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Fillier’s 3-point effort leads Canada in 5-0 win over Japan at worlds

Canada next faces archrival United States on Monday
Canada forward Sarah Nurse (20) and Japan defender Ayaka Hitosato (4) chase a puck into the corner during first period IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship hockey action in Brampton, Ont., on Saturday, April 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Despite the dominant effort, it wasn’t the easiest game for a team of Canada’s calibre.

Sarah Fillier had two goals and an assist as Canada earned a 5-0 win over Japan on Saturday at the world women’s hockey championship. Canada put 60 shots on net, making it nearly impossible for Japan to get out of its own zone for much of the night.

“Those games can be difficult to play in,” said Canada head coach Troy Ryan. “You can kind of get individual and I don’t think we did.

“I think there was little spells where we did and I think actually what personally stopped it is every time we got individual, we ended up turning the puck over and taking the penalty as a result of it and that kind of was the thing we needed to snap us out of it a little bit.”

Brianne Jenner, Sarah Nurse, with a goal and an assist, and Natalie Spooner also scored for Canada in front of an announced crowd of 3,755 at the CAA Centre. Emerance Maschmeyer made 11 saves in her first start of the tournament.

“It was nice to get my first game under the belt, for sure,” Maschmeyer said. “Obviously, my team played a really great game.

“I felt that our habits were excellent and sometimes it could be hard to play a full 60 (minutes) with great habits when you have so much offensive time but I felt our team really did that.”

It was just the second time the two teams had met since 2000, with the last meeting being a 9-0 Canada win at last year’s worlds.

Canada improved to 8-0 all-time against Japan. The Canadians have outscored Japan 96-0 dating back to the inaugural women’s world championship in 1990.

Miyuu Masuhara stopped 31 shots for Japan, while Riko Kawaguchi turned away 24 shots in relief. The Japanese were outscored 9-2 in consecutive losses — to the U.S. and Czechia — entering Saturday’s contest.

“We were stopped at a lot of first shots, the goalie played really well,” said Japan head coach Yuji Iizuka through a translator. “We battled really hard.”

Canada next faces archrival United States on Monday in Group A play. The two have met in the gold-medal final of the previous two world championships and 2022 Beijing Olympics, with Canada coming away with gold each time.

With Canada having missed on a number of scoring opportunities around the net on Saturday, Nurse pointed to her squad’s execution in front — or lack thereof — as something to improve on for Monday.

“I think definitely our net-front play,” Nurse said. “We’ve been pretty good with our net-front presence, taking away the goalie’s eyes but when the pucks are laying there, we gotta figure out ways to get it to the back of the net.

” … We have some of the best net-front players in the world so I’m sure it’s gonna come together.”

Blayre Turnbull scored the opening goal 1:21 into the game but it was waved off after a video review, in which officials ruled that Laura Stacey was occupying the crease.

Marie-Philip Poulin used some slick puck handling to weave through Japan’s defence but after losing slight control of the puck, regained it just beyond the net and found Jenner in the slot for the game’s opening goal 3:56 in. It was Jenner’s first marker of the tournament.

Fillier doubled Canada’s lead 8:03 in when she scored from the slot on a rebound from a missed Renata Fast shot.

Nurse got things going in the second period when she tipped in an Erin Ambrose point shot at 3:34 on the power play. The goal came 34 seconds into the power play after Rui Ukita was called for hooking.

Spooner joined in on the action with 1:25 remaining in the frame. Jamie Lee Rattray sent a cross-ice pass to the streaking Spooner, who tapped the puck off the post and it bounced off Kawaguchi and in.

Canada outshot Japan 43-5 through 40 minutes of play, with four of Japan’s shots coming in the second period.

After a first period that saw Japan struggle to get the puck out of its own zone, Maschmeyer was forced to stand tall on a couple of occasions in the middle frame. One of those was a 2-on-1 opportunity in which Ukita sent a pass across to Remi Koyama whose shot was turned away.

Fillier made it 5-0 with 3:19 remaining when she buried the puck home from the side of the net.

Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press

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