Czech Republic – Finland 4-3 (2-2, 1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0)
BUDAPEST – The Czech Republic and Finland got the party started in a big way at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship, playing out an exciting opener that ended in a 4-3 shootout victory for the Czechs.
Down 3-2 in the third period, Finland tied the game up just under eight minutes in as Czech goaltender Klara Peslarova gave up a rebound and Sara Sakkinen was able to jump on it for the goal.
The two teams then played out the period and the extra frame, with neither one able to steal a win. It fell to forward Dominika Laskova, who scored the only goal of the shootout, and Peslarova who shut down all three Finnish shooters to seal a big opening day win for the Czech Republic.
“It was a good start for us,” said forward Vendula Pribylova, who celebrated her 18th
birthday with an assist and Best Player honours. “We were down twice early on but found our game and got the win.”
Matilda Nillsson scored the tournament’s first goal just over two and a half minutes in, intercepting the puck in front of the Czech zone and beating Klara Peslarova blocker-side.
The Czechs answered with a good effort by forward Vendula Prybilova to gain possession in the Finnish zone and find her linemate Aneta Ledlova alone in front for the tying goal. The team had to answer again after Finland’s Emma Nuutinen scored on a two-on-one, this time it was Barbora Patockova jumping on the loose puck in front of the net to knot things up at 2-2.
A minute into the second period the Czech Republic got its first lead of the game with a goal from Katerina Bukolska, assisted by Dominika Vopravilova. Then the focus shifted to defence as Peslarova was called upon to make a series of good saves to protect her team’s lead going into the final period. While she did give up the tying goal, she made amends with a shutdown performance the rest of the way.
“(Peslarova) played excellent today, she came up for us when we needed her to,” said captain Aneta Tejralova.
“It was a tough loss, but we battled hard and we just need to take the positives from this and move on,” said Nuutinen.
The Czech Republic will next take on Japan on Monday afternoon, while Finland will be in tough against defending champions Canada.
Sweden – Hungary 5-1 (1-0, 2-0, 2-1)
Sweden looks right on track for another strong tournament, overcoming a plucky Hungarian squad backed by a vocal crowd at the Budapest Icecenter to win 5-1.
Denise Husak Asp had a pair of goals and Sarah Berglind kept the Hungarians out of the net until midway through the third period, surrendering one goal on 29 shots.
Hungary faced a tough test with its opening game against the 2013 bronze medallists. The Hungarians were on their heels early on, giving up the game’s first goal to Husak Asp, with Jessica Adolfsson on the assist.
But the goal calmed down the Hungarians, who were able to generate more scoring chances as the period wore on, the best one coming on a breakaway by Lili Pinter that sailed wide of the net. Still the team was unable to solve goaltender Sarah Berglind and went into the first intermission down 1-0.
The Swedes got some more breathing room twelve minutes into the second period, thanks to a point shot from Frida Gradin that found the back of the net. From then on Sweden was able to play calm and confident with Berglind keeping Hungary from any serious comeback attempt.
“We did good today, we came out focused and with a lot of energy,” said forward Victoria Samuelsson. “Our goaltender was excellent, she stopped everything and helped us out when we really needed it.”
Sweden’s next test will come on Monday evening against Russia, while Hungary will face Team USA. Click here for scores, stats, and photos.