CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Brianna Decker and Kendall Coyne Schofield each had a goal and an assist and the nine-time champion United States beat Switzerland 3-0 on Friday night to open the women’s world hockey championship.
The tournament began with the Beijing Olympics less than six months away. The world championship was last played in 2019 in Finland, with the United States winning its fifth straight title. The pandemic twice forced the cancellation of the event in Nova Scotia.
Grace Zumwinkle also scored for the United States and Alex Cavallini made 10 saves. Andrea Braendli stopped 55 shots for Switzerland.
“I thought it was a great game and we’re really excited about the result, but also in how we played as a team” U.S. coach Joel Johnson said. “It just felt really good to get out and play. The Swiss have a great team and played us tough, but it really speaks to how competitive the game has become all over the world.”
Decker opened the scoring at 4:29 of the first period, Coyne Schofield connected at 4:08 of the second, and Grace Zumwinkle capped the scoring with 1:36 left in the second. Decker assisted on Coyne Schofield’s goal to tie the American world championship assists record of 38 held by Krissy Wendell and Jennie Potter.
Earlier in the first Group A game, Sarah Fillier broke a tie midway through the third period and Canada rallied to beat Finland 5-3. In the lone Group B game of the day, Alena Mills had three goals and an assist in the Czech Republic’s 6-1 victory over Denmark.
All five teams in Group A and the top three in Group B will advance to the quarterfinals. The United States will face Finland on Sunday night.
Fillier scored 25 seconds after Elisa Holopainen tied it for Finland. Fillier scored on a rebound after Anni Keisala stopped Natalie Spooner’s wraparound attempt.
“I think when you have energy and a no-quit attitude and you add grit, good things are going to happen,” Cabadian forward Brianne Jenner said.
Ten-time champion Canada overcame a two-goal deficit when Jamie Rattray and Marie-Philip Poulin scored in a 20-second span in the second period. Nelli Laitinen and Minnamari Tuominen scored for Finland in a 3:40 span early in the first, with Tuominen connecting with two Canadians in the penalty box.
Erin Ambrose gave Canada a 3-2 lead early in the third, and Jenner had an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Ann-Renee Desbiens made eight saves for Canada. Keisala stopped 39 shots.
Vendula Pribylova, Dominika Laskova and Kristyna Patkova also scored for the Czech Republic, and Klara Peslarova made eight saves.
Josefine Persson scored for Denmark. The Danes are competing in the top division for the first time since 1992.