Canada’s offensive depth shines in dominant win over Russia

Canada's Ella Shelton, left, celebrates her goal with teammate Canada's Victoria Bach during second period IIHF Women's World Championship hockey action against Russia, in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

CALGARY — Canada got offensive contributions from the young and the veteran in a 5-1 win Sunday over Russia at the women’s world hockey championship.

Fourteen different Canadians registered an offensive point in the first meeting with the Russians since beating them for the bronze medal in the 2019 world championship.

Canada’s scorers ranged from youngest player Sarah Fillier at age 21 to the most seasoned forward Rebecca Johnston at 31.

Defender Ella Shelton, 23, earned her first goal with the national women’s team.

Two-time Olympian Melodie Daoust, a 29-year-old mother of a three-year-old son, and defender Erin Ambrose also scored.

“We’re a team and that’s what matters the most,” Daoust said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s your first world championship or your fourth.”

Ann-Renee Desbiens made six saves for the win. Russian forward Olga Sosina scored a power-play goal with one second remaining in regulation.

Russian starting goalie Nadezhda Morozova had 33 saves when she was replaced in the second period by Anna Prugova, who stopped 24 shots.

The host Canadians (2-0) meet Switzerland (0-2) on Tuesday in Pool A before wrapping the preliminary round Thursday against the defending champion United States.

The U.S. (1-0) and Finland (0-1) met in a later Pool A game Sunday. The Czech Republic (2-0) doubled Hungary (0-2) 4-2 in Pool B.

The quarterfinals are Saturday followed by the Aug. 30 semifinals and medal games Aug. 31.

Russia continues to be designated “ROC” (Russian Olympic Committee) in IIHF tournaments, without the country’s flag displayed or anthem played, because of World Anti-Doping Agency sanctions against the country in international sport.

Canada outshot Russia 62-7 and dominated puck possession Sunday, but didn’t score until the second period for a second straight game.

The Russians aggressively used their sticks and bodies to break up scoring chances early in front of Morozova, who gobbled up shots from the perimeter. Russia’s defence began to break down in the second period, however.

“We tried to not only play physically per se, but actively, to chase the defenders, to pressure them, to be aggressive on the forecheck and on the backcheck,” Sofina said. “If you can play like that against Canadians, you’ve got a chance.

“We want to take it to the next level to compete equally with the Canadians and the Americans. We need to be better and we need to get our chances.”

Canada was prepared for a hard brand of hockey from the Russians based on a pre-scouting report from assistant coach Doug Derraugh, said head coach Troy Ryan.

Without any international games the last year and a half because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian women spent the extra time in the gym to get stronger.

“We just know we’ve got to match anybody’s physicality and even take it over a little bit,” Ryan said. “(We) can play that game against anybody.”

A sixth Canadian goal by Victoria Bach was ruled offside in the third period. Johnston re-directed an Emily Clark shot home at 14:09.

Russia’s Valeria Pavlova hit the post on a breakaway after Daoust scored Canada’s fourth goal. Daoust batted in a rebound off a Natalie Spooner effort two minutes into the period.

Morozova was swapped for Prugova after Ambrose’s slapshot from the point deflected off Russian defender Anna Savonina and into the net at 13:48 of the second.

Shelton caged a Brianne Jenner feed from the far boards and beat Morozova’s glove with a wrist shot at 9:11.

“I would say I got all the nerves and jitters out of that first game,” Shelton said.

“Going back into the locker room after every period, there’s lots of good leaders to lean on and look for advice and look for that extra pump to get you through the next period.

“Everybody on this team is hungry to win.”

Fillier scored her second goal in as many games putting the puck between Morozova’s pads off an odd-man rush at 7:29.

Defenders Claire Thompson and Ashton Bell, who are making their world championship debut in Calgary, have a combined four assists between them.

“To have success in these events, in a short-term event, you need to have depth,” Ryan said. “You need to find scoring from everywhere.”

The 2021 women’s championship was scheduled to be held in Nova Scotia in April, but was postponed to May and ultimately cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hockey Canada relocated and rescheduled the 10-country tournament to Calgary in August.

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