just throw the it away, we actually played it.”

“We stopped playing the way we wanted and they started outworking us,” said Czech forward Vendula Pribylova, who also scored in the win. “But we’re happy that we finished the game how we did.”

Denisa Krizova had a goal and an assist, and Tereza Vanisova had two assists. Klara Peslarova made 11 saves for her second win in the tournament.

“We started the game the way we wanted to, and scored a couple of quick goals, stayed with our plan and played together,” said Krizova.

Reka Dabasi scored Hungary’s first ever goal at the top level of the tournament, and team captain Fanni Gasparics scored the third period goal. Hungary was shut out in their opening game against Germany. Zsofia Toth made 32 saves in the loss.

“It was a big relief for our team to finally put one in,” said Dabasi. “We had a lot of chances against Germany, but couldn’t score so it was definitely a big relief for us.”