Canada blanks Sweden at women’s hockey worlds to set up semifinal date with Swiss

Sarah Potomak had a goal and an assist to lead Canada to a 3-0 win over Sweden in a women’s world hockey championship quarter-final Thursday.

Jocelyne Larocque and Erin Ambrose also scored for the defending champions, who face Switzerland in Saturday’s semifinals.

The medal games are Sunday.

Canadian starter Ann-Renee Desbiens posted a nine-save shutout Thursday.

Emma Soderberg, who tends the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs’ net, was a workhorse with 54 saves for Sweden.

WATCH | Potomak dazzles:

Sarah Potomak scores a beauty as Canada advances to world championship semifinals

Sarah Potomak’s individual effort highlighted Canada’s 3-0 win over Sweden, as they advanced to the IIHF women’s world championship semifinals in Denmark,

Minus captain Lara Stalder and their top scorer Alina Mueller because of COVID-19, the Swiss edged Japan 2-1 in a shootout Thursday.

Czechia, coached by former Canadian defender Carla MacLeod, posted the upset of the tournament so far and reached the semifinals for the first time with a 2-1 overtime win over Finland.

The U.S. had an easier time in their 12-1 quarter-final win over Hungary to face the Czechs on Saturday.

Soderberg stellar in defeat

Canada and Sweden met in a world championship game for the first time since 2009, although the Canadians beat the Swedes 11-0 in an Olympic quarter-final in February.

Soderberg lasted two periods of the quarterfinal in Beijing, but she gobbled up the puck Thursday.

Sweden, the 2006 Olympic silver medallist, was relegated in the 2019 world championship.

The national team then boycotted international competition in protest over compensation and other competitive issues. The dispute was resolved later that year.

The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated second-tier world championships for Sweden to gain promotion, but the world No. 8 replaced Russia in this year’s 10-country tournament.

The International Ice Hockey Federation has barred Russia from tournaments because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Canada generated sustained pressure in Sweden’s end for long stretches of the first and second periods, but Soderberg helped limit the Canadians to a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes.

Ambrose threaded a shot from the point over Soderberg’s shoulder at 13:10 of the third period.

Three power-play chances in the first 10 minutes of the second didn’t yield a goal for Canada, which went 0-for-8 overall, but Potomak scored with a highlight-reel even-strength effort.

She scraped the puck off the neutral-zone boards, sliced by Swedish defender Maja Persson Nylen going backhand to forehand to solve Soderberg at 13:56 of the second period.

Larocque scored her first world championship goal in the veteran defender’s 10th tournament.

Outshot 14-1 in the first period, the Swedes held Canada scoreless until 17:11 when Renata Fast, below the goal-line, fed Larocque out front for a successful wrist shot top shelf.

Canadian head coach Troy Ryan continued juggling his forward lines from the previous day’s practice, most notably shifting Victoria Bach into a trio with Marie-Philip Poulin and Brianne Jenner, and Sarah Nurse getting ice time with Sarah Fillier and Emily Clark.

Knight enters record books

U.S. forward Hilary Knight set a record for all-time career points in the women’s world hockey championship Thursday, and she’s not done adding to it.

Knight’s goal and assist in a 12-1 quarter-final win over Hungary gave her 87 points to surpass Canadian forward Hayley Wickenheiser’s previous mark of 86.

“I understand how big an accolade it is, so all I can say is it’s really an honour,” Knight said.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention I play with the best players in the world night in and night out when we suit up for the U.S. team. To be able to play with other individuals, and the creativity and competitiveness, it keeps you going.”

The 33-year-old from Sun Valley, Idaho, added to her all-time tournament goal-scoring record with her career 51st.

Knight broke that record previously held by former U.S. captain Cammi Granato (44) during last year’s world championship in Calgary.

After what appeared to be a record-clinching second assist of the second period, Knight was mobbed by her teammates near the U.S. bench in celebration.

Scorers eventually assigned one of her assists to a teammate later in the game, but Knight’s goal early in the third period ensured the record was hers.

Knight was presented with a plaque and a commemorative jersey post-game.

A tribute video was also shown on the arena’s video screen at centre ice.

“What Hilary Knight means on and off the ice for the game of hockey is indescribable. This milestone is just another part of that,” U.S. captain Kendall Coyne Schofield said.

“You want to talk about the number. The one thing you don’t see is the consistency of work that Hilary Knight puts in day in and day out away from this tournament on her own, just the grind.

“There’s a reason she’s able to do what she’s doing at this age and this level in her 12th tournament. I know there’s a lot of hockey left in number 21.”

Knight’s family on hand to witness record

Knight’s parents and brother in Herning, Denmark, to witness her history-making game meant a lot to Knight because the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented them from attending what little competition there was over the last two years.

“We haven’t had family at tournaments for a really long time,” Knight said.

“You kind of take it for granted that your family’s always going to be there. To have an experience where they’re not such as the Olympics and the world championships before, this one meant more just because they were there.”

She’s won seven world championships and an Olympic gold medal in 2018 during her 16-year career with the U.S. women.

Hilary Knight of the United States (21) in action during a 12-1 quarter-final win over Hungary in Denmark on Thursday, where she broke the record for most all-time points in women’s worlds history. (Bo Amstrup, Ritzau Scanpix/The Associated Press)

Knight has four goals and three assists in five games for unbeaten U.S. heading into Saturday’s semifinals.

“We’re mid-tournament right, so you have to focus on that,” Knight said. “At the end of the day, we want to win another world championship.”

In good company

She passed two Hockey Hall of Famers on the all-time points list during the tournament as Canada’s Jayna Hefford ranked second with 83.

Wickenheiser appeared in 13 world championship and Hefford in 12.

“They’re tremendous for the sport. Pioneers,” Knight said.

“I remember vividly Wickenheiser hopping over our blue-line and just sniping top shelf in one of the tournaments and thinking ‘who is that? I want to be just like that,’ but the American version, right?”

Knight counts her overtime goal to win the 2017 world championship in Plymouth, Mich., among her career highlights.

The host team had threatened to boycott its own tournament in an effort to gain more financial and competitive support from USA Hockey.

The Americans succeeded in that and then beat Canada 3-2 in the final on Knight’s OT winner.

“Just what we accomplished off ice, on ice, it was sort of that Disney book ending to it to the tournament,” Knight said.

“That was a special one. Blocking a shot, kicking it to Kendall, Kendall driving and creating space for me. I could fill in that nice pocket and to beat a great goaltender, that always feels good.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.