SOCHI GAMES: U.S. beats Finland in opener
The U.S. women’s hockey team was so intent on avoiding an upset on opening day that the coaching staff did not allow players to attend the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night.
The Americans scored on their first shift of the game and went on to beat Finland 3-1 in front of 4,135 early Saturday morning in the first pool play game, which had a distinct UND flavor to it.
UND freshman Susanna Tapani scored the lone goal for Finland, burying a pass from UND teammate Michelle Karvinen in the third period. But the Americans, who feature UND grads Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux, came away with the victory.
If the U.S. beats Switzerland at 4 a.m. Monday, it will clinch a bye to the semifinals.
The Lamoureux twins were held without a point but were factors in the game, launching four shots on goal. Jocelyne hit the post in the second period. Warroad’s Gigi Marvin was second on the team with six shots on goal during the game.
“Huge win today,” Monique posted on Twitter. “One down.”
Team USA outshot Finland 43-15, but Finnish goal Noora Raty, who starred at the University of Minnesota, played outstanding.
“I know for sure there are 21 players and four coaches in the USA Hockey locker room that don’t believe this is a two- team hockey tournament,” USA coach Katey Stone said. “We played Finland in November and they beat us, we played them here today in a very close game and we believe very strongly that this is a world event and anyone can win.”
Each member of Team USA’s second line registered a goal, beginning with former University of Wisconsin star Hilary Knight.
Knight intercepted a pass, skated in on a breakaway and snapped a shot past Raty just 53 seconds into the game.
“Anytime you can strike quickly, regardless of the team you are playing, the goaltender, the environment, it helps give everyone a little bit of deep breath,” Stone said. “I’m pleased the way our team played today, came out flying.
“Obviously scoring in the first minute sets the tone and take a bit of the edge off.”
Kelli Stack added to the lead at 7:42 of the second period, batting a loose puck out of mid air to give the Americans a 2-0 lead. Later in the period, Carpenter scored on a backhand from a tight angle to make it 3-0.
Tapani drew a penalty late in the third period, then snapped the shutout bid of goaltender Jessie Vetter. An American defenseman tried to rim the puck around the boards, but Karvinen cut it off in the corner, spotted Tapani backdoor and made a perfect pass. Tapani, playing in her first Olympic game, buried the shot at 15:22 for the only goal of the third.
The game was broadcasted live on NBC Sports Network and UND was a frequent topic. Commentators Mike “Doc” Emrick and Pierre McGuire referenced the school no less than 15 times, discussing the four players on the ice in the game.
They also showed a photo of last year’s UND team, while Emrick told stories about the old Barn and how Cal Marvin, Gigi’s grandfather, started the program.