ESPOO, Finland — Canada backing off its blue-collar brand of hockey opened the door for Finland’s women to make history Saturday.
Finland will play in a gold-medal game and Canada won’t for the first time at a women’s world hockey championship because of the host country’s inspired 4-2 semifinal win in Espoo’s Metro Areena.
Espoo 2019 semi-finals: Canada falls to Finland at the World Championships
The United States — an 8-0 winner over Russia in the other semifinal — will chase a fifth straight world title against a team working for a storybook ending to its tournament.
The U.S. and Canada had met in the final of all 18 previous championships dating back to the first in 1990.
The Finns upending the established world order atop the women’s hockey heap will be seen by some as good for the female game.
"It’s hard to have that perspective as a player in the game," captain Brianne Jenner said. "Right now it just feels like a loss for Team Canada, which we never like to have at the world championships.
It was the biggest upset among the top countries in women’s hockey since Sweden beat the U.S. in the 2006 Olympic semifinal en route to a silver medal.
"It’s unreal and on top of that, to do it here on home ice, we’ve been working so hard for so many years now," assistant captain Michelle Karvinen said. "It’s not just one good game. It’s something we actually have earned.
"This is what needed to happen. I think it will open up a lot of the mindsets of women’s hockey that there’s more than two teams."
Finland’s power play produced its first two goals. Canada’s went 0 for 4, including almost two minutes of five-on-three early in the second period.
Accustomed to spending a lot of time in their own zone in games against Canada over the years, the Finns knew how to defend a 3-2 lead after two periods.
Chasing a team they’d beaten 6-1 in the group stage, the Canadians didn’t block shots on the penalty kill. Shooters didn’t find lanes when teammates battled for position in front of Raty.
"I would say there was a little bit of panic when they got ahead of us," Canadian defender Jocelyne Larocque said. "We weren’t expecting it. We didn’t respond in the way that we should have.
The highest-scoring player on the Canadian roster reinjured her knee Monday attempting a return. The loss of Turnbull further weakened Canadas attack Saturday.
Finland’s Ronja Savolainen scored twice, including an empty-net goal, and had an assist in front of an announced 4,311.
More from Sportsnet Captains change, but goal stays same for Canada in womens world hockey Canadian Press Canadian women hone blue-collar identity in quarters win vs. Germany Canadian Press Jamie Lee Rattray and Loren Gabel countered for Canada in the unfamiliar position of playing Russia for bronze Sunday.
"You look at what you’re going to take from losing in a semifinal at the world championships, it’s finding out about your character," said Canadian head coach Perry Pearn. "The character in the room will really be revealed.
"We’ll find out who has it and who doesn’t. I’m learning about different players and learning who I can count on and who I can’t. Some of that got revealed to me today."
After losing to the Finns for the first time in a preliminary-round game at the 2017 world championship, Canada then went 7-0 against them winning by at least three goals in every game until Saturday.
Savolainen eluded a penalty in the first period when she pushed Canadian forward Blayre Turnbull head first into the corner boards in the first period.
Turnbull, who Pearn calls "the conscience of the team," left the ice with assistance and did not return to the game.
"To me, what happened there is I think embarrassing for women’s hockey because checking from behind at every level is not acceptable," Pearn said. "If that was one of our players on a Finn, I would want it called.
"There’s a potential for someone to break a neck and for a veteran official like the group like we had, for them not to make that call is really wrong."
Finlands Ronja Savolainen scored twice, including an empty-net goal, and had an assist in front of an announced 4,311.
Canadian players twice threw their arms in the air during third-period scrambles in front of Finland’s net celebrating what they thought was an equalizing goal.
The second instance was quickly waived off and the first no-goal call was upheld after a lengthy review.
Canada was minus captain Marie-Philip Poulin for all but part of one period at the world championship.
The highest-scoring player on the Canadian roster reinjured her knee Monday attempting a return. The loss of Turnbull further weakened Canada’s attack Saturday.
"We definitely missed both of them immensely, but at the end of the day, we still needed to be able to come together as a team and find a way to win and we just didn’t do that.’
Canada won't play for gold at the women's world hockey championship for the first time in tournament history.
Another good shot from Bellamy at the right hash marks—the Russian penalty killers might want to consider, uh, covering her there—but Merkusheva makes the save. She also makes a good save on a point-blank Decker shot when someone left Brianna goddamn Decker all alone in front, which is a quality tactic if your goal is to lose a hockey game.
"It's unreal and on top of that, to do it here on home ice, we've been working so hard for so many years now," assistant captain Michelle Karvinen said. "It's not just one good game.
The U.S. and Canada had met in the final of all 18 previous world championship finals dating back to the first in 1990.
Canada takes a high sticking penalty and Emily Clark is sent off. They start the kill off well, Saulnier and Larocque bringing the puck into the Finnish zone. Time is wasted via a couple of board battles. Tapani tries a point shot. Another Finnish shot leads to another brief shorthanded entry by Canada.
Canada beat Finland 6-1 to cap the group stage of this year's tournament Tuesday. But the Finns had better special teams and goaltending Saturday.
In her 200th career game for Finland, goalie Noora Raty made 43 saves for the win before an announced gathering of 4,311 in her hometown.
That triggers a goalie change for Russia. Prugova comes out, Valeria Merkusheva goes in. Its odd to me that the Russians didnt have veteran Nadezhda Morozova on the bench for a semifinal game instead of actual teenager Merkusheva; perhaps there was an injury we dont know about.
Ronja Savolainen scored twice, including an empty-net goal, for Finland. Jenni Hiirikowski had a goal and an assist and Susanna Tapani also scored.
Right now it just feels like a loss for Team Canada, which we never like to have at the world championships.— Canada forward Brianne Jenner after Saturday's 4-2 semifinal defeat to FinlandJamie Lee Rattray and Loren Gabel countered for the Canadians, who trailed 3-2 after the second. Shannon Szabados stopped 15 shots in her first loss against the Finns in 18 starts.
Megan Bozeks slapshot is a terrifying weapon, and she hammers one from the point not long after the penalty elapses. It looks like it just goes through Prugova, no tip or anything. The pass from Knight while on her knees along the boards was a great setup play. 4-0 Team USA.
Finland's disruption of the established world order atop women's hockey will be viewed by some a good for the female game. But it was difficult for Canada to feel any positives in its loss.
Only about fifteen seconds into the player advantage, Maria Batalova dumps an American along the boards in a reckless cross-check (this is very in character for Batalova, who takes a lot of unnecessary penalties, even for a Team Russia player) and now Team USA has a 5 on 3.
"It's hard to have that perspective as a player in the game," captain Brianne Jenner said. "Right now it just feels like a loss for Team Canada, which we never like to have at the world championships.
"We're pretty disappointed with that outcome. We'll give credit to Finland for a game well played."
Hilary Knight takes a pass from the neutral zone and charges in, utterly disregarding the defensive efforts of Liana Ganeyeva, and hits the trailing defender, Emily Pfalzer, with a perfectly placed pass. Pfalzer leans into it and blasts it past Prugova. 3-0 Team USA.
Canada was without captain Marie-Philip Poulin for all but part of one period at the world championship. The highest-scoring player on Canada's roster reinjured her knee Monday attempting a return.
The player head coach Perry Pearn called "the conscience of the team," was in a vulnerable position when Savolainen pushed her and Turnbull tumbled head-first into the boards.
No penalty was called. Turnbull stayed down for a minute and left the ice with assistance and didn't return.
This loss was at least half because of Räty but after the first ten minutes of the game Canada struggled to maintain pressure on Finland. Especially with Turnbull out theyre going to have to look at staying disciplined and maintaining structure over Russia.
"To me, what happened there is I think embarrassing for women's hockey because checking from behind at every level is not acceptable," Pearn said. "If that was one of our players on a Finn, I would want it called.
Rod Black makes the assertion that Russia doesnt have the same talent as the Finns. I would say the difference isnt so much talent (except maybe in net and behind the bench) as it is veterans. Less than half this team has been around since 2015 or before.
"There's a potential for someone to break a neck and for a veteran official like the group like we had, for them not to make that call is really wrong."
After losing to the Finns for the first time in a preliminary-round game at the 2017 world championship, Canada went 7-0, beating them by at least three goals in every game until Saturday.
Finland scored its first two goals on the power play and the first three were generated off shots from the point.
Merkusheva makes a save and then in an effort to clear the slot, one of her defenders accidentally almost puts it in when her intended clearing pass hits a teammate and deflects towards the goal, if anyone wants to know how Team Russia is doing right now.
The Finns have spent years defending their own end against Canada, so they knew what to do to protect a lead.
"We've been pretty confident that one day it could happen when we play a perfect game and I have a good game," Raty said. "So we finally scored three on Canada.
"That doesn't happen too often. If you keep believing in yourself, anything can happen."
Canada's special teams had been effective through five games. But going 0-for-4 with a man advantage, including 90-plus seconds of a five-on-three early in the second, put it at a disadvantage.
Canadian players twice threw their arms in the air in celebration of a goal in the third, but were disappointed.
The second time was quickly waived off, but the first no-goal called was upheld after a lengthy review.
Tapani tipped a Nelli Laitinen shot between Szabados's pads at 16:18 of the second to restore Finland's one-goal lead.
Gabel had pulled Canada even at 7:53 on the rush with Jenner and Ann-Sophie Bettez. It was a broken play, but Gabel got enough stick on it to tip the puck past Raty's right toe.
"A big, huge kill for us," Raty said. "If they score there, it could go either way."
The hosts took momentum from that kill into an ensuing man-advantage to lead 2-1 at 6:50 when Hiirikoski scored with a one-timer from the point.
Hiirikoski, at the point, took a drop pass from Noora Tulus and Savolainen tipped the shot by Szabados at 16:23.
Canada struck early with Rattray on Raty's doorstep re-directing a Laura Stacey wrist shot at 2:32.
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