February 15th in PyeongChang was the sixth day of women’s hockey at the 2018 Olympics. This also happened to be the final day of preliminary round play, which would determine the Group A seeding for the play-offs, though it had already been determined that the US and Canada would get the auto byes into the semifinals. Still, these two titans had a date on the ice together at 9:10 PM CT on the 14th our time and then Finland played the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) at 1:40 AM CT on the 15th.
US v Canada
As the game wasn’t a do or die win for either team to remain in medal contention, the US put Maddie Rooney in goal, while Canada went with Genevieve Lacasse. Early in the first Hilary Knight had a great breakaway after a poorly timed line change for Canada, however her shot hit Lacasse’s central mass. Brigette Lacquette crashed into the net, knocking it off its moorings as she tried to stop Knight. When there was a mess in the US crease a fight nearly broke out with Monique Lamoureux-Morando in the center. Meghan Agosta took an illegal hit penalty at 9:31 and on the resulting power play the US had some good chances, including Hannah Brandt nearly jamming the puck past Lacasse’s stick side.
It looked like Canada had scored at 16:45 while there were half a dozen prone bodies in Rooney’s crease, but the goal was immediately waved off, as there had already been a whistle due to a crease violation by Marie-Philip Poulin. Lee Stecklein took an interference penalty for putting her shoulder into Laura Stacey. Canada had a lot of chances on the power play, the best being one Rooney just barely knocked wide of the net, but could not convert. At the start of intermission shots were 14-12 for the US in a scoreless game.
The US continued creating chances second period, but Lacasse seemed to have the same magical ability Shannon Sazabaods has of stopping everything thrown her way. Emily Pfalzer got hurled by Canadian defense when she tried to sneak in toward where Lacasse was hoarding the puck. Then Megan Keller earned an interference penalty at 5:48 for standing her ground when Poulin collided with her and flipped to the ice. Canada was buzzing on the power play and after the puck bounced around the perimeter of the crease Agosta banged it home through Rooney’s armpit at 7:18. Natalie Spooner and Brianne Jenner assisted.
Sarah Nurse flew down the left side and shot from the circle, hitting Rooney’s shoulder, but the puck still went in top shelf at 14:56. Jocelyne Larocque had the lone assist. This pushed the US to a frantic pitch as they desperately tried to catch up and resulted in a mess at the Canadian crease and turned into a penalty shot after Haley Irwin closed her hand on the puck. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson took the penalty shot, but Lacasse denied her the goal. Agosta earned a roughing penalty at 17:00 for hitting Pfalzer’s face. A Brianna Decker blast hit the post and caused a mess in the crease, but the US was still scoreless when the period ended.
The US finally got on the board when Kendall Coyne scored on the flyby 23 seconds into the third period. Then Amanda Pelkey almost tied on the backdoor with a feed from Gigi Marvin, but Lacasse blocked it in the nick of time. The puck went from Coyne to Knight to Decker and then a Lacasse leg blocked the shot. Coyne was taken off her skates and then Irwin crashed the net to score, at 10:52 but upon review it was determined the puck made it into goal off a kick and was therefore disallowed.
Knight took a tripping penalty at 12:19, which the US killed. This was followed up with a cross-checking penalty on Decker at 16:07 for colliding with Larocque and soon mitigated into 4-on-4 play when Poulin went for interference at 16:54. Brandt and Meaghan Mikkelson hit the net knocking it off its moorings on a play. Rooney was pulled at 18:56, but the extra skater didn’t make a different. As the final buzzer sounded a fistfight broke out in the Canadian crease, which earned Poulin penalty and Lamoureux-Morando a double minor, both for roughing at 60:00. The US fell to Canada 2-1, despite outshooting them 45-23.
Finland v Olympic Athletes from Russia
Finland was all over the ice in this game and earned a many skaters penalty at 5:11, which Mira Jalosuo served, for being a little too everywhere. However, they killed the penalty and when Lyudmila Belyakova took a roughing penalty at 17:27, Finland converted. Michelle Karvinen netted that first goal with an assist from Jenni Hiirikoski at 17:47.
Liana Ganeyeva took a hooking penalty at 19:38, which carried over into the next period before ending due to a second Karvinen goal 20 seconds into the second. Emma Nuutinen and Riikka Valila assisted. Yekaterina Nikolayeva went for hooking at 24:54 and this time the OAR killed the penalty. In the last minute of the period Valila scored a goal of her own at 19:08 unassisted.
In third period Anna Shokhina broke Noora Räty’s shutout at 4:50 with an assist from Belyakova. Later Diana Kanayeva went to the box due to an illegal hit at 11:05. On the power play Minnamari Tuominen put the puck past OAR goaltender Nadezhda Morozova at 12:49. Hiirikoski and Petra Nieminen assisted before Nieminen went on to score an unassisted goal of her own at 15:33. By the end Finland had overpowered the OAR in both shots, 37-25, and goals, 5-1, which meant gave them the win and the slightly better positioning for the quarterfinals.
There won’t be any games on February 16th in Korea, as all the women’s hockey teams get a rest day before the play-offs ensues. Once play resumes on February 17th in Korea, the OAR plays Switzerland at 9:10 PM CT on February 16th our time. Then Finland hits the ice against Sweden at 1:40 AM CT on February 17th to renew an old grudge match. The winners of these matches will move on to play the US and Canada.