The 2023 World Ringette Championships wrapped up Saturday the wrong way for the host Canadians.
They just didn’t have enough finish, while there was too much Finnish at the other end of Calgary’s Markin MacPhail Centre.
And so the Under-21 Canucks settled for silver medals, falling 8-4 to mighty Finland before a spirited crowd at WinSport.
“Disappointed, upset — pretty standard emotions for losing,” said Canada head coach Andrea Ferguson. “We were right there, so it makes it even tougher.”
Saturday night’s contest was the capper of the two-game set between the only two nations in the élite class of the week-long international event.
“Hindsight is always 20/20, and we had (Friday’s) game within reach,” continued Ferguson. “If we’d have won that one and lost (Saturday), we would’ve played overtime.
“It’s always hard to look back.”
Since Friday’s Game 1 ended in a 6-6 draw between Canada and Finland, whichever side won Saturday would lay claim to the coveted global championship.
And that was Finland, skating to a 4-2 advantage after two quarters and maintaining a lead after intermission despite the Canadians clawing to within a goal early in the third quarter.
They then pulled away in the fourth and final quarter.
“Finland’s a good team,” Ferguson said. “You have to respect their speed, their strength and their shot ability. We did everything we could to allay that and slow them down, and they just kept coming and coming and coming.”
Finland got an early goal from Meeri Lonka and the next one from Emmi Juusela to take the early advantage.
So Canada was feeling the pressure early, until Brianna Jacobi put Canada on the board and Calgary’s Regan Meier followed up to even the score before the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started a little more slowly than the first, but the Finns piled on the pressure and Canada’s defence absorbed it well. Both teams displayed solid back-checking and stayed strong on their lines. Finland kept the majority of the possession towards the end of the quarter, which eventually resulted in two goals when Juusela scored her second and third of the night, giving her a hat-trick before halftime.
“The second quarter really hurt us — we spent a lot of time in our zone defending,” Ferguson said. “At the start of the third, we scored a quick goal, and it was a lot closer.”
The Canadians came out strong in the third quarter. Finland took and early penalty which allowed Canada to take advantage of their power play, which they did as Manon Vautour put away the ring to move Canada within one. But penalty trouble left Canada shorthanded, and Finland managed to regain their two-goal lead, as Lonka marked her second of the night. Finland extended its lead further when Julia Kangaskoski got on the scoresheet. Finland struck again when Lonka scored her hat-trick marker.
Canada got back into it when a quick change and a mistake from the Finns turned into a goal by Laurence Lacombe.
But the Finns went right back at it. Immediately, they arrived in Canada’s end, and Julia Kangaskoski notched her second goal of the night. And that’s how it ended.
“I’m incredibly proud of this group,” added Ferguson. “We put high-performance ringette back on the map in Canada after the last program. I think we’re there. This group has a good future of ringette in front of them. And I think for the 2025 worlds, the Finns are going to have to worry a lot more about the skill and the talent on this team.”
Game MVPs were Finland’s Lotta Kujala and Meier. The defender Meier, who had two goals and one assist throughout the tourney, won the ‘Team Award’ as the best player for Canada during the event. Finland’s Team Award recipient was Lonka, with five goals and four assists over the week. The U21 ‘Pool Award’ given to the best player of the President’s Pool went to Juusela, who collected five goals and two assists to help her team win gold … The President’s Pool world champs are the Americans after USA smoked Sweden 8-1 in the gold-medal match early Saturday. Game MVPs were Sweden’s Hanna Svehog and American Haley Wickens … During the tournament, American Isabella Koppens notched eight goals and seven assists to help her team win gold. For that, she earned the Pool Award … It was a thrilling finish in the U18 class, as Canada White — a collection of players from across the country but primarily from the west — got a buzzer-beater from Brianna Shupe to score a 6-5 victory over Finland. The Canadians stole a bobbled pass at the blue-line, and Shupe scored for Canada with 1.8 seconds remaining on the clock. Dylan Pighin, Tessa Galandy and Tayte Arlinghaus were among the other goal-scorers for the victorious young Canadians.