Four Nations day...three and four? I maintain this is why they should break after round-robin and not in the middle of it. Nevertheless, it’s the fourth day of the tournament and the third day of games, which means the inevitable match-up between the Stars and Stripes and the Maple Leaf and Finland and Sweden duke it out to find out whose luck is worse in this year’s tournament.
The grudge match that is the United States vs. Canada ended with Canada taking first place in round robin. This relegates the USA to second place in round-robin (hey, that sounds familiar). Sweden...well they lost another close one. Finland not only got on the board, THEY ALSO WON!
The Finns finally find a bit of luck
FINLAND! Oh Finland! Whatever bit of luck that was left to grab, they took hold and ran with it. Shutout in the first two games of the tournament, they finally got a puck to find the back of the net. Twice!
It was a scoreless first period, bit chippy, marked by many shots from the Finnish skaters and a few penalties here and there. Try as they might, the Finns could not solve Swedish goaltender Lovisa Berndtsson, despite forcing her to make 20 saves and keeping the Swedes from getting any shots on the net.
Finland got the scoring started nine minutes into the second frame. Vilma Tanskanen fed the puck to Mira Huhta, who found the tape of Petra Nieminen’s stick. Nieminen took that little gift and put it in the back of the net, bringing Finland up 1-0 and giving them their first goal of the entire tournament.
Riikka Valila padded the lead with a goal of her own at 17:57 by getting it past Berndtsson. She had a little up from Susanna Tapani, but a goal is a goal no matter how it’s scored. Finland’s second goal of the tournament, and the game. Sweden managed to get a few shots on net this time around....the only three saves Finnish tender Anni Keisala would have to make in the entire match.
Sweden ruined Keisala’s chances at a shutout early in the third thanks to Julia Ostlund posting an unassisted tally. It cut the lead, but it wasn’t enough. They couldn’t get any shots past Keisala...actually, they couldn’t get any shots off at all with the Finnish defense going to work.
Final buzzer sounds and Finland has its first win of this Four Nations Cup, placing them in third for round-robin play.
Canada breaks a streak, hands America a loss
Now the beloved rivalry. Canada. United States. Both undefeated, both looking to take first place. Canada had a bit of a chip on their shoulder; they lost the last six games they played against the Americans. The United States hadn’t let in a goal all tournament, they were looking to continue that.
The scoring got started early...very early. Off a give-and-go from Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne sent the puck past Geneviéve Lacasse to give the USA an early lead. 27 seconds later, Meghan Agosta decided it would be a good time to break the USA’s shutout streak, taking a feed from Erin Ambrose down low and getting the biscuit to the twine behind Alex Rigsby. As you would expect in a game between Canada and the United States, the rest of the period was filled with penalties.
Amanda Pelkey tried to give the US the lead in the second, but like the first time Canada decided they were going to ruin that, too. This time the culprits were Jessica Campbell, who saw Sarah Davis with the opportunity to beat not one, not two, but three defenders, and passed the puck her way. Tie game.
In the third, chippiness did not prevail much. Mélodie Daoust took a hooking call, and Megan Keller a tripping minor not long after. It’s a call Keller probably wishes she could get back. Canada capitalized on the man advantage while Keller sat in the sin bin. Haley Irwin got up close and personal when she fired her shot past Rigsby, with a little help from Natalie Spooner and Marie-Philip Poulin.
Saturday, it all goes down. Saturday, they play for all the marbles. It’s medal match day. Canada and the United States will face off again, this time to see who takes home gold and who takes home silver this year. Finland and Sweden will battle it out to see who gets the bronze and who goes home without hardware this year. (Yep, we’ve definitely seen this narrative before).