ZLIN, Czech Republic – Sophie Shirley (Saskatoon, Sask./Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL) and Sarah Fillier (Georgetown, Ont./Oakville, PWHL) led the offence with two goals apiece, helping Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team to a 6-2 win over Sweden in semifinal action Friday at the 2017 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.
The Canadians will go in search of their fifth world title when they face off against the United States in the gold medal game on Saturday (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT).
Brooke Hobson (Prince Albert, Sask./Prince Albert, SFMAAAHL) and Maegan Beres (North Vancouver, B.C./North American Hockey Academy, JWHL) had the other goals for Canada, which allowed the Swedes to get within one goal after two periods before scoring three times in the final frame.
After the Canadians killed an early power play, they went to work on the man advantage; the puck was worked around to Hobson, whose slap shot from the point made its way through traffic and past Swedish goaltender Sofia Reideborn for the 1-0 goal at 4:11.
That would be it for scoring in the first period, although the Swedes enjoyed a five-minute man advantage after Canadian forward Amy Potomak (Aldergrove, B.C./Pacific, JWHL) was given a charging major and game misconduct.
Fillier doubled the lead just past the six-minute mark of the second period, rushing into the Swedish zone and beating Reideborn with a quick wrist shot from the left wing, and Shirley added the eventual game-winner just over two minutes later, getting credit after a weird bounce behind the Swedish net found its way in.
But the Swedes chipped away, getting two goals back before the end of 40 minutes.
Josefin Bouveng scored the first, knocking a loose puck past Canadian netminder Édith D’Astous-Moreau (Laval, Que./Nepean, PWHL) after a rebound off the end-boards, and Paula Bergstrom made it a one-goal game at 17:01, beating D’Astous-Moreau with a wrist shot from the blue-line.
Momentum swung back to Canada once the puck dropped to begin the third period, with shots on goal favouring the Canadians 18-3 in the final 20 minutes.
Shirley added insurance at 5:58, tapping in a rebound on a Canadian power play for her second of the game.
Fillier added her second into an empty net with 3:20 to go before Shirley set up Beres to cap the scoring with just 52 seconds remaining, sealing Canada’s third win over Sweden in a span of eight days.
The Canadians have appeared in every gold medal game at U18 women’s worlds, claiming silver five times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016) in addition to their four gold (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014).
“We got off to a slow start but as the game went on we started to get better and get back to our game plan; and once we did that everything kind of fell back into place. [Tomorrow’s game] is a huge rivalry and it’s always the most exciting game to play. Playing for the gold medal is always a huge moment and we will need to stick to our game plan and the process that we have and everything should go as planned.”
– Shirley on Canada’s semifinal play and looking ahead to Saturday’s gold-medal game
“We got away from what makes us successful [tonight], but when it wasn’t working, we did resort back to what makes us successful to get out of that situation. For the players to understand that and remain calm on the ice and on the bench in the situation was important for us.”
– Head coach Troy Ryan (Spryfield, N.S.) on Canada’s semifinal play
“We keep talking about our recipe for success and we saw a sample of that in our game against the United States in the preliminary round. We have to build on that and continue to focus on getting better every game because I think we still have more to give.”
– Ryan on facing the United States in the gold-medal game