We have all seen games that some goalies would really just like to forget. Unfortunately for Nana Fujimoto and Team Japan, their quarterfinal matchup against Team USA was one of those games. Fujimoto didn’t look like herself in the first period after a dazzling performance in the group stage. She allowed five goals in the 20 minutes of the game, which sealed her team’s fate, but the real story of the first was the two goals scored by Japan.
Despite Akane Shiga making history in the first, the U.S. came away with the big victory everyone was expecting from them. They looked all but unstoppable as they punched their ticket to the semifinals.
Team USA’s offense was just relentless. They finished the game with over 60 shots and had 10 goals, not including an eleventh goal that was disallowed for being touched with a high stick by Kendall Coyne Schofield.
The best line in hockey looked like the best line in hockey. More importantly, the Alex Carpenter line got rolling and Grace Zumwinkle continued to make the kinds of plays that should have USA Hockey buzzing about her role on the team for the next decade. Knight, Carpenter, and Zumwinkle all finished the game with two goals. As you might expect, almost everyone was involved in the scoring, but it was Knight and youngster Caroline Harvey who led the way with three-point nights.
“As Hilary said on the bench, ‘Just keep going,’” Alex Carpenter told The Ice Garden after the game. “Even though we scored 10 goals we wanted to keep our foot on the gas and get ready for the next game. That was our focus. Just doing the little things right.”
The other interesting wrinkle from this performance by Team USA is that Nicole Hensley played the last period of the game after Cavallini got the start and gave up two goals to Japan in the first. We’re still waiting to see Aerin Frankel’s debut but don’t be surprised if it Hensley is between the pipes moving forward.
Goals scored by USA: Alex Carpenter (EV), Hilary Knight (EV), Grace Zumwinkle (EV), Alex Carpenter (EV), Megan Keller (EV), Brianna Decker (EV), Caroline Harvey (EV), Grace Zumwinkle (EV), Hilary Knight (EV), Dani Cameranesi (EV)
Even though they trailed 5-2 after the first, the first 20 minutes of the game were undoubtedly the best for Japan. They capitalized on mistakes made by USA and finished on two quality scoring chances. Really, you couldn’t ask for much more from Japan’s skaters. Unfortunately, it was a forgettable performance for the best player on their team — Nana Fujimoto.
Japan’s defensive structure was tested by a bigger, faster, stronger, and more skilled American team. It buckled and broke several times and it felt like the Americans were on the power play for most of the game. The Japanese seemed to rally when Akane Konishi replaced Nana Fujimoto but it was a short-lived change in momentum. Konishi stopped Knight with the very first shot she saw in the game and finished with 17 more. All told, she faced 21 shots in 27:24. Fujimoto stopped 33 of 40 before being given the hook in the second period.
Everyone knew Japan was going to lose this game, including the Japanese. What we didn’t know was that we’d see history and that Konishi would hold her own against the U.S. after entering the game in relief of Fujimoto. If that isn’t a silver lining to embrace in a 10-2 loss, I don’t know what is.
Goals scored by Japan: Akane Shiga (EV), Akane Shiga (EV)
TIG’s Players of the Game
These are not the same as the IIHF’s Players of the Game. This honor is based on performance and also vibes.
Japan: Akane Shiga
USA: Grace Zumwinkle