Canada stunned by Finland, won't play for women's hockey world title for 1st time

Canada won't play for gold at the women's world hockey championship for the first time in tournament history following a 4-2 semifinal loss to host Finland on Saturday. The Finns will face defending champion United States or Russia in Sunday's final.

Canadians, U.S. had met in gold-medal game in all 18 previous tournaments

Nelli Laitinen, bottom, celebrates her goal with Finnish teammates Isa Rahunen, left, Rosa Lindstedt, middle, and Ronja Savolainen, right, in Saturday's semifinal win over Canada at the women's world hockey championship in Espoo, Finland. (Jussi Nukari/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada won't play for gold at the women's world hockey championship for the first time in tournament history.

Host Finland earned a stunning 4-2 semifinal win Saturday in Espoo and will play for gold on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET against the United States, which dispatched Russia 8-0 in the other semifinal.
Canada will face the Russians on Sunday at 9 a.m. ET in the bronze-medal contest.

"It's unreal and on top of that, to do it here on home ice, we've been working so hard for so many years now," assistant captain Michelle Karvinen said. "It's not just one good game.

"It's something we actually have earned."

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Canada fell 4-2 to Finland on Saturday, and won't play in the IIHF final for the first time in tournament history. 1:00

The U.S. and Canada had met in the final of all 18 previous world championship finals dating back to the first in 1990.

Canada beat Finland 6-1 to cap the group stage of this year's tournament Tuesday. But the Finns had better special teams and goaltending Saturday.

Savolainen paces attack

In her 200th career game for Finland, goalie Noora Raty made 43 saves for the win before an announced gathering of 4,311 in her hometown.

Finland's Minnamari Tuominen, left, and goalkeeper Noora Räty stop Canada's Ann-Sophie Bettez in Saturday's semifinal at the women's world hockey championship. Räty made 43 saves in her team's 4-2 victory. (Jussi Nukari/AFP/Getty Images)

Ronja Savolainen scored twice, including an empty-net goal, for Finland. Jenni Hiirikowski had a goal and an assist and Susanna Tapani also scored.

Right now it just feels like a loss for Team Canada, which we never like to have at the world championships.— Canada forward Brianne Jenner after Saturday's 4-2 semifinal defeat to Finland

Jamie Lee Rattray and Loren Gabel countered for the Canadians, who trailed 3-2 after the second. Shannon Szabados stopped 15 shots in her first loss against the Finns in 18 starts.

The Canadian women are now in the unfamiliar position of having to play for bronze Sunday.

Finland's disruption of the established world order atop women's hockey will be viewed by some a good for the female game. But it was difficult for Canada to feel any positives in its loss.

"It's hard to have that perspective as a player in the game," captain Brianne Jenner said. "Right now it just feels like a loss for Team Canada, which we never like to have at the world championships.

"We're pretty disappointed with that outcome. We'll give credit to Finland for a game well played."

Injured Turnbull exits in 1st period

Canada was without captain Marie-Philip Poulin for all but part of one period at the world championship. The highest-scoring player on Canada's roster reinjured her knee Monday attempting a return.

The loss of forward Blayre Turnbull in the first period Saturday further eroded Canada's attack. She was in a vulnerable position when Savolainen pushed her and Turnbull went head-first into the boards.

The player head coach Perry Pearn called "the conscience of the team," was in a vulnerable position when Savolainen pushed her and Turnbull tumbled head-first into the boards.

No penalty was called. Turnbull stayed down for a minute and left the ice with assistance and didn't return.

"To me, what happened there is I think embarrassing for women's hockey because checking from behind at every level is not acceptable," Pearn said. "If that was one of our players on a Finn, I would want it called.

"There's a potential for someone to break a neck and for a veteran official like the group like we had, for them not to make that call is really wrong."

After losing to the Finns for the first time in a preliminary-round game at the 2017 world championship, Canada went 7-0, beating them by at least three goals in every game until Saturday.

Power outage

Finland scored its first two goals on the power play and the first three were generated off shots from the point.

The Finns have spent years defending their own end against Canada, so they knew what to do to protect a lead.

"We've been pretty confident that one day it could happen when we play a perfect game and I have a good game," Raty said. "So we finally scored three on Canada.

"That doesn't happen too often. If you keep believing in yourself, anything can happen."

Canada's special teams had been effective through five games. But going 0-for-4 with a man advantage, including 90-plus seconds of a five-on-three early in the second, put it at a disadvantage.

Canadian players twice threw their arms in the air in celebration of a goal in the third, but were disappointed.

The second time was quickly waived off, but the first no-goal called was upheld after a lengthy review.

Missed opportunity costly

Tapani tipped a Nelli Laitinen shot between Szabados's pads at 16:18 of the second to restore Finland's one-goal lead.

Gabel had pulled Canada even at 7:53 on the rush with Jenner and Ann-Sophie Bettez. It was a broken play, but Gabel got enough stick on it to tip the puck past Raty's right toe.

Canada couldn't generate a goal on a two-man advantage early in the second.

"A big, huge kill for us," Raty said. "If they score there, it could go either way."

The hosts took momentum from that kill into an ensuing man-advantage to lead 2-1 at 6:50 when Hiirikoski scored with a one-timer from the point.

The Finns scored on their lone power-play chance in the first period to pull even 1-1.

Hiirikoski, at the point, took a drop pass from Noora Tulus and Savolainen tipped the shot by Szabados at 16:23.

Canada struck early with Rattray on Raty's doorstep re-directing a Laura Stacey wrist shot at 2:32.


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