USA 8, Finland 1
It was the Maggie Scannell show as the Badger recruit seemed to take control from the time the puck dropped til the final whistle. She's as poised as anyone on the ice, using her size to protect the puck and surprising defenders with her speed. Team USA had a 2-0 lead after the first and the official stats say Finland did not tally a first-period shot, but it wasn't quite that lopsided.
USA's team speed overall is some of the best you’ll see at this level and they are able to harness and use that to their advantage in a number of ways. Scannell was able to create separation on transition in just a few strides. The team was able to keep up a tough forecheck that left little room for Finland error and made it difficult for them to even get clean changes.
Gabby Kim, Joy Dunne, Sam Taber, Cassie Hall, and FInley McCarthy all also scored for the US in the win. While Scannell was the standout, the whole team adjusted well from Sunday's game. There's still some work to be done to clean up their game, but the penalties on Monday were more physical than stick infractions and coach Katie Lachapelle was less concerned about those.
What We Learned:
- Finland is struggling to build from the back or set up their offense. Obviously that’s extra tough against the US and Canada, but I don’t foresee it getting any better against Sweden from what we’ve seen of them.
- USA F Maggie Scannell – Three goals and two assists on six shots, tied for team best faceoff percentage and atop the tournament leaderboard with seven total points (4g, 3a). She was simply dominant in all areas of the ice and she’s just feeling it. Pucks were bouncing her way and she just always seemed to have the puck at her feet. The goal must feel twice its size for her right now.
- Finland F Sanni Vanhanen – I named her yesterday, but she was so much ahead of her teammates in this game that I couldn’t even come close to choosing someone else. She was the catalyst for so much, from faceoffs to shots to breakouts and blocking shots.
"We knew tomorrow is an off day, so we knew we could leave it all out there." – US captain Joy Dunne
"I loved that it was a dirty goal and that Maggie set me up for it. There's no other way I would have wanted it to go in." – Dunne on her goal
"I felt like at times we weren't staying in our structure. The ladies answered back and made sure in the third period they were playing a lot better." – US head coach Katie Lachapelle
Canada 4, Sweden 2
In a game riddled with penalties – 20 total with six for Sweden and 14 for Canada – neither team was able to execute their plan the way they'd hoped heading into the match. Both squads' special teams units got a workout and found success, though Sweden was only able to capitalize once on the advantage, despite multiple 5-on-3 spells.
Despite the stops and starts with all the penalties, it was an exciting, back and forth game. Sweden controlled the second period on Monday and were clawing for an equalizer after a controversial third goal by Canada. There appeared to be goalie interference on the play, but after a lengthy review, the ref concluded it was a good goal.
It happened in the first four minutes of the third, leaving Sweden plenty of time to even it up, but the goal served to give Canada the energy they needed to close out the game, including killing nearly a minute of 5-on-3 in waning moments of regulation.
This was the first time in U18 Women's World Championship history that Canada was outshot by an opponent not named "United States."
What We Learned:
- Sweden on the rise – I was impressed with the Swedes after Sunday's game with the US, so this just upped my admiration for what the program has accomplished. I liked individual players in Madison, but wasn't sold on the team being able to make the jump to the medal platform. That has fully changed at this tournament. The team is cohesive, talented, and looks dangerous. The Federation is saying the right things about development and focus on growing the women's game and hopefully seeing how it is paying off at this tournament they're hosting and broadcasting across the country reinforces what happens when they invest.
- Whole team here – It's clear that the players on the bench are as important to Canada’s success as those on the ice. In a chaotic game where each second feels life or death, keeping an even keel is crucial to success. Teams always talk about not too high, not too low, and Canada's bench was loud, supportive and pivotal in maintaining the middle ground of energy and support throughout Monday's game. It feels like an interesting view of what team chemistry can mean beyond tape to tape passes. There's room for a lot of emotion here, but Canadian players and coaches talked about how much the bench drives the overall tenor of their game.
- Sweden G Felicia Frank – There was a lethal casualness to the absolute stellar performance she put on. She faced a number of breakaways with ease, dealt with screens from the Canada defense and covered up pucks in a number of dangerous situations. She had great positioning and was just so focused and on her game. There's ice in her veins and watching her so coolly and confidently handle the Canadians was a delight. I can't wait to see more from her.
- Canada F Caitlin Kraemer – She led the team in shots, including four in the third period and has been an offensive spark. She's moving the puck well, not afraid to fight against the boards. Her four goals and five points are second-best through the first two days. On a veteran squad, she's separated herself.
"I think we have to learn to not take as many penalties as we did. We need to just keep fighting and next time it will be our win." – Sweden F Linnea Natt och Dag
"We know that if we do what we do and we do it with confidence and we know we can beat them, then we can." – Natt och Dag
"It was a good game from our side. We work every day to take steps as a team. We see that we are close to the talent on USA and Canada." – Sweden coach Andreas Karlsson
"I don't like to lose, but I'm proud of the team. They competed very hard and did it like a team. They had 60 minutes of hard work today." – Karlsson
"It's super easy to get down on yourself or too high or mad at the refs or throw yourself off your game. Make sure we remain composed. Those TV timeouts are great to continue to remind them." – Canada coach Courtney Birchard-Kessel
"I think it was definitely a different game than we saw last night. I don't think the same team showed up today for us. Did we stick to the game plan? I don’t think so. We have way more in the tank. We have way more to show." – Birchard-Kessel
"We knew they'd come out hard on their home ice, and I think we gave it to them. We battled through it," – Canada F Alex Law
"It was definitely a pretty evenly matched game. It was aggressive on both sides." – Canada captain Emma Pais
Slovakia 4, Switzerland 1
Switzerland had a 1-0 lead after the first, but Slovakia took control from there. Nela Lopušanová's short-handed goal really provided a spark for her team and they settled into their game from there. Possession was back and forth, but the Swiss struggled to do much dangerous with the puck in their end while Slovakia used speed in transition and hard shots to break down the defense. Switzerland has shown flashes of brilliance and a ton of potential, but they haven't been able to turn that into a full performance. Slovakia looks loose and comfortable with themselves. They made their first-ever quarterfinal last tournament and are playing with the ease of a team who don't have anything to prove. Once they found their rhythm, Switzerland looked like they were skating uphill.
With the win, Slovakia ensured they will make their second-straight quarterfinal. They're tied atop the group with Czechia, who they'll meet on Wednesday for seeding and bragging purposes. Both teams have six points, but Slovakia has a one-goal edge in goal differential.
What We Learned:
- Momentum matters – The Slovakia that ended this game looked very different from the Slovakia that started the game. It took them a little more than a period to start looking like themselves and playing the free style of game they showed over the second half of the match. Nela Lopušanová's shorthander seemed to shake them out of it and relit the silly, loose attitude that has served them well.
- Slovakia F Nela Lopušanová – At just 14 years old, she is tied for the tournament lead in points (7) after two days. She had a hat trick and an assist in this game. Her command and vision of the ice are well beyond her years.
- Swiss F Alena Rossel - The second-line forward played nearly half the game and was impactful everywhere on the ice. She seemed determined to will her team to a win.
Czechia 5, Japan 1
Tereza Plosová and Adéla Šapovalivová were two of the standouts of the 2022 tournament, so it was surprising to see them blanked in the first game of the 2023 iteration. It speaks to the depth of the squad that they came from behind for a win, but Czechia is best when their top line is not just producing, but playing well together. On Monday, they scored three of their team's five goals and contributed a total of seven points.
- Today (Tuesday January 10) is an off day for the tournament.
- Tomorrow's schedule will finish up group play and finalize seeding for the playoffs.
January 11 - full schedule
- 6:00 AM - Czechia vs. Slovakia (Group B) (Arena A)
- 10:00 AM - Finland vs. Sweden (Group A) (Arena A)
- 12:00 PM - Switzerland vs. Japan (Group B) (Arena B)
- 2:00 PM - Canada vs. USA (Group A) (Arena A)