CALGARY — Sarah Fillier scored the game-winner for Canada in a 5-3 win over Finland to open the women’s world hockey championship Friday in Calgary.
The 21-year-old from Georgetown, Ont., scored at 7:38 of the third period and Brianne Jenner added an empty-net goal.
Erin Ambrose, Jamie Lee Rattray and Marie-Philip Poulin also scored for Canada. Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped eight shots for the win.
Minnamari Tuominen, Nelli Laitinen and Elisa Holopainen replied for the Finns with Anni Keisala turning away 39 shots in the loss.
Canada didn’t play in a world championship final for the first time in the history of the tournament in 2019 after a 4-2 defeat to Finland in the semifinal.
Canada took the bronze medal, while the host Finns fell 2-1 in a shootout to the United States in the gold-medal game in Espoo.
Canada’s 4-1 pre-tournament win Wednesday over Finland in Calgary was the first meeting between the two countries since that semifinal.
Trailing 2-0 after the opening period Friday, Canada swarmed Finland’s zone in the second with a 25-2 edge in shots, and scored twice in a 12-second span to pull even.
The host country led for the first time in the game early in the third period when Jenner’s redirection of a Claire Thompson shot deflected off Ambrose and by Keisala.
Holopainen pulled the Finns even at 7:13 with a backhand tip between the pads of Desbiens, but Fillier scored another go-ahead goal for Canada 35 seconds later.
Poulin wired a wrist shot past Keisala after Rattray scored at 14:39 during a goal-mouth scramble in the second period.
Finland’s power-play went 0-for-11 in the tune-up, but converted its first chance Friday to spot the visitors a two-goal lead by 6:05 of the opening period.
Tuominen scored on a five-on-three. Laitinen’s off-speed deflection of a Sofianna Sundelin shot spun by the glove of Desbiens at 2:07.
The Czech Republic downed Denmark 6-1 in Pool B on Friday as the 10-country championship got underway over two years after the last one in Espoo.
The 2020 and 2021 tournaments scheduled for Halifax and Truro, N.S., were both cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns.
When Nova Scotia pulled the plug on the tournament in May, Hockey Canada rescheduled and relocated the tournament to Calgary in the summer less than six months out from Beijing’s Winter Olympics in February.
Canada meets Russia in Pool A on Sunday, followed by Switzerland on Tuesday and the U.S. on Thursday.
The quarterfinals Aug. 28 are followed by the Aug. 30 semifinals and medal games Aug. 31.
Hockey Canada didn’t sell tickets for the preliminary round, but allows a maximum of 120 family members into a dedicated section of WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre if they wear masks and don’t have COVID-19 symptoms.
No player, official or team staff member had tested positive for the virus since the 10 teams entered the tournament bubble Aug. 10, the International Ice Hockey Federation said Friday in statement.
Finland is minus star goaltender Noora Räty, whose combined 93 saves in the 2019 semifinal and final earned her the award for the tournament’s top goaltender.
Räty didn’t join the Finnish team this summer because she couldn’t financially afford to leave her Minnesota goaltending school this summer, she told the Finnish media outlet Ilta-Sanomat earlier this month.
Notes: Rosters were expanded to 25 players from 23 for this world championship for extra personnel in the event of injury … Canadian forwards Laura Stacey and Kristin O’Neill and goaltender Kristin Campbell were scratches Friday … Finn defender Jenni Hiirikoski joined Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser and countrywoman Karoliina Rantamaki for participation in the most world championships at 13. At 69 career games, Hiirikoski is one off the record for the most games played.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2021.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press