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Women's World Championship Roundup: Canada, USA, Hungary, Sweden Start Strong

Canada and USA started off strong, Sweden beat their Danish rivals and Hungary pulled off a big victory on the opening day of the women's World Championship.
Women's World Championship (WWC)

The 2022 women’s World Championship got underway Thursday with a pair of games in both Group A and Group B. It was a mix of known stars including Marie-Philip Poulin and Amanda Kessel showing dominance, mixed with the emergence of new stars including the USA’s Taylor Heise. The lone upset came in Group B with Hungary picking up a win over Germany.

Here is a look at the opening day matchups:

USA Hands Japan a Lopsided Loss

We knew that this World Championship would be a mix of veteran contributions for the United States, and a coming-out party for some of the nation’s most skilled up and comers. That’s exactly how game one played out, with USA outshooting Japan 62-6 in a 10-0 romping.

The speed and skill of NCAA standout and Patty Kazmaier Award winner Taylor Heise proved too much for the opposition. She swarmed the puck and created space for her teammates setting up five goals. Veterans including Alex Carpenter, Amanda Kessell, and Kendall Coyne Schofield all had three points in the win. 

Despite the veteran leadership, it was hard not to notice the playmaking and pace of Heise, who was named the USA’s player of the game. In particular,  USA’s eighth goal saw Heise spin near the blueline to maintain control before saucering a backhand pass to Alex Carpenter who found space in the slot to score. 

Japan’s player of the game was captain Shiori Koike.

Balanced Attack Helps Canada Top Finland

Familiar names spotted the highlight reel for Canada in a 4-1 victory for one of the tournament favorites over a Finnish team many expect to compete for bronze. 

Sarah Nurse, the leading scorer from the 2022 Olympics, got Canada on the board first, redirecting a hard pass from Marie-Philip Poulin in the high slot on the power rplay. Finland evened it shortly after, but Poulin buried a chance of her own to make it 2-1 in the first. 

The key play of the opening frame, however, happened in the dying seconds. Canadian goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens laid down her pad and outstretched Finland’s Kiira Yrjanen on a penalty shot to make a key save and preserve Canada’s lead, an advantage that would prove vital heading into the final 40 minutes.

During the second period, Canadian defender Meaghan Mikkelson slid down to the crease and banged home a puck. It was her first goal in her first appearance with Canada since the 2018 Olympics. Blayre Turnbull later added an empty net goal to give Canada the 4-1 win.

Hungary Upsets Germany

The Hungarian’s proved up to the challenge of competing in the top tier of the World Championship immediately upsetting Germany 4-2 to open Group B action.

The Germans jumped out to a quick two-goal lead thanks to Laura Kluge and Luisa Welcke. After the intermission, Hungary, who had already outshot the Germans 9-5 in the opening frame finally found the back of the net. Hungarian blueliner Franciska Kiss-Simon scored a pair of goals, roofing a shot over the glove, and then over the blocker from the point later on to tie the game 2-2. 

Kinga Jokai-Szilagyi, who was second in team scoring at the 2021 World Championship, gave Hungary the lead scoring a shorthanded marker after a giveaway from the German netminder. Hungary would later add an empty netter to secure the win, a huge moment for Hungarian women's hockey.

Sweden Knocks Off Host Denmark

With almost 1,500 fans on hand to see the host Denmark face off against European rival Sweden, the arena was electrified early as Denmark’s Emma Russell scored to open the game for the Danes. That didn't last long, though, as Sweden skated to a 5-2 victory.

Just 30 seconds after Russell scored, Sweden's Hanna Olsson scored her first of back-to-back goals in the game to gain control for Sweden. Maja Nylen Persson scored the third goal for the Swedes, who peppered Danish netminder Cassandra Repstock-Romme throughout the contest. 

In the third, the team’s exchanged goals, but Sweden inevitably added to their lead on the power play thanks to Olsson's hat-trick marker. Young blueliner Mira Jungaker had a pair of assists for Sweden in the 5-2 win.

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Three Stars From Day One

1. Taylor Heise, F (USA) - Heise immediately made herself known with the USA’s senior national team, helping set up five goals. She controlled the puck, showed patience, and effectively dished as her teammates entered open ice. An impressive debut for the 22-year-old. The tournament MVP at the U-18 World Championship in 2018, Heise is already showing her game can transfer to the next level.

2. Marie-Philip Poulin, F (CAN) - Canada's top player against Finland, Poulin showed the trademark attributes that make her the best in the game. On the power play, she fed a shot-pass directly to Sarah Nurse’s tape for a tip to open the scoring, and then tallied the game-winning goal herself later in the first. Throughout the game, her patience in zone entries and ability to vary her own attack created chances. She still looks like she’s playing at a level above the competition. 

3. Anni Keisala, G (FIN) - Facing 43 shots, things could have been much worse for the Finns against Canada without Keisela stepping into the net. Many questioned the Finnish direction when she replaced Noora Raty before the 2021 World Championship. Keisala answered by being named the tournament’s best goaltender and has continued her stellar play. She stopped several point blank chances by the Canadians, and slowed the pace for Finland when they repeatedly found themselves pinned in their own end. Despite the loss, Keisala is off to an excellent start.

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