The United States began its quest for a second consecutive Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey with a 5-2 victory over Finland Thursday in a preliminary round game in Beijing — with defenseman Cayla Barnes, who was raised in Eastvale, assisting on the third U.S. goal.
The U.S. scored the first four goals, with Amanda Kessel and Alex Carpenter scoring two minutes, 23 seconds apart in the first period and Kendall Coyne Schofield scoring twice 1:04 apart in the second.
Barnes controlled a loose puck in the neutral zone and passed to Coyne Schofield just outside the Finnish blue line. Coyne Schofield skated to the right faceoff circle where she put a shot past Anni Keisala for her first goal 5:32 into the second period.
Susanna Tapani ended Maddie Rooney’s bid for a shutout with a power-play goal 3:15 into the third period. The U.S. regained a four-goal lead on Carpenter’s goal with 11:59 to play. Tapani scored a second power-play goal with 2:20 remaining and Finland having a sixth attacker on the ice after coach Pasi Mustonen pulled Keisala.
Tapani is a teammate of Carpenter and U.S. defenseman Megan Bozek with the Shenzhen, China-based KRS Vanke Rays of the Women’s Hockey League.
The U.S. outshot Finland 52-12. Rooney made 10 saves. Keisala made 47. The U.S. scored on one of four power-play opportunities, Finland two of three.
“I thought we played well,” coach Joel Johnson said after the U.S. improved to 7-0-0-0 in the opening game of Olympic play. “It’s always hard in the first game of any tournament, let alone the Olympics, but I was really impressed by our players. I give them a ton of credit. That second period was outstanding and I thought we really controlled the game from that point on.”
The U.S., Finland and the three other Group A teams will all advance to the quarterfinals along with the top three teams in the five-team Group B.
The U.S. is scheduled to resume Olympic play Saturday against ROC in a game set to begin at 5:10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time and will be televised by USA Network.
As part of the penalty against Russia for the Russian government tampering with lab data that it provided to the World Anti-Doping Agency as a condition of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency being reinstated, Russia will compete under the acronym “ROC” in the Olympics after the name of the Russian Olympic Committee although the name of the committee itself in full cannot be used to refer to the delegation.
Barnes is among 11 players on the 23-player U.S. roster who played for the team in the 2018 Olympics.
Barnes, then 19, was the youngest U.S. hockey player in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games and the shortest at 5 feet, 1 inch tall.
The U.S. did not allow a goal when Barnes was on the ice in its five games in the 2018 Olympics, which concluded with a 3-2 shootout victory over Canada for its first gold medal in women’s hockey since the inaugural 1998 competition.
Barnes played for the Los Angeles Junior Kings and Lady Ducks before attending New Hampton School, a boarding school in New Hampton, New Hampshire. She helped lead the Huskies to the first New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Division I championship in 2017.
Barnes was also a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship and selected to the tournament all-star team, and the silver medal at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
Barnes is among four players on the U.S. team with remaining college eligibility. Barnes has two seasons of college eligibility remaining and has said she intends to resume play for Boston College next season.