Thursday, 14 November 2013

Canada claims Four Nations Gold over Finland amidst sad news

In anticipation of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, the 2013 Four Nations Cup was meant to be an indicator of how the nations of Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States were prepared. Traditionally, the gold medal game is another chapter in the eternal rivalry between Canada and the US. Oddly, the United States would not qualify for its typical spot in the final.

Instead, Canada found itself competing an upstart squad from Finland. While first period goals from Jenelle Kohanchuk, Vicki Bendus, Jennifer Wakefield and Brianne Jenner would provide Canada with a 4-1 lead, putting the game out of reach, 
the contest was not without its surprises.

While Finland would manage another two goals in the game, both were scored on power play opportunities. With less than three minutes remaining in the second stanza, Bailey Bram was serving her second slashing penalty of the game. In the third, she would be penalized for delay of game. Anna Kilponen would bury the puck past Charline Labonte for the only goal of the period. Perhaps Finland’s most impressive stat of the second was the fact that they successfully nullified three Canadian power play opportunities.

Although Kohanchuk extended Canada’s lead back to three goals in the final frame, penalty problems would plague Canada. Brigette Lacquette would get called for a tripping penalty, opening the door for Finland to capitalize. Susanna Tapani would score with assists going to Jenni Hiirikoski and Michelle Karvinen. A late goal by Haley Irwin would result in a 6-3 score, which would remain the final score.

During the four games of the event, Canada averaged 4.25 goals per game, as its high powered offense also capitalized on power play opportunities throughout the tourney with a convincing 27.8 percentage. An 81% penalty kill performance also topped all competitors at the Four Nations. Spooner would lead all skaters with four goals, while Meghan Agosta-Marciano had a team-best four assists.

Following the gold medal victory, an announcement on November 12 surprised many hockey fans as Bonhomme, along with Pursuit of Excellence alumni Brigette Lacquette and Boston University mainstay Jenelle Kohanchuk were released from centralization. Considering Lacquette is still young, there will likely be another opportunity for 2018.

During the gold medal game, Kohanchuk would lead all scorers in the Four Nations Cup gold medal contest with two goals. With due deference to Kohanchuk, a hard-working forward that showed signs of promise, she was an underdog with consideration to the amount of talent at the forward position.

For many fans, the news of Bonhomme’s release is one that is still difficult to absorb. A few days earlier, she had competed in her 100th career game with Canada. As one of the most popular women’s players in the world, the release of Bonhomme was a complete and utter shock to hockey fans evoking powerful emotions. While she turned to social media to thank her fans, she was one of the most charismatic women’s hockey players since Vancouver 2010. Hopefully, there will be many more golden moments in Bonhomme’s storied career.  

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