Saturday, September 3
United States 10, Czechia 1
The United States will compete in the IIHF Women's World Championships gold medal game for the 21st consecutive year after a decisive victory over a tough Czechia squad. Taylor Heise led the team with five points (2-3), while Amanda Kessel recorded a hat trick and added an assist.
Czechia did a good job of staying in the game early, attempting shots and trying to keep the US contained. Unfortunately for them, once the US started scoring, the floodgates opened and there was no stopping them. Heise opened the scoring at 7:53 with a great shot from the high slot following a big pass from Alex Carpenter.
On the very next play, Czechia had a phenomenal opportunity on a 2-on-1 after a turnover, but Megan Keller got in the way and broke it up before they could get a shot off. Building off this momentum, the US doubled their lead on a goal by Hayley Scamurra. Jesse Compher battled for possession behind the net, then got the puck to Grace Zumwinkle, who found Scamurra in front.
Kessel opened her campaign with the next goal, getting Klara Peslarova moving and squeezing the puck between her skate and the post. Hilary Knight then redirected a shot on the power play from in front to make it 4-0. Before the first period was over, Knight and Compher would score to make it a six-goal lead. Czechia nearly scored and did find the back of the net, but a Swiss player was pushed into Nicole Hensley (by Lee Stecklein) and it was ruled no goal.
Blanka Skodova came in to relieve Peslarova for the second period, a logical move at that point to save Peslarova's energy for Sunday's bronze medal game.
Nearly seven minutes in, Kessel scored her second of the game off a clean backhand pass from Abby Roque in front. Czechia then found the scoresheet when Klara Hymlarova pushed the puck in just past the midway point of the game. Just 14 seconds later, howveer, Kessel completed the hat trick.
Caroline Harvey scored in the final half of the third period off a quick shot from the slot, thanks to great pressure by Scamurra behind the net to strip a Czechia player of the puck. Heise then added her second of the game on a far-side shot to make it a 10-1 final. Final shots on goal were 39-10.
Heise has 18 points (7-11) in six games so far in the tournament. Kessel isn't far behind her, with 16 points (6-10).
Canada 8, Switzerland 1
Much like in the US game, once Canada broke the seal and starting scoring, it was hard to stop them. Switzerland certainly put up a fight, but ultimately couldn't contain the offense, which saw 12 different players register at least one point. Marie-Philip Poulin led all skaters with three points (2-1); Sarah Filler (1-2) also had three points, leading the defending goal medalists to Sunday's game.
It took 13:37 for Canada to open the scoring, though they were clearly outplaying their opponent from the get-go. Kristen O'Neill opened the scoring, tipping a shot from Ella Shelton from the outside of the circle to goaltender Saskia Maurer's left. On the very next play, Emma Maltais fed Jessie Eldridge in front ofr the far-side tally. Only ten seconds elapsed between goals.
Brianne Jenner and Fillier added goals in the second period for Canada. Jenner's goal came on the backhand, while Fillier capitalized on a loose puck after great puck protection from Emily Clark.
Switzerland scored their lone goal on a 5-on-3 power play, as Lara Christen took advantage of a wide-open net down low. Christen was later injured and looked wobbly, but stayed in the play. She then left the bench & didn't return.
A four-goal third period was enough to finish it off for Canada. Marie-Philip Poulin scored just 1:17 in, recovering quickly after she was taken down. As a result, she was left uncovered and picked up a feed from Renata Fast. Sarah Nurse and Poulin went on to score with 1:30 of one another, with Nurse's tally coming on the advantage as she shoveled it in the doorstep. Poulin scored from around the crease, a goal that was originally credited to Sarah Potomak.
Emily Clark scored Canada's final goal with under six minutes to play. Maurer had 48 saves on 56 shots faced, while Ann-Renee Desbiens only faced six shots. Canada did a good job of managing its players, as only two players skated over 20 minutes: Erin Ambrose (20:32) and Micah Zandee-Hart (20:57).
Andrea Brändli, who had played in all five Swiss games up until this point, was not dressed for the semifinal. She was present, however, and was named one of Switzerland's best three players for the tournament. (Therefore, her not dressing was clearly not related to COVID protocols.)
Finland beat Hungary 3-2 in overtime. Susanna Tapani had two goals, including the game-winner. Noora Tulus also scored for the Finns. Hungary received goals from Regina Metzler and Alexandra Huszak. Anni Keisala had 16 saves, while Aniko Nemeth had 35 saves.
After being down 3-0, Japan rallied back to beat Sweden 5-4. Sweden took a three-goal lead in the first period on goals from Emma Muren, Olivia Carlsson and Maja Nylen Persson, but Japan had its own three-goal campaign in the second period (Haruka Toko, Yoshino Enomoto, Makoto Ito). Toko broke the tie in the third period before Hanna Olsson made it 4-4. Remi Koyama scored the game-winner with under three minutes to play.
An Indefensible Defense of Hockey Canada on TSN
I'd be remiss if I wrote about today's semifinal games without discussing the blatant and infuriating misinformation that played out during an intermission interview on TSN. Tessa Bonhomme interviewed Andrea Skinner, who is the interim chair of the board of Hockey Canada. The cringe-worthy interview, which lasted about 10 minutes, provided Skinner a largely unchallenged platform by which she defended Hockey Canada's actions amid multiple sexual assault allegations and boasted about her volunteer work with the organization while complaining about media coverage of the scandal.
In the interview, Skinner claimed that some of the criticism of Hockey Canada has been "unfair" and denounced claims that there was a cover-up, saying that they settled with the victim and "did what we thought was in the best interests, and the most sort of respectful... and sensitive way of dealing with the wishes and desires and perspectives of the young woman." (As a reminder, Hockey Canada did not seemingly make any attempt to determine who the players involved in the alleged assault were, and had the victim sign an NDA.)
She failed to adequately address Hockey Canada's use of its national equity fund to pay out the settlements, saying only that she hoped to "correct and move on from the misperceptions around that."
As the interview continued, Skinner expressed regret that people haven't recognized "some of the good work that our board has been doing... the composition of our board and the things that we've done." She boasted that the board is composed of volunteers & contains representatives from different ethnic and cultural communities. In reality, no matter how diverse the board is, or what good work they have done, none of that matters right now and it's an indefensible PR move to push that agenda at this time.
She went on to describe recent media coverage of Hockey Canada's senior staff & board members receiving perks with minimal oversight/transparency as "unfair to the current board and maybe counterproductive to the positive message we're trying to convey to people." (As you're well aware if you read VP or any other legitimate media outlet, media coverage is not and should not be free PR. It should be honest and truthful, and expose the good as well as the bad, without fluff.)
Skinner finished off her interview by boasting about her 'hundreds of hours' spent volunteering for Hockey Canada and described how little she has gotten out of it, mentioning a jersey, a Tim Hortons Barbie doll of Sarah Nurse and some clothes.
Overall, it was a bizarre interview and essentially provided a platform for Skinner and Hockey Canada to put forth a very specific image of themselves, unchallenged. It's not an interview that should have taken place; if TSN wanted to discuss Hockey Canada's issues with an informed party, they should have brought in their own journalist, Rick Westhead, who has covered the story.
(Nicole Haase, also a Victory Press writer, quickly transcribed the interview, which you can read in its entirety here.)
Coming Up Tomorrow (Sunday, September 4):
- Finland vs. Japan, 5:00 AM EST
- Switzerland vs. Czechia (bronze medal game), 9:00 AM EST
- USA vs. Canada (gold medal game), 1:30 PM EST