Team Canada shocked by Finland at women’s worlds

In the history of women’s International Ice Hockey Federation championship competition, Team Canada had never lost to a team that wasn’t the United States.

That changed on Saturday night.

Finland joined that exclusive club, as Canada lost its second straight game at worlds, 4-3. The Americans defeated them on Friday night, 2-0, to open the 2017 IIHF women’s world championship tournament in Plymouth, Michigan.

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After rallying to tie the Finns with a Rebecca Johnston goal in the third period, defender Ronja Savolainen scored with 1:41 left in regulation to give Finland a 4-3 lead.

Canada had a power play and a chance to pull its goalie after a slashing penalty by Jenni Hiirikoski with a minute left in the game, but the Canadians finished the game 0-for-6 on the power play after not earning a power play against the Americans.

Making a difference on that penalty kill: Finland goalie Noora Räty, the three-time Olympian and star goalie for the University of Minnesota from 2009-2014. She stopped 35 of 38 shots on Saturday night, including 12 in the third period.

She previously shut out Canada in the gold medal of the 2017 Nations Cup. She defeated Emerance Maschmeyer in that game, and Maschmeyer and Geneviève Lacasse split time in the Canada loss on Saturday night. Maschmeyer was pulled after Finland’s first goal.

Gold medal-winning Shannon Szabados had started against the Americans on Friday night, a game after which Team Canada tweeted:

It’s a stunning loss for Canada, which finishes the preliminary round with a game against Russia (1-1) on April 3. Don’t worry about them advancing. From the IIHF tournament format:

“After a single round-robin series in each group, the four teams from Group A and the best two teams from Group B advance to the Playoff Round, while the third- and fourth-placed team in Group B will play a best-of-three relegation round series.”

Canada is in Group A with the Americans, Finland and Russia.

So that takes the sting off the loss. Now we can all focus on how amazing this is for women’s hockey internationally, in that the two-team stranglehold on IIHF tournaments was briefly broken for one night. Congrats to Finland.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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