WOMEN’S WORLDS PREVIEW: CANADA VS. SWITZERLAND
TV-LINK>>Switzerland vs. Canada Hockey Live
Right back to action at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship, Canada’s National Women’s Team takes on SWITZERLAND in its second preliminary-round game Sunday night, looking to build on its tournament-opening win.
What: Women’s hockey semifinal, Canada vs. Switzerland
Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome
When: Monday, Feb. 17
TV Time: Noon ET (5 p.m. GMT)
For those who maybe haven’t followed along, SWITZERLAND is the team representing Russia, which is not allowed to use its name or flag as per sanctions levied as a result of a years-long doping scandal.
Canada started Group A play with a nervy 5-3 win over Finland on Friday night. Down 2-0 less than seven minutes in, the Canadians got goals from Jamie Lee Rattray and Marie-Philip Poulin 20 seconds apart late in the second period to get even, and got the winner from Sarah Fillier in the third to earn the three points. Canada dominated on the shot clock, finishing with a 44-11 edge – including 36-5 over the final 40 minutes.
Switzerland, however, took an odd route to get to the semifinals. After being dominated in their opener by Canada and losing their final two group games, they still got into the quarterfinals, where they beat Russia to get here.
The teams faced off for bronze at the 2019 women’s worlds, with Canada bouncing back from its shock semifinal loss to the Finns to score a comfortable 7-0 win. Loren Gabel scored twice, Erin Ambrose and Jamie Lee Rattray added a goal and an assist apiece and Geneviève Lacasse made six saves for the Canadians, who held Russia shotless in the second period – the third time in the tournament (and second against the Russians) it had not allowed a shot in a period.
WHAT TO WATCH
The Canadians have had to play catch up in both games in Calgary; they allowed an early goal to Finland in a 4-1 pre-tournament win, and spotted the Finns a quick two-goal advantage in their opener (see above). Both games ended with the Canadians on top, but better starts will be crucial as the tournament goes on.
Major milestones are within reach for a couple of Canadian veterans; Natalie Spooner needs four points to become the 14th player to reach 100 points with Canada’s National Women’s Team, while Marie-Philip Poulin is eight away from becoming just the seventh member of the 150-point club.
It is a quick turnaround for the Russians, who will return to the ice less than 22 hours after their win over Switzerland ended. How will their bodies bounce back against a rested Canadian team, which didn’t practice Saturday?
A LOOK BACK
From their first meeting at 1997 IIHF World Women’s Championship, the Canadians have dominated the head-to-head history, winning all 24 games and outscoring the Russians 195-14. Canada has never allowed more than one goal in a game, and has given up only two in the last seven.
Including in those 24 meetings are 11 at women’s worlds; Hayley Wickenheiser posted a career-high six points (two goals, four assists) in a 12-1 preliminary-round win in 2012, and Poulin potted a pair as part of a five-goal second period in an 8-1 semifinal victory a year later.