International Ice Hockey Federation

Finns to face Canada again

Finns to face Canada again

Czech Republic's Cinderella run ends in QF

Published 01.04.2016 22:36 GMT-7 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Finns to face Canada again
KAMLOOPS, BC - APRIL 1: Finland's Riikka Valila #13 celebrates a first period goal against the Czech Republic's Klara Pestarova #29 during quarterfinal round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
It was a game that stayed scoreless for nearly 30 minutes, but Finland beat the Czechs 5-0 in the second quarter-final. Finland plays Canada in the semi-final.

Michelle Karvinen provided two goals and an assist, and Riikka Valila, Tanja Niskanen, and Venla Hovi each had a goal and an assist for Finland. Captain Jenni Hiirikoski added two helpers.

"We knew they were going to come out strong in the first period, but we were pretty confident in our team," said Karvinen. "It feels good to get a win and move on to the semis."

The Finns lost 6-1 to Canada in the round-robin, and are hoping for a better fate against the host nation at the Sandman Centre on Sunday.

"We’re playing better as a team this year [than last year]," said Finnish head coach Pasi Mustonen. "Individually, the North Americans are better. Our only chance against them is if we have a good goalie game and we play with the right discipline. We know we can do it."

The early semi-final will pit the defending champion Americans against Russia.

Despite the loss, the newly promoted Czechs have to be proud of what they've accomplished. They were expected to end up in relegation play, but instead, they’ve been competitive in every game they’ve played in Kamloops.

"Definitely it’s a great experience for us," said Czech captain Alena Polenska. "A lot of our kids are still young. It’s definitely a good step for the future, just the fact that we made it this far."

This quarter-final wasn’t quite the female equivalent of David and Goliath, but it was close.

The Czechs were playing in their first Women’s Worlds quarter-final in history, while the Finns have won more bronze medals at this tournament (11) than any other team, including the 2015 edition. It was the first time the two sides have ever faced each other in IIHF competition.

Finnish starter Meeri Raisanen got her first shutout of the tournament against Czech Republic goalie Klara Peslarova. Shots on goal favored Finland 44-8.

The Finnish power play came in clicking at 30 percent, second-best only to Canada’s, and it converted three more times here.

With four minutes left in the first, the Czech Republic's Tereza Vanisova had a couple of glorious chances to tuck the puck in from point-blank range but couldn’t do it. Vanisova, the two-goal heroine of the 3-1 upset against Switzerland, clutched her head in disbelief.

The Finns finally broke through with the opening goal halfway through the game. Shorthanded, Karvinen pushed the puck past a falling defender at the Czech blue line, and then Peslarova charged out to confront her. The puck went into the corner and Karvinen centered it for Valila to pop into the open side.

"One pokecheck, two pokechecks, the goalie somewhere!" Karvinen said with a smile as she described the chaos. "I finally found Riikka and she put it in the empty net. It was an important goal for the team. We needed to get that first one to get it rolling."

The Finnish power play came through to make it 2-0 at 16:01. Coming down the right side, Hovi made a beautiful back pass to Niskanen, and she zipped in her third goal of the tournament from the faceoff circle.

With 22 seconds left in the middle frame, Hovi put the game out of reach. Niskanen won the draw in the Czech zone and got it back to Tuominen, whose centre point drive got tipped in by Hovi.

At 2:07 of the third, Karvinen stretched the lead to 4-0, wiring one high to the blocker side on the power play. The Czechs had run out of gas by now, and it showed.

Karvinen potted another man-advantage marker over Peslarova's glove with 5:33 left to play, making it 5-0.

Of facing Canada next, Karvinen said: "We need to play our system better. We were giving them way too much space in the last game, giving up the red line and blue line. We need to meet them early on when they come on the rush, because if they come with too much speed, it’ll be too hard for us. If we play our system better and stick together as a team, it’ll be a whole different game."

The Czech Republic will take on Russia in the fifth-place game on Sunday.


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