Reigning champions the United States made a blistering start to the defence of their International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Women’s Under-18 Championship title as they thrashed the Czech Republic 6-0 in St. Catharines, Canada.
Goals in the first period from Grace Zumwinkle and Taylor Heise gave the American team a comfortable advantage which they never looked like relinquishing, especially after Emily Oden made it 3-0 with a solo effort shortly after play resumed.
Despite the Czech defence having improved in the second period, tiredness played a factor in the third as Natalie Snodgrass scored a brace, before Catherine Skaja added a sixth goal for the Americans.
“Every game we want to get better, so to come off the ice knowing every line contributed and we got a shutout from our goalie is great,” said US player Rebecca Gilmore afterwards.
“It shows our depth, and hopefully this is our worst game of the tournament.”
The result put the American team top of Group A alongside the host nation Canada, who earned a 5-2 victory over Russia.
Sophie Shirley and Ashton Bell put their side into a 2-0 lead after the opening third of the tie at the Meridian Centre.
The match, though, was decided by a thrilling second period with Ryleigh Houston, Emma Maltais and Daryl Watts finding the net for the hosts, while Fanuza Kadirova and Yelizaveta Zenchenko scored, ultimately, consolation efforts for Russia during the frantic period of play.
Finland’s women are hoping to replicate the success of their men’s side, who claimed the IIHF World Junior Championship title on Tuesday (January 5), and they began Group B with a comprehensive 11-1 victory over France.
Petra Nieminen, Jenniina Nylund and Camilla Reinikainen scored twice as the Finnish team made it a debut to forget for their opponents, who were appearing at the top level for the first time having been promoted last year.
The final game of the first day of competition saw Sweden record a 5-1 victory over Switzerland to move to joint first in Group B.
Switzerland and Finland will meet tomorrow, before France will attempt to bounce back from their heavy defeat against Sweden.
Meanwhile, Russia and the United States will clash in Group A, with the hosts set to go in search of their second victory when they take on the Czech Republic.
By Michael Pavitt, this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz