Sarah Fillier strikes twice, Canada downs Swiss 4-1 in women's world hockey

·5 min read

HERNING, Denmark — Sarah Fillier thought about it for an instant, but made her Plan B work instead.

Canada's youngest player at the women's world hockey championship scored twice in Saturday's 4-1 win over Switzerland in Herning's Kvik Hockey Arena.

The 22-year-old from Georgetown, Ont., spotted Canada a 2-0 lead by the second period, but there was a tantalizing moment in the seconds before her first goal of the game.

Behind Switzerland's net, Fillier briefly contemplated lifting the puck on the blade of her stick and attempting a wraparound lacrosse-style goal in a move known as "The Michigan" because it was first executed by Wolverine Mike Legg in 1996.

"It definitely crossed my mind," Fillier said following the game. "I was just going to see if the (puck) was going to hop up on my stick nice and quick, but that didn't happen."

She instead skated the puck out and scored from the high slot to finish a give-and-go with defender Ella Shelton.

"By the time I got to the far post, I just was like 'I'll just make a play to Ella. She's wide open up top' and she hit me back," Fillier said. "I just got a lucky bounce off a couple shin pads and a back, so it's nice to get some puck luck early in the game."

Blayre Turnbull scored and had an assist and Emily Clark also scored for Canada tied atop Pool B with the United States at two wins apiece. Ann-Renée Desbiens stopped seven shots in Canada's net.

Swiss counterpart Andrea Braendli, who also tends Ohio State's goal, turned away 42 shots in the loss. Alina Marti scored Switzerland's first ever goal against Canada in a women's world championship in the third period.

Braendli's heroics helped the Swiss hold Canada to their closest score since the latter beat them 3-1 in the 2014 Olympic semifinal.

But despite six power-play chances, and relentless cowbell ringing from their vocal fan contingent, the Swiss mustered just eight shots on Desbiens. Canada is 16-0 all-time versus Switzerland.

"It's always great playing against the best players in the world," Swiss forward Alina Mueller said. "We battled together and then in the second period they showed us how they can play hockey."

Finland's Anni Keisala also put on a goaltending showcase Saturday with 66 saves, but the U.S. prevailed 6-1. A win and a loss ranked Switzerland ahead of the winless Finns in the pool.

Sweden edged Germany 4-3 in a shootout and Czechia downed the host Danes 5-1 in Pool B in Frederikshavn.

Canada had less than 24 hours to recover for Sunday afternoon's game against winless Japan. The defending champions cap the preliminary round Tuesday against the U.S.

Switzerland's best world championship result was a bronze medal in 2012, followed two years later by an Olympic bronze medal in Sochi, Russia.

After Marti's goal at 12:32 of the third period, the Swiss argued they'd scored a power-play goal with five minutes remaining, but officials didn't agree citing the play whistled dead.

Turnbull put an exclamation point on Canada's victory driving in from the neutral zone and wiring a wrist shot under Braendli with just under two minutes to go in the game.

"It was a timely goal for us just in the sense we were killing a lot of penalties late in the third and they did score a goal, so we really didn't want to give them much life after that," Turnbull said.

Fillier scored eight goals and had three assists in her Olympic debut in Beijing in February. She scored three and assisted on three in seven games in her world championship debut a year ago in Calgary.

"I don't even look at her as a young player any more because we rely on her so much and she's pretty composed with the way she plays and the way she carries herself," Canadian head coach Troy Ryan said.

If Fillier wants to attempt a highlight-reel goal, she has the green light from her coach.

"If she scores goals, I don't care how she finds a way to do it," Ryan said. "She's someone that can do that in practice, so it wouldn't surprise me if she does it in a game some time."

Ryan was less pleased with the amount of time Canada spent short-handed in its first two games of the tournament, and also his team's offensive-zone play between the faceoff dots against the Swiss.

"I'm actually someone who doesn't mind when we take a lot of penalties when we take the right type of penalties," the coach said. "I don't think tonight and so far in this event, the penalties were the right types.

'I think we fell a little bit into what (Switzerland's) game plan would have been more than what we wanted our game plan to be. They wanted to clog up the middle of the ice and protect between the dots and we just kind of made it a little like a circus outside the dots.

"A lot of puck possession, but not a lot of finding ways to get inside the dots where goals are scored."

Switzerland went 0-for-6 overall with an extra player. Canada's power play was 0-for-2.

"We don't want to be short-handed," Canadian forward Jamie Lee Rattray said. "I think we've got to do a better job too of drawing more penalties.

"We want to make sure we get our power play out there. You look at who is on our power play and it's pretty fun to watch them rip the puck around."

Fillier scored her second of the game with a quick release from close range in the second period. Clark gave Canada a 3-0 lead just 32 seconds later when she dropped to her knee and rifled a shot by Braendli.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2022.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press