HERNING, Denmark — Amanda Kessel (Madison, Wis.) led the offensive charge for the U.S. with two goals and an assist in a dominant 6-1 win over Finland in its second game of the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship here tonight at KVIK Hockey Arena in Herning, Denmark.
“I thought we were thorough in our play and really showed up ready to go tonight,” said John Wroblewski (Neenah, Wis.), head coach of the 2022 U.S. Women’s National Team. “You always have to respect the Finns, because they’re so dangerous in their mentality to make plays in the neutral zone and we were certainly up to the task tonight. I’m very happy with our effort.”
The U.S. began the game with relentless offensive pressure, which led to an early power play and several quality chances to tilt the ice in its favor. Though the U.S. wasn’t able to find the back of the net while on the advantage, it set the tone for a contest that saw Team USA outshoot its opponent 72-16, including a 28-2 advantage in the opening 20 minutes.
Jincy Dunne (O’Fallon, Mo.) broke the ice and gave Team USA a 1-0 lead at the 6:13 mark when Kessel forced a turnover behind the Finnish net. The loose puck was picked up by Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights, Minn.) and dished to Dunne at the point who unloaded a quick shot through traffic that beat Finnish goalie Anni Keisala low on the glove side. The tally was Dunne’s first as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Just over a minute later, Kendall Coyne Schofield (Palos Heights, Ill.) created another quality opportunity when she received a pass from Savannah Harmon (Downers Grove, Ill.) on the right of the goal. She threaded a feed into the slot for Lacey Eden (Annapolis, Md.), who was able to one-time a shot, but was denied on the doorstep.
It appeared Finland had found the equalizer halfway through the period, but the goal was immediately waved off due to a hooking penalty that directly led to the scoring chance. Following the disallowed goal, the U.S. was back on the offensive, but couldn’t find a way to extend its lead heading to the first intermission.
After erasing the final 1:22 of a penalty kill that carried over from the first period, Team USA got right back to using its speed and forecheck to dictate the game and push the Finnish team to its heels. Taylor Heise (Lake City, Minn.) nearly found the back of the net early in the middle frame while on the power play after taking a feed from Hannah Bilka (Coppell, Texas) on the left faceoff dot and firing a wrist shot that rang the crossbar before deflecting out of play.
During Team USA’s fourth power play of the game, Abby Roque (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.) doubled the lead, with a net-front tip. After some quick puck movement, Cayla Barnes (Eastvale, Calif.) let a shot go from the center of the ice and Roque reached out and redirected it to the back of the net with 11:07 left in the second period. Coyne Schofield also picked up an assist on the play.
Just minutes later, a nifty chip from Kessel in the neutral zone sprang Alex Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.) behind the Finnish defense. Carpenter raced to the net and made a backhand- forehand move, but Keisala stuck out her right pad and denied the scoring chance.
The U.S. continued to pressure and Eden appeared to extend the lead to 3-0 with 5:40 to play in the second on a wraparound attempt. However, the officials reviewed the play and reversed the call on the ice after determining Coyne Schofield had deflected the puck with a high stick just seconds before the goal.
The U.S. wasn’t fazed by the reversal and found a third goal minutes later off slick passing while on the power play. From the bottom of the right faceoff circle, Coyne Schofield fed Roque in traffic at the top of the crease. Roque quickly touched the puck along to a waiting Kessel, who fired a shot into a yawning net to extend the lead to 3-0 with 2:49 to play in the second period.
Finland cut into the U.S. lead in the opening minute of the third period when a point shot from Ella Viitasuo found its way through traffic and past the blocker of U.S. netminder Maddie Rooney (Andover, Minn.) to make it 3-1.
It took less than two minutes for the U.S. to answer and regain its three-goal lead. Heise skated behind the net from the right corner and snuck a behind-the-back pass to Kessel on the doorstep. Kessel made no mistake for her second goal of the night.
Finland pulled Keisala for an extra attacker with 3:00 to play, but Bilka picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and found the empty net to make it 5-1 with 2:17 to play. Brandt added a sixth for Team USA during a net-front scramble with 1:35 left.
With the win, the U.S. moved to 2-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in the world championship. Next up, Team USA will face Switzerland on Monday, August 29, at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) live on NHL Network.
Notes: Amanda Kessel (Madison, Wis.) was named U.S. Player of the Game with two goals and an assist…Team USA outshot Finland 72-16…The U.S. was 2-5 on the power play, while Finland was 0-3 ... Click here for pregame information.