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Fillier's hat trick propels Canada to semi win over Swiss, berth to gold medal showdown versus U.S.

BRAMPTON, Ont. -- The 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Calgary was touted as the “coming out party” for Georgetown, Ont., native Sarah Fillier, then 20 years old and lauded as Canada’s future star player. Two years later, Canadian fans can confirm: the future is now. In front of 4,235 fans at CAA Centre, Fillier, now 22, collected three goals in her team’s 5-1 semifinal victory over Switzerland to lead her team into Sunday’s gold medal match against (who else?) the United States.


Canada forward Sarah Fillier, middle, celebrates with defender Renata Fast and forward Sarah Nurse after scoring a goal during the second period of a 5-1 semifinal win over Switzerland on Saturday at the women's hockey world championship in Brampton, Ont. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)
Canada forward Sarah Fillier, middle, celebrates with defender Renata Fast and forward Sarah Nurse after scoring a goal during the second period of a 5-1 semifinal win over Switzerland on Saturday at the women's hockey world championship in Brampton, Ont. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

“I think it’s going to be super physical, fast-skilled,” Fillier said in anticipation of the 21st all-time gold medal match-up between the two North American superpowers in 22 tournaments. “It’s not hard to get up for this game, and I’m sure they’re saying the same thing over there. We’re super excited to be able to play for a gold medal in front of Brampton.” Fresh off a mini-scare in the quarterfinals, in which Canada needed overtime to get past Sweden, the host country was stymied by its Swiss opponents to start the game. Despite outshooting Switzerland 14-2 over the opening 20 minutes, Canada couldn’t solve goalie Andrea Braendli.


Laura Stacey, Kristin O’Neill and Blayre Turnbull were all turned away on good opportunities, and an apparent goal with five minutes left in the opening frame was disallowed because of a high stick.

A turning point came late in the first period when Swiss captain Lara Stalder was assessed a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for checking Sarah Nurse from behind. “I didn’t think the hit was as bad as they thought, but you know we definitely need her in the lineup,” Switzerland coach Colin Muller would tell reporters after the game. Nevertheless, the Swiss kept the Canadians at bay even as the major penalty carried over into the second period, although Stacey took a minor penalty of her own to reduce her team’s power play time by two minutes. Finally, just past the midway mark of the first period, Fillier had the ice breaker, unleashing a wrister from outside the faceoff dot and under the crossbar to open the scoring. A wave of relief could be felt among the flag-waving hometown crowd when the goal-less deadlock was broken. Fillier struck again just six minutes later after Natalie Spooner circled the net, finding her teammate with a cross-crease pass that Fillier buried. Canada carried a 2-0 lead heading into the second intermission. The momentum continued to start the final stanza. Jamie Lee Rattray of Kanata, Ont., struck on the powerplay as Alina Muller had been called for delay of game, puck over glass. With Canada comfortably in front and the scoreboard clock ticking just above 15 minutes of elapsed time, Fillier found an uncontested puck in the middle of the ice, in the slot. Her initial shot was saved by Braendli, but she deposited the rebound for the hat trick goal, necessitating a shower of ball caps and headwear onto the ice from the faithful fans in the stands. Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped eight of nine shots that came her way in the Canadian net. The lone blemish was a powerplay goal off the stick of Alina Muller after Canada was called for too many players on the ice. Rebecca Johnston of Sudbury, Ont., capped off the scoring with 0.8 seconds left in the game. In anticipation of Sunday’s gold medal showdown, Desbiens was asked how Canada would avoid the late goal scored by the United States in Easter Monday’s preliminary round game that forced overtime. “It doesn’t really matter, it’s a new game, it’s a new day,” she said. “As a goalie, you just want to stop the next shot. As a team, we’ve put that one behind us and we move forward.” Canada heads into the gold medal game with a 12-9 lead over the United States for all-time women's worlds tournaments.

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