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Poulin scores twice to lead Canada past Czechia at Women's Worlds

Canada Jocelyne Larocque Renata Fast Blayre Turnbull - The Canadian Press

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored her 100th goal for Canada and added another for good measure in a 5-1 win over Czechia on Friday at the IIHF Women's World Championship.

Poulin scored her milestone goal in style, finishing off a rapid-fire two-on-one with Blayre Turnbull by tucking a backhand behind Czechia netminder Blanka Skodova at 8:03 of the first period. Poulin switched to her backhand so quickly that Skodova was sliding over to the wrong side of the goal as the Canadian star fired the puck home.

The 32-year-old from Beauceville, Que., playing in her 171st game for Canada, joins Hayley Wickenheiser, Jayna Hefford and Danielle Goyette in the century club.

Poulin made it 4-1 at 2:16 of the third with another beauty. After taking the puck just outside the blue line, she went past Czechia defender Dominika Laskova like she was a traffic pylon before snapping a shot home.

Renata Fast, Blayre Turnbull and Laura Stacey also scored for Canada before a largely red-clad crowd at the CAA Centre.

Natalie Mlynkova scored for Czechia

Canada outshot Czechia 42-15.

As they did against the Swiss in their opening Group A game, the Canadians took an early penalty with goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens calmly handling the two shots she faced from the Czech power play.

After Poulin's goal, the Czechs tied it at 1-1 with 1:33 remaining in the first period when a fluttering wrist shot from Mlynkova somehow squeezed through Desbiens' pads. Normal service resumed 25 seconds later as Fast's shot beat Skodova, who had both Emily Clark and Laura Stacey blocking her view.

Canada, which scored twice on the power play in its opening win over Switzerland, failed to convert three power-play opportunities in a choppy second period. A goal by Turnbull, off a Jocelyne Larocque shot from the point through traffic, was a welcome relief for the Canadians at 18:57 of the period.

Clark set up the play, digging the puck out of the corner and fed it back to Larocque, a veteran blue liner playing in her 168th game for Canada.

It was all the Canadians had to show in a period that saw them outshoot Czechia 14-4.

Canada made life difficult for itself in the third after Poulin's second goal, taking three straight minor penalties — and having to defend a 70-second five-on-three disadvantage.

Stacey padded the lead with 5:20 remaining with another shot through heavy traffic.

It marked the first time the two teams had ever met with Czechia becoming the 15th different country the Canadian women, who were playing game No. 426 in their history, have faced in international competition.

Czechia's Tereza Vanisova and Laskova were fresh off helping the Toronto Six capture the Isobel Cup in Premier Hockey Federation play.

The average age of the Czechs was 23, compared to 28 for Canada.

Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. downed Switzerland 9-1 in another Group A game with Abbey Murphy scoring a record seven seconds into the game. Abby Roque won the opening faceoff with the puck going to Murphy, who accelerated past forward Sinja Leemann and then drove around defenceman Nicole Vallario before roofing the puck from a sharp angle.

The previous fastest goal at the women's worlds was 13 seconds in 1994. Eight different Americans scored in the rout.

Finland blanked Germany 3-0 in Group B play Friday.

Canada opened Group A play with a 4-0 win over Switzerland on Wednesday while the Czechs edged Japan 2-1 in overtime Thursday. The Canadian women, who have never missed the podium in 21 prior trips to the tournament, are in search of their 13th world title.

The Czechs finished third at last year's worlds, their best-ever finish at the tournament. They lost 10-1 to the U.S, in the semifinals then beat Switzerland 4-2 in the third-place game.

Czechia lost 4-1 to the U.S. in the quarterfinals of the Beijing Olympics with the Americans needing three third-period goals to pull ahead. Czechia finished seventh and goaltender Klara Peslarova was named to the Olympic all-star team.

The Czechs are coached by former Canadian defenceman Carla MacLeod, who won Olympic gold in Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010.

MacLeod, who played for Canada from 2003 until her retirement in 2010, won one gold and three silver medals at the world championships. She went on to serve as an assistant coach for Mount Royal University and Japan from 2012 to 2014 before taking over the University of Calgary women's team in August 2021.

She was named Czechia's head coach in April 2022.

Canada faces Japan on Saturday.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2023.