DMITROV, Russia – Willow Slobodzian (Clavet, Sask./Cornell University, ECAC) scored the game-winner as part of a three-goal second period, helping Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team into the semifinals at the 2018 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship with a 3-1 quarter-final win over the Czech Republic on Wednesday.
The victory sets up a Canada-United States showdown in the semis on Friday (7:30 a.m. ET/4:30 a.m. PT). It is the first time ever that the North American rivals will not meet for gold at U18 women’s worlds.
The Canadians carried the play in the first period, but once again ran into red-hot goaltending; Canada held a 17-3 advantage in shots through 20 minutes, only for Czech netminder Kristyna Blahova to keep the game scoreless after one.
Canada finally broke through early in the second; Lexie Adzija (St. Thomas, Ont./Oakville, PWHL) won a puck battle in the corner and found Courtney Correia (Whitby, Ont./Toronto, PWHL), who beat Blahova from a sharp angle after the goaltender missed a poke check in front.
That started a three-goals-in-nine-minutes spurt that gave the Canadians control for good.
Slobodzian was next at 8:55, ripping a one-timer past Blahova with Canada enjoying a man advantage, before Courtney Kollman (Calgary Alta./Edge School, CSSHL) got her stick on a shot in front, tipping in the 3-0 goal at 15:39 of the middle frame.
The Czechs, who managed just six shots total in the first two periods, ramped up their offence in the third and directed 10 towards Canadian puck-stopper Madelyn McArthur (St. Catharines, Ont./Oakville, PWHL).
They got one back only 16 seconds into the final stanza, capitalizing on a five-on-three when Adela Skrdlova beat McArthur with a quick shot from the face-off dot to the right of the Canadian.
But that would be the lone puck to beat McArthur, who finished with 15 saves.
“We talked a lot about believing, and we know that we can do well in this tournament. Just our work ethic – that’s what we really base what this team is all about. We had talked about all of these systems, but those can’t come together unless we have work ethic. So our main goal is just to outwork the other team. If we keep that work ethic throughout the whole game, we can come out with a win.”
Maggie Connors (St. John’s, N.L./Shattuck-St. Mary’s, USHS) on how the Canadians were able to regroup following Tuesday’s loss to the U.S., and the key to generating success in the semifinal
“The positives I saw today in our game against the Czech Republic are that we battled – we battled really hard, we stuck to our game plan, and we put a lot of pucks on net. I thought we got better today. We’re really looking forward to [playing the semifinal against the U.S.]; we’ll be as prepared as we can be, and we always expect a good game against them. We know they’re a very strong hockey team. We’re certainly going to do our best to show up prepared, show up excited, positive, and play Canadian hockey.”
Team Canada head coach Delaney Collins’ assessment of the team’s performance in the quarter-final, and the anticipation of playing the United States on Friday in the semifinal