PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Canada made it into the semifinals of the women’s world hockey championship with an assist from their frenemies.
Canada’s 8-0 win over Russia and Finland losing 5-3 in regulation to the United States on Monday combined to send the Canadians to Thursday’s semifinals alongside the Americans.
The U.S. finished atop Pool A at 3-0 and dropped the Finns into a three-way tie with Canada and Russia at 1-2.
The Canadians ranked second in their pool on superior goal differential with Finland third and Russia fourth.
Germany and Sweden finished first and second respectively in Pool B at 2-1. Germany faces Russia and the Finns take on the Swedes in Tuesday’s quarter-finals. The medal games are Friday.
Canada and the U.S. have met in the final of all 17 world women’s championship with Canada winning 10 titles and the Americans seven.
A 4-3 upset at the hands of Finland earlier in the round robin put Canada in the unusual position of needing help from their archrivals to earn the extra day of rest the bye provides.
Even an overtime point would have been enough for Finland to get the bye instead of Canada.
So any thank you texts from the Canadian side?
"I haven’t checked my phone," U.S. goaltender Alex Rigsby said. "Maybe I have a couple."
The Americans also had their hands full with the hungry Finns. Tied 3-3 in the third, Hannah Brandt scored the eventual winner with Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson adding the empty-netter.
The Canadians did their part to stay in contention for the bye. They needed to beat Russia by only two goals, but poured the pucks past two Russian goaltenders after scoring just three times in two games.
"This was an opportunity to really define ourselves," head coach Laura Schuler said. "Their belief in the game plan is critical.
"We talked about scoring goals the right way and the goals that we scored were a result of doing the little details that are important for success."
Jennifer Wakefield scored twice with Haley Irwin assisting on both. Erin Ambrose and Sarah Potomak scored their first career goals for Canada.
Emily Clark, Natalie Spooner, Brianne Jenner and Meghan Agosta each contributed a goal. Shannon Szabados made 16 saves for her 17th career shutout for Canada.
The Canadians scored more goals in the first period Monday than their first two games combined, got their power play working, and killed off a Russian two-man advantage early in the second.
"Today was a big step for us. Do we have more? Yeah," Irwin said. "This was a huge step for us. There’s a lot of great things that we can take away."
After going 0 for 6 on the power play in their first two games, Canada converted three of seven chances Monday.
"We were being too picky with our opportunities," Wakefield said. "We just kind of need to throw it at the net, crash the net and screen the goalie. We stuck to the keys of the game and we were able to put a few pucks behind her."
It took half a period for the Canadians to get in sync, but Wakefield’s slapshot with Irwin providing the screen got them off to the races at 14:30 of the first period.
At five foot 10 and 170 pounds, the velocity Wakefield generates is intimidating for a goalie. It can also be painful for teammates standing in front of the net.
"I was lucky I guess today. I only got hit with one," Irwin said. "Some days you get hit with more. I had a little chat with her about keeping it lower. All good though."