Good Knight leads US women to opening ice hockey win
Sochi (Russia) (AFP) – Hilary Knight scored after just 53 seconds and had an assist as the United States beat Finland 3-1 in the opening game of the Sochi Olympic women’s hockey tournament on Saturday.
Kelli Stack and Alex Carpenter scored second period goals for the Americans, who out-shot the Fins 43-15 in front of a crowd of 4,135 at the Shayba Arena.
“We wanted to get some early shots,” said Knight. “We found a way and that was great for our confidence.”
US goaltender Jessie Vetter was little troubled in the one-sided contest, which came just three months after Finland defeated the Americans by the same score at the Four Nations Cup.
The Fins’ victory in Lake Placid, New York, was hailed as their “Miracle on Ice” and it provided some hope for the underdogs going into the tournament opener.
The United States are favoured to win the gold medal in Sochi, having beaten three-time defending champions Canada four straight times in a pre-Olympic exhibition series.
Canada dominated Switzerland in the later game Saturday, outshooting them 69-14 en route to a 5-0 win.
The crowd backed Finland at the Shayba, cheering every shot on goal and what little offence they could muster against the Americans.
“It’s not easy playing a team like Finland,” said Vetter. “They are tough, with a goaltender who keeps them in the game. I’m just happy we won the opening match.”
Knight, who was the best player on the ice for the USA, opened the scoring by picking up a loose puck just seconds into the contest. She raced in alone and beat Finnish goalie Noora Raty with a shot to the stick side.
“It was a nightmare start for me,” Raty said.
Stack and Carpenter, on the powerplay, notched second period goals. Stack took a puck off her chest and used the lower shaft of her stick to bat it out of the air and into the net.
Susanna Tapani scored the lone goal on the powerplay for Finland late in the game, one-timing a pass across the crease from teammate Michelle Karvinen.
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