Team USA rolled past Finland by a final score of 7-1 late Friday night to win their semifinal match-up at the Women’s World U18s. A trio of goals by the US in the first half of the first period eliminated whatever slim hopes Finland might have had at pulling off the monstrous upset.
The win guarantees at least a silver medal for the United States, extending their streak of winning at least a silver medal at the event to all 12 years the tournament has been played. But moreso, it’s another step on the road towards the ultimate goal of an unprecedented fifth straight gold medal at the event.
Notes and Thoughts:
Games like this, where one team is heavily favored tend to go one of two ways. Either the favored team comes out strong, builds an early lead and cruises to victory. Or the underdog hangs around long enough to build some confidence and it’s a tight game through out. Team USA took the throat-stomping rout tonight.
I wrote in the preview that playing in the lower division, Finland had yet to face a team with the type of speed that the United States possesses. That was readily apparent as the US built a 3-0 lead in the first 8:09 of the game. I’m not sure Finland had a shot on goal at that point. The first three goals came thusly:
-Katy Knoll closing a gap really quickly on a forecheck and forcing a turnover
-Hannah Bilka taking a pass with a full head of steam in the neutral zone and walking through the middle of the Finland defense
-An Abbey Murphy-Casey O’Brien-Makenna Webster 3-on-1 that started off a turnover in the US defensive zone.
Finland, to their credit, turned it around a bit after that, though score effects likely deserve a huge assist. Even still, they ran out of gas a bit in the third period and gave up another three goals to make the score lopsided. Unfortunately, the US couldn’t hang on for a shutout for Skylar Vetter, allowing a goal with just under five minutes left in the game.
The US did what they needed to do to get through this game. That they did so with a minimal amount of stress, and with the ability to get a lot of ice time for some of their lesser-used players is an added bonus.