BUDAPEST, Hungary - Taylar Cianfarano (Oswego, N.Y.) notched three goals, Lexie Laing (Marblehead, Mass.) scored twice, Maddie Rolfes (West Des Moines, Iowa) collected a pair of assists and goaltender Erin O'Neil (Minnetonka, Minn.) finished with 13 saves to help the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team defeat Sweden, 7-0, in its final preliminary-round contest of the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women's World Championship here today.
Team USA (3-0-0-0) clinched Group B with the victory and earned a bye into Saturday's (March 29) semifinal round. The U.S. will learn its opponent following tomorrow's (March 27) quarterfinals.
The U.S. and Sweden traded chances in the early portion of the contest before Cianfarano found the back of the net at 15:17 to give Team USA a 1-0 advantage. Skating in on a two-on-one, Cianfarano chose to shoot and beat Swedish goaltender Julia Aberg with a laser into the top corner of the net.
The United States came out strong in the middle frame and managed to double its lead on a goal by Maliya Rodgers (Minnetonka, Minn.) at 1:59 when she worked her way out from behind the net and put a pinpoint shot past Aberg. The U.S. continued to pressure and eventually struck for three quick goals in the closing minutes of the period. Laing made it 3-0 when she ripped a low shot past Aberg at 14:47. Sophie Skarzynski (Wilmette, Ill.) increased the lead to 4-0 with a marker off a faceoff at 17:07, and Cianfarano notched her second goal of the game just 30 seconds later when she picked a corner to give Team USA a five-goal cushion after two.
Laing gathered her second tally of the night when she wheeled into the offensive zone and buried a shot past Aberg's blocker at 11:12 of the third period, and Cianfarano completed the hat trick with just 17 seconds remaining in the game.
Brooke Ahbe (Centennial, Colo.), Sydney Baldwin (Shorewood, Minn.), Jincy Dunne (O'Fallon, Mo.), Megan Keller (Farmington, Mich.), Abby Roque (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.) Melissa Samoskevich (Sandy Hook, Conn.) and Baylee Wellhausen (Williams Bay, Wis.) all recored single assists for the U.S.
Notes: Taylar Cianfarano was named U.S. Player of the Game ... In addition to her three goals, Cianfarano also led the U.S. in faceoffs (17-of-21) and shots on goal (12), and tied for the team lead with a plus-5 rating ... Reagan Carey (Colorado Springs, Colo.), USA Hockey's director of women's hockey, is serving as the general manager of Team USA at the 2014 IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship ... Jeff Kampersal (Pennington, N.J.), head women's ice hockey coach at Princeton University, is the head coach of the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team for the 2013-14 season ... The assistant coaches are Courtney Kennedy (Somerville, Mass.), associate women's ice hockey coach at Boston College, and Katie Lachapelle (Winthrop, Mass.), assistant women's ice hockey coach at Boston University. The team was selected following the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team Winter Camp, held Dec. 27-31, at Schwan's Super Rink in Blaine, Minn. The IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship is being played for the seventh time and will include teams from Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Japan, Russia, Sweden and the United States. Team USA captured gold in the first two years of the tournament (2008, 2009) and again in 2011 before winning the silver medal in 2010, 2012 and 2013.