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Team USA Tops Finland, 5-3, To Advance to WWC Semis

04/03/2017, 7:45pm EDT
By USAHockey.com

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights, Minn.) scored the game-winner with 7:35 to play and Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho) netted a pair of power-play markers to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to a 5-3 victory over Finland here tonight in its final preliminary-round game at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship at USA Hockey Arena.

“We fell behind early, but it was really good to see this team respond in a positive way against a tough opponent,” said Robb Stauber, head coach of the 2017 U.S. Women’s National Team. “We continue to make strides as a team and look forward to a pair of practices to gear up for what will be an extremely competitive medal round.”

Team USA (3-0-0-0; W-OTW-OTL-L) has earned the top seed and a bye into Thursday’s (April 6) semifinal round against either Germany or Russia. Puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on NHL.com and televised on delay on NHL Network on Friday (April 7) at 10 a.m. ET.

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Finland took a 1-0 lead 4:46 into play on a wrist shot from the slot by Susanna Tapani.

Team USA pressured for the equalizer in the minutes following Tapani’s tally, and was rewarded with a :36 five-on-three advantage with 7:56 left in the opening stanza.  Seventeen seconds later, Knight slid home a rebound off a shot by Kendall Coyne (Palos Heights, Ill.) to even the score.

Goaltender Alex Rigsby (Delafield, Wis.) kept the game tied entering the first intermission with a point-blank save on a two-on-one rush by Finland in the final minute of the frame.

The U.S. took the lead on a power-play marker by Coyne 3:33 into the second period. The play started when Kelli Stack (Brooklyn Heights, Ohio) rang a backhand attempt off the post and Coyne buried the loose puck into the open net.

Team USA had another five-on-three advantage for 1:04 just over the midway point of the middle frame, but was unable to convert.

Knight doubled the U.S. lead with 4:17 left in the second stanza when she batted a deflected pass by Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.) out of the air for the team’s third power-play tally of the game.

Jenni Hiirikoski got the Finns back within one goal entering the final period when her wrist shot from the left circle beat Rigsby with :24 left in the middle period and Finland tied the game when Michelle Karvinen’s shot on the rush deflected off the cross bar and into the net with 10:56 left in regulation.

Brandt redirected a backhand pass by Gigi Marvin (Warroad, Minn.) through the legs of the Finnish goaltender for the game-winner with 7:35 to play.

The U.S. successfully killed off a Finnish five-on-three advantage for 1:34 in the final minutes of the contest before Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (Grand Forks, N.D.) added an empty-net goal with a minute left to seal the 5-3 victory.

Rigsby finished with 21 saves to earn her first victory of the tournament.

Decker dished out three assists and Kessel notched a pair of helpers.

NOTES: The U.S. outshot Finland, 40-24, and finished 3-for-8 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. For complete game statistics, click hereHannah Brandt was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... The U.S. is the defending champion and has played Canada in the gold medal game in all 17 of the previous events, capturing the event's top prize a total of seven times (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016), including six of the last seven tournaments … For full coverage of Team USA at the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship, click here … For complete event and ticket information, click here.

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Team USA Schedule

Date Opponent Round Time (ET)/Result U.S. Player of Game
Fri., March 31 Canada Preliminary W, 2-0 Nicole Hensley
Sat., April 1 Russia Preliminary W, 7-0 Kendall Coyne
Mon., April 3 Finland Preliminary W, 5-3 Hannah Brandt
Thurs., April 6 Germany Semifinal W, 11-0 Kendall Coyne
Fri., April 7 Canada Gold-Medal Game W, 3-2 OT Kacey Bellamy

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