By Joe Pantorno – amNY
The USA women’s hockey team passed its first test of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing with flying colors, defeating Finland 5-2 in the tournament’s opening game.
Kendall Coyne Schofield and Alex Carpenter each recorded two goals to pace the Americans, who thoroughly dominated a Finland team that entered the Olympics ranked No. 3 in the world by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The US outshot Finland 52-12 in the victory, including a second period in which they yielded just two shots on goal.
Midway through the first period, the US lost one of its most productive veteran forwards in Brianna Decker due to a significant lower-body injury that required her to be stretchered off the ice.
While it could have been a moment for Team USA to lose concentration — especially considering the bench was visibly shaken up while Decker was on the ice — they found an opener just over one minute later.
Amanda Kessel, playing in her third Olympics, drove down the left icing line toward the Finnish net, cut in front of goal, and finished under netminder Anni Keisala with 9:23 to go in the frame.
Just 2:23 later, their lead was doubled on the power play when Carpenter wristed one home from the left circle over the shoulder of Keisala.
Coyne Schofield took over in the second when she scored both of her goals in a 64-second span to firmly put the United States in the driver’s seat.
With 5:32 gone in the frame, Coyne Schofield snapped a wrist shot from the right circle through the blocker side of Keisala to put the United States up three. Entering the zone down the right-wing, she meandered down to the right dot and used the opposing defenseman as a screen to cut down the netminder’s visibility.
Her second showed off a supreme set of hands, redirecting a wrister from the point out of mid-air, approximately waist-high, to highlight the captain’s brace.
USA goaltender Maddie Rooney spoiled her own shutout in the third period to provide a consiliatory goal for Finland. After taking a delay-of-game penalty by playing the puck in the restricted area, she was beaten by a wrister from Susanna Tapani 3:15 into period. It was Finland’s first shot of the third after being held to just two shots in the second.
Carpenter got it right back for the Americans when she picked up her second of the day, redirecting a centering pass from Abby Roque right in the crease.
Tapani got her second with 2:20 to go in regulation — though it wasn’t made official until the final buzzer sounded. Her shot was originally deemed by the officials to ring off the post rather than hit the back of the net, which continued play down to the expiration of the period. It wasn’t until that stoppage that the officials deemed that Tapani’s shot went in — forcing both teams to come back out on the ice and replay the final two-plus minutes.