CALGARY — Canada’s first women’s world hockey championship game in over two years was a hard-fought 5-3 win over Finland, and the battle felt like sweet relief for Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin.
Rookie forward Sarah Fillier scored the third-period game-winner and veteran Brianne Jenner sealed the win with an empty-net goal Friday in Calgary.
“To be honest, it’s hard to put into words, just watching the video before the game on the blue-line and when they said the world championship was finally open, to be honest, it gave me shivers,” Poulin said.
Poulin, Erin Ambrose and Jamie Lee Rattray also scored for the host Canadians, who trailed by two goals after the opening period.
Natalie Spooner and Claire Thompson each had two assists. Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped eight shots for the win.
Minnamari Tuominen, Nelli Laitinen and Elisa Holopainen replied for Finland, with Anni Keisala turning away 39 shots in the loss.
The Czech Republic downed Denmark 6-1 in Pool B earlier Friday and the United States blanked Switzerland 3-0 in the evening game as the 10-country women’s championship got underway 859 days after the last one in Espoo, Finland.
The 2020 and 2021 tournaments scheduled for Halifax and Truro, N.S., were both cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns.
When Nova Scotia pulled the plug on the tournament in May, Hockey Canada rescheduled and relocated the tournament to Calgary in summer less than six months out from Beijing’s Winter Olympics in February.
Poulin barely played in Espoo because of a knee injury, so the gap felt even longer for the 30-year-old from Beauceville, Que.
“Bringing back that jersey for an international game was very special today,” Poulin said. “We’ve been waiting for that moment for a long time.”
When Holopainen drew the Finns even at 7:13 of the third period, Fillier scored a go-ahead goal 25 seconds later.
The 21-year-old from Georgetown, Ont., is one of eight players making their world championship debut for Canada in Calgary.
“They’re the types of shifts that we have to win momentum or gain momentum back and usually good players and goal scorers find ways to contribute in those times,” Canadian head coach Troy Ryan said.
“Not only was it a confidence boost builder for her, I thought it was awesome for our team to regain momentum after that tying goal.”
Canada didn’t play in a world championship final for the first time in the history of the tournament in 2019 after a 4-2 loss to Finland in the semifinal.
Canada took the bronze medal, while the host Finns fell 2-1 in a shootout to the United States in the gold-medal game in Espoo.
Canada’s 4-1 pre-tournament win Wednesday over Finland was the first meeting between the two countries since that semifinal.
Down 2-0 in Friday’s opener, Canada swarmed the offensive zone for a second-period 25-2 edge in shots, and scored twice in a 20-second span to pull even.
“I don’t think we entered the offensive zone, not even once in the second period,” Tuominen said.
“We just need to focus on getting out of our zone and getting the puck deep and getting changes. Then we get fresh legs on the ice and maybe create something other than just playing d-zone.”
Holopainen pulled the Finns even with a backhand tip between the pads of Desbiens, but Fillier quickly responded when Spooner fed her in the slot from behind the net.
Canada led for the first time in the game early in the third period when Jenner’s redirection deflected off Ambrose and by Keisala.
Poulin wired a wrist shot past Keisala right after Rattray scored at 14:41 during a goal-mouth scramble in the second period.
Finland’s power-play went 0-for-11 in the tune-up, but converted its first chance Friday to spot the visitors a two-goal lead by 6:05 of the opening period.
Tuominen scored five-on-three. Laitinen’s off-speed deflection of a Sofianna Sundelin shot spun by the glove of Desbiens at 2:25.
Finland coach Pasi Mustonen also has eight rookies in his lineup.
“We were better in the first period actually and played a wonderful period,” Mustonen said. “I’m actually quite satisfied with the way we played when you look at the whole game.
“Knowing this wasn’t our best game we will play here in worlds, we will try to play better and better, so it will be interesting to see what happens.”
Canada meets Russia in Pool A on Sunday, followed by Switzerland on Tuesday and the U.S. on Thursday.
The quarterfinals Aug. 28 are followed by the Aug. 30 semifinals and medal games Aug. 31.
Hockey Canada didn’t sell tickets for the preliminary round, but allows a maximum of 120 family members into a dedicated section of WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre if they wear masks and don’t have COVID-19 symptoms.
No player, official or team staff member had tested positive for the virus since the 10 teams entered the tournament bubble Aug. 10, the International Ice Hockey Federation said Friday in statement.
Finland is minus star goaltender Noora R?ty, whose combined 93 saves in the 2019 semifinal and final earned her the award for the tournament’s top goaltender.
R?ty didn’t join the Finnish team this summer because she couldn’t financially afford to leave her Minnesota goaltending school this summer, she told the Finnish media outlet Ilta-Sanomat earlier this month.
Keisala proved able to fill the void with save after save to make Canada work for the victory.
“She’s been the best goalie in Finland the last year,” Mustonen said.
Notes: Rosters were expanded to 25 players from 23 for this world championship for extra personnel in the event of injury . . . Canadian forwards Laura Stacey and Kristin O’Neill and goaltender Kristin Campbell were scratches Friday . . . Finnish defender Jenni Hiirikoski joined Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser and countrywoman Karoliina Rantamaki for participation in the most world championships at 13. At 69 career games, Hiirikoski is one off the record for the most games played.
NHL Rumors: Oilers, Islanders, Blues, Canadiens, More – The Hockey Writers
In today’s NHL rumors rundown, now that Kailer Yamamoto has signed, there’s already talk about whether or not the Edmonton Oilers can fit both him and Jesse Puljujarvi into their long-term plans. Meanwhile, the New York Islanders have potentially too many contracts and may need to move a prospect. What’s the latest on the status of Vladimir Tarasenko and are the Montreal Canadiens going to be down a prospect due to a refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine?
Can Oilers Only Keep One of Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi?
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal writes that Yamamoto’s one-year, $1.175 million deal certainly isn’t going to pose problems for this season, but wonders what happens if Yamamoto has a bounce-back 2021-22 campaign. If he ups his production, he could be eyeing Drake Batherson and Joel Farabee‘s six-year deals around $5 million per season.
If so, Staples suggests this could be problematic. He writes:
The Oilers are pressed up against the cap and there’s going to be little cap space for years to come, what with the flat cap and big-ticket and long-term contracts for Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zach Hyman. Where will the Oilers find the money to pay players like Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi, both on expiring contracts now, if they have big years? Good luck with that, Ken Holland. You will need it.
source – ‘All systems go? Yes. Edmonton Oilers sign Kailer Yamamoto to a one-year deal’ – David Staples – Edmonton Journal – 09/18/2021
Staples suggests the Oilers may end up having to sign one of Yamamoto or Puljujarvi and trade the other.
Islanders Logjam in Terms of Contracts, Could Lose Bellows
While the salary cap doesn’t appear to be a massive concern, CapFriendly already has the New York Islanders roster at the maximum of 23 players. This does not include the recent signings of Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise. A move is likely on the horizon to free up spots.
Pro Hockey Rumors reports that one of the players worth watching is Kieffer Bellows. The unsigned prospect is the kind of player who is on the bubble to make the roster in such a tight competition for spots, but they’d have to try to sneak him through waivers if he doesn’t make the main roster. It might turn out the GM Lou Lamoriello looks at a potential trade if he cannot re-sign Bellows to a new deal or if he believes someone else has a better shot at a roster spot.
Still with the Islanders, Chara discussed why he chose to sign with the team this summer and said he talked to his family all summer about returning to the NHL for one more year and admitted there were other teams interested in him. He said: “We made the decision to go with the Islanders.” He’s honoured to be returning to the team that drafted him.
Tarasenko Trade Update
According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Blues GM Doug Armstrong expects Tarasenko to remain a member of the team to open the NHL regular season. He will continue to look at trade options out of respect for the player’s request but the team is expecting Tarasenko to return and contribute.
Armstrong noted the ideal scenario would be that Tarasenko contributes so much that he changes his mind on the trade request. “I guess my (hope) is that he’ll be playing so good that he won’t want to be traded,” Armstrong said with a laugh. “And we won’t want to trade him.”
As for whether or not he thinks Tarasenko returning will make for an awkward situation in the locker room, he responded:
“They’re all pros. Our medical staff are pros. Our players are pros. And Vladi’s a pro. So we just have to have a good season. He has to have a good season. He wants to play for a number of years, and to do that, he’s gotta make himself marketable. And to do that, we have to be a good team for him, too.”
source – ‘Armstrong expects Tarasenko to be on Blues’ opening-day roster’ – Jim Thomas – 09/18/2021
Canadiens’ Ylönen Out Due to Lack of Vaccination
According to a report from La Presse (translated to English) Jesse Ylönen is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and as a result, had to undergo quarantine upon his arrival in the country. What’s intriguing about this is that the report notes: “Ylönen is not vaccinated “for reasons which belong to him”. At the time of this writing, we had not received a response from his agent to our email requesting clarification.”
The NHL has stated that players who elect not to be vaccinated could be suspended without pay if they contract the virus. More interesting in Ylönen’s case is that he’s likely slated to be part of the Laval Rocket’s roster and his participation in games that take place in the United States (22 of 72) could be problematic. Ylönen could end up missing 30% of Laval’s games if the federal quarantine does indeed apply to professional hockey players.
It’s not clear why he hasn’t been vaccinated — pre-existing condition or personal beliefs — but NHL Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly said he expects less than15 players in all of the NHL will not be adequately vaccinated by the time the season starts on October 12. The report doesn’t indicate if Ylönen has plans to get vaccinated or not.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”
Blue Jays give Jose Berrios early run support in win over Twins – Sportsnet.ca
Toronto’s early prowess at the plate generated a 5-3 win over the visiting Twins as the Jays took two of three games in the weekend series.
Berrios surrendered three runs on four hits, gave up a walk and struck out six over six and two-thirds innings of work.
Toronto (84-65) continued to hold second spot in the American League wild-card race entering the final two weeks of the regular season.
The Jays are 15-3 in September, which is the best in Major League Baseball, and are 21-9 at home since returning to the Rogers Centre in late July.
The last time Toronto was 19 games above .500 was Aug. 31, 2016.
The Blue Jays have 13 regular-season games remaining in 2021, including this week’s road trip that has them in Tampa Bay for three games against the Rays starting Monday followed by four in Minnesota.
Toronto sent 10 batters to the plate in Sunday’s first inning against Twins starter Luke Farrell (1-1), who is the son of former Blue Jays manager John Farrell.
Second baseman Marcus Semien started the barrage doubling down the left-field line with one out to then score on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s single.
Shortstop Bo Bichette then bashed a two-run shot for his 26th homer.
A single to right from Teoscar Hernandez and an infield hit by Corey Dickerson put runners on first and second. They scored on back-to-back singles from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Breyvic Valera.
Gurriel increased his RBI total to a team-leading 27 in September.
Before arriving in Toronto via a July 30 trade with the Twins, the 27-year-old Berrios spent the first five-and-a-half years of his career in Minnesota.
He still wears the Twins red glove on his left hand on the mound.
Berrios (12-8), has won four of his last five starts, but struggled in Sunday’s fourth inning.
With one out, he hit former Blue Jays standout Josh Donaldson in the right forearm.
Miguel Sano moved Donaldson to third with a double to centre. Shortstop Nick Gordon scored his teammate with a double down the left-field line.
The Twins moved a run closer with a homer from Ben Rortvedt, their ninth hitter in the order, with two out in the seventh inning.
The 2-1 curveball was Berrios’s 100th and final pitch for the afternoon.
Trevor Richards replaced him and pitched well before giving way to stopper Jordan Romano for the final inning. Romano earned his 19th save.
Teoscar Hernandez's 3-run shot spurs Blue Jays to victory over Twins – CBC.ca
The three-run homer launched by Teoscar Hernandez in the fourth inning provided the Blue Jays with enough runs to defeat the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in Toronto, and the blast pushed him past Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the team lead in RBI.
The 6-2 victory also restored the Blue Jays (83-65) to the second wild-card spot in the American League by a half-game over the New York Yankees.
The Yankees (83-66) were thumped 11-3 at home by Cleveland. The Boston Red Sox (85-65) held on to the top wild-card spot with a 9-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Hernandez has 106 RBI, two more than Guerrero, who has an outside chance at the AL triple crown. He’s first in batting average (.318) and homers (46), and now fourth in RBI, eight behind Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
The 28-year-old Hernandez credits work on his mental game as the reason for his productive and consistent season. He’s not only been reliable at the plate but also in the outfield.
“He’s been the best hitter on a lot of teams,” Blue Jays starter Steven Matz said of Hernandez. “He’s easy to overlook with how good this lineup is. He’s been amazing.”
Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak, a seven-time Olympic medallist, was among 14,722 at the Rogers Centre. She threw out the ceremonial first pitch and tossed a strike.
Twins’ 8-game win streak stopped
The Twins appeared headed for a ninth straight win in Toronto dating back Aug. 17, 2017. They led 2-0 after the first inning on a two-run homer to right field by former Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who also belted a solo shot in Minnesota’s series-opening win Friday.
But Matz settled down after Donaldson’s homer Saturday to retire 16 of the next 17 Twins.
Matz has benefitted from the highest average of run support in Major League Baseball this season at 8.07 a game. He’s won his last four decisions. His 13th win matched Hyun Jin Ryu for the team lead.
“To be in a hole like that, you just want to make good pitches and put up zeroes,” Matz said.
“I just wanted to keep it close and wait for the bats to come alive.”
The bats perked up in the fourth. Minnesota rookie starter Bailey Ober (2-3) took a no-hitter into the inning. The home side got to Ober the second time through the Blue Jays’ order.
Marcus Semien led off the fourth with a solo shot to left field to become only the fifth second baseman in MLB history to hit 40 or more homers in a season.
Yesterday: 31st birthday<br>Today: 40th homer of the season<br><br>Not a bad weekend, huh? 🥳 <a href=”https://t.co/uaSwpoBN6f”>pic.twitter.com/uaSwpoBN6f</a>
Guerrero then walked, and Bo Bichette singled to centre. Hernandez lifted a first-pitch slider high into the sky that barely cleared the left-field fence for his 28th homer and a two-run advantage.
“I knew I hit it good, but just a little high,” he said.
Ober and OUT 💪<br><br>💣 <a href=”https://twitter.com/TeoscarH?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TeoscarH</a> 💣 <a href=”https://t.co/9HaQgApXkQ”>pic.twitter.com/9HaQgApXkQ</a>
Toronto padded its lead in the seventh when Twins reliever Jovani Moran loaded the bases with walks to Alejandro Kirk, George Springer and Guerrero. Kyle Barraclough replaced Moran and was greeted with a two-run single to left from Bichette.
Bo adds mo’ 🙌 <a href=”https://t.co/E9JULud582″>pic.twitter.com/E9JULud582</a>
A two-out walk to Donaldson followed by a single to centre from Miguel Sano ended Matz’s day after 96 pitches and five and two-thirds innings of work.
Blue Jays reliever Trevor Richards finished off the sixth for Matz. Tim Mayza generated a one-two-three seventh inning and struck out Nick Gordon to begin the eighth.
Righty Adam Cimber finished off the eighth, aided by a brilliant play from Bichette. He went deep in the hole to his right to throw out Donaldson.
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