In the most exciting game of the women’s ice hockey tournament thus far, Team Canada defeated Team Finland, 3-0, at the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia.
Canadian forward Meghan Agosta-Marciano ended the scoreless play in the third period with a wicked shot from in front of the net that gave her team the lead. With Finland struggling on the power play and offensively in general, the second goal from Jayna Hefford all but sealed the victory.
The third goal from Rebecca Johnston made it clear Team Canada was the better team.
The first period of this matchup featured both teams feeling each other out. As a result of the strong defensive play of Team Finland, the Canadians were unable to find any offensive tempo at even strength or on the power play.
Team Canada also managed to stifle the offensive chances of the Finnish squad, allowing just four shots in the first period, but Team Finland is not known as the offensive powerhouse that the Canadians are.
WBEN NewsRadio Buffalo shares a great photo of Team Canada:
The Canadian team did manage to take 10 shots on goal in the first period, but the best women’s goaltender in the world—Finnish sensation Noora Raty—proved once again why she is as highly regarded as she has become.
The story of the second period once again was Raty standing on her head to stifle the offensive pressure of Team Canada. The Canadians managed 16 shots during the second period, but once again the Finnish goalie was able to turn away each and every one of them.
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Finland's offensive struggles continued into the second period. The team was only able to rack up six more shots, which brought its two-period total to just 10.
While it only looked like a matter of time before Canada would find the back of the net, there is no denying that Raty is the star of the women’s ice hockey tournament thus far with such a stellar performance.
Team Canada head coach Kevin Dineen told The Canadian Press via TheStar.com about forward and emotional leader Hayley Wickenheiser’s performance after Game 1 of group play:
“She’s got ‘It.’ I don’t know what ‘It’ is, but whatever makes someone extremely successful in their chosen field, she’s got. She’s just the real deal.”
TSN’s Chris Cuthbert talks about the grinding pace of this game:
IOC officials demanding more competitive balance in women's hockey must like this Canada Finland game a lot more than Kevin Dineen— Chris Cuthbert (@CCtsn) February 10, 2014
While Finland was able to hold off the offensive onslaught of the Canadians throughout most of the game, back-to-back penalties in the third period finally gave Team Canada the openings it needed and the game was blown wide open.
With Finland wearing down and the team unable to gain any kind of offensive pressure, it became very clear that Team Canada was the better team, despite the elite play of Raty. Three goals in the latter stages of the game can break even the most confident team.
As for what's next for Team Canada, the squad will now take on Team USA in one of the most anticipated games of the Olympics thus far. With both units considered gold-medal favorites—the Americans beat Switzerland 9-0 on Monday—the matchup on Wednesday will be must-watch television.
Finland finishes the group round with a battle against Team Switzerland. The Swiss were destroyed by Team USA, and with the Finnish losing by only two goals against the same team, Finland hopes to snag the victory. It will need another strong showing from Raty paired with some sparked offense to get the job done.
*All stats and scoring information via NBCOlympics.com.