Canada held off Russia in the opening match at the IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship in Bratislava ©HHOF-IIHF Images

Defending champions Canada survived a real scare to beat Russia 3-2 after overtime in the opening game of the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women's World Championship in Slovakia's capital Bratislava.

Ann-Frederik Naud gave Canada a 1-0 lead in a first period that saw Russia struggle at times at Ice Rink Vlado Dzurilla – Hall 1.

Sarah Paul doubled the holders' advantage in the second period, but the Russians refused to allow Canada to run away with the match and there was a major fightback in the third as goals from Veronika Korzhakova and Kristi Shashkina tied the game at 2-2 and took it into overtime.

The Russians had a big chance to win the Group A clash when Korzhakova got the puck right in front of the net but, after Eve Gascon made the save, play broke to the other end.

Canadian defencewoman Nicole Gosling got into space on the left and duly converted a Jenna Buglioni cross-ice feed to secure her country victory.

Switzerland battled to an overtime win over Czech Republic in Group B ©HHOF-IIHF Images
Switzerland battled to an overtime win over Czech Republic in Group B ©HHOF-IIHF Images

Today's other match in Group A saw seven-time champions the United States defeat Finland 4-1.

In Group B, Switzerland overcame Czech Republic 2-1 after overtime before Sweden registered a 4-2 win over Slovakia.

Action is due to continue tomorrow.

In Group A, Finland face Canada prior to the US meeting Russia.

The Group B matches pit Czech Republic against Sweden, and Switzerland against Slovakia.