U.S. beats Finland 4-1 at U18 women’s hockey worlds

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The U.S. defeated Finland 4-1 in an opener at the under-18 women’s world hockey championship Thursday behind goals by Abbey Murphy, Claravan Wieren, Audrey Wethington and Rory Guilday.

U.S. goaltender Skylar Vetter stopped nine of the 10 shots she faced. The Americans outshot Finland 51-10 and next play Russia on Friday.

Murphy opened the scoring for the U.S. on a power-play goal midway through the first period. Finland tied it just over a minute later with a power-play goal by Kiira Yrjanen. Wieren and Wethington then put the U.S. up 3-1. Guilday completed the scoring with a blue line shot past Kiia Lahtinen 37 seconds into the third period.

“I thought it was a really good start to the tournament for us,” U.S. coach Maura Crowell said. “It was a lot of people’s first time wearing the uniform on a big stage. We got better and better as the periods went on.”

In another Group A game in the eight-nation tournament, Canada beat Russia 3-2 in overtime on Nicole Gosling’s winner 3:12 into the extra period.

Elimination games begin Monday.