Canada completes sweep of FISU World University Games

Kendra Woodland completed a shutout as Canada won its first gold in a decade.

Canada played an undefeated tournament in New York on their way to gold. The U Sports women defeated Japan 5-0 in the finals of the World University Games Saturday night.

Unblemished in the preliminary round, the Canadians were the favourite with gold. They were most tested in their final preliminary game, a 2-1 win over the United States, which knocked the Americans out.

Japan opened their tournament with a huge upset, beating the American team made up of D III players 3-1. They fell only twice – once at the hands of Canada and the other to Czechia. Japan became reacquainted with Czechia in the semi-finals and shut them out in a 3-0 win.

Canada looked confident heading into the final, but Japan was chasing another upset.

The teams stumped each other through 20 minutes of play. The Canadians dominated the pressure and possession, firing 15 shots to Japan’s three. Canada had a lot of effective slot opportunities, but well-positioned defenders and the goalkeeping of Miyuu Masuhara kept them at bay. Masuhara effectively steered on-target shots into the corners behind her net.

It wasn’t until after the halfway point of the period that Japan saw its first shot hit the target. Japanese Olympian Akane Shiga looked threatening as she zipped around the ice, hunting for pucks. Japan’s best first-period looks came on a powerplay last in the period. Defenders Kanami Seki and Shiori Yamashita took hard shots from the circles, but Kendra Woodland absorbed them well.

Fired up to start the second period, both teams flew around the ice. Canada looked determined and was the first to draw blood. Audrey-Anne Veillette lifted a sitting puck over a sprawling Masuhara 76 seconds into the period and was mobbed by cheering teammates.

The momentum was on Canada’s side, but Japan was not deterred. Immediately following the goal, Japan came racing back as Minami Kamada challenged Woodland with a shot.

Maria Dominico continued dominating, scoring her tournament-leading sixth goal and Canada’s second. She beat four players before finishing it with a snipe.

Japan’s luck took a turn for the worst when they took two penalties in quick succession giving Canada nearly two minutes of 5-on-3.

Maggy Burbidge put three shots from the back post. Masuhara was able to stop the first two, but Burbidge’s third whack at a rebound flew into the net. Céline Frappier added a fourth as the second penalty expired, and the game was out of reach. Elizabeth Mura added Canada’s fifth to cap off the game in the third.

The Canada-controlled game ended with a 36-12 spread in shots. Canada won their first gold at the tournament since 2013. A defiant Team Japan won a hard-earned silver.