Hosts take care of Russians
Record crowd watches 5-2 victory
The North Americans are tied in top spot of Group A with three points each, their meeting Monday looking like the deciding factor for first place.
Tonight’s victory was played before a record crowd of 3,564, tops for a WW18 game in the event's nine-year history. The previous mark was set in the Finland-France opener this afternoon (3,521), and both games bested the previous mark of 3,250 set at Zimni Stadion in Prerov, Czech Republic on January 6, 2012.
"We were really energized before the game, and we got our nerves out early," said forward Kristin O'Neill, who was flying all night long.
As with two of the three previous games today, the winning side started off to a 2-0 lead after the first period. Tonight, Canada scored two goals midway through the opening frame to create its lead.
Olivia Knowles set up the first goal on a two-on-one, making a perfect pass to the slot that was deftly re-directed by Sophie Shirley at 10:27. Less than three minutes later, O’Neill, one of only three returnees for Canada, got the puck in front from behind the Russian goal, and Ashton Bell snapped it in before goalie Valeria Tarakanova knew where the puck was.
"I had it behind the net, and there were a lot of screens in front," O'Neill described. "I just popped it out and Bell put it in."
The second period was a busy one, and not just to the Canadians’ advantage. Indeed, Russian captain Fanuza Kadirova, now in her third WW18 tournament, was the best player on the ice in the middle 20 minutes. She beat Jaime Bourbonnais to a loose puck and tucked the puck in the far side of Stephanie Neatby’s goal to make it a 2-1 game at 3:21.
Canada reclaimed its two-goal lead on a power play when a pass from the side of the goal by Ryleigh Houston went off a skate and in. Emma Maltais made it 4-1 at 9:14 with a great shot off a turnover.
"We played well the first ten minutes of the game, but then we allowed two goals and stopped playing the way we wanted to," Kadirova said. "We have to learn from that and not do the same thing tomorrow. We have to play good defence first."
Kadirova, though, drew two penalties with her speed and deft stickhandling, and seconds after the expiration of the second advantage Yelizaveta Zenchenko jammed home a loose puck to make it 5-2.
Canada was full measure for its goals, but it was by no means perfect in its own end. The final tally showed Canada with only 20 shots while allowing 18 from the Russians, a margin perhaps not fair to the territorial advantage Canada enjoyed, but also indicative that this was no romp, either.
Canada plays the Czechs tomorrow night while the Russians hook up with the Americans earlier in the day.