Breaking the ice for Team USA, Sun Valley’s Hilary Knight scored late in the first period today and sparked the favored Americans to a 4-0 shutout over Japan in the quarterfinals of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship tournament at Espoo, Finland.

Knight, 29, was poised on the doorstep and corralled a rebound for the first Team USA goal with less than four minutes left in the first, after a shot by Shelly Picard of Taunton, Mass. The Americans had out-shot Japan 22-2 in the first.

The Sun Valley right wing has now scored a goal in each of Team USA’s five wins during the 10-team tournament. Team USA ended up out-shooting Japan by a 51-10 margin.

Other USA goal scorers were Cayla Barnes of Eastvale, Ca., Dani Cameranesi of Plymouth, Minn. and Kendall Coyne Schofield of Palos Heights, Ill.

Team USA “Player of the Game” was the winning goaltender, Maddie Rooney of Andover, Minn., who turned in her second shutout with 10 saves.

Head USA coach Bob Corkum from Salisbury, Mass. said, “We have to give credit to Team Japan, they played us incredibly hard and did some really good things out there.”

With the victory, Team USA advances into Saturday’s semi-final game against the winner of today’s meeting between Russia and Switzerland. NHL Network will televise Saturday morning’s semi-final.

Corkum added in the Team USA post-game press release, “We are excited for the opportunity to play in the semi-finals and will look to improve upon this performance against our next opponent.”

Four-time defending world champion Team USA has now outscored opponents 31-4 in five wins at worlds. In last three shutout wins over Switzerland, Russia and Japan, Team USA has outscored its three foes 22-0 and outshot them by a 152-28 margin.

The gold medal game is scheduled for Sunday morning.

Email the writer: sports@mtexpress.com

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