BAD TÖLZ – Russian champions Tornado Moscow will stay at the top of the european women hockey world for the third straight year, with an unblemished record in the final round of the 2014 European Women’s Champions Cup.
It is the fourth EWCC title for Tornado, which has cemented itself as one of the world’s premier professional women’s clubs. They have tied Swedish club AIK Solna, which won the first four EWCC tournaments (2005-2008) and finished second this year.
"We wanted to win to win this tournament again for sure. Although it is the 4th time we always have in our mind that it is more difficult to defend the title as to win it for the first time, because all the teams are extra motivated to beat us,” said Tornado Manager Olga Votolovskaya. “But we have been prepared for that very well. Our special thanks goes to Zuzana Tomcikova and Kelley Steadman, who made the big difference for us this time.”
The combination of Steadman, Iya Gavrilova and Anna Shokhina combined for 17 points in three games, with Steadman leading the charge with five goals and one assist in that span. Tomcikova recorded a 1.00 GAA and a 96.55 save percentage, allowing just two goals in the whole tournament as her team went undefeated.
The bronze medal goes to Finland as Espoo Blues lost on Sunday 3-1 in the Scandinavian derby versus AIK Solna. Host ESC Planegg-Würmtal finished fourth.
Although Tornado again won all three games, it wasn’t smooth sailing the whole way. The Espoo Blues game in particular was hard work for head coach Alexei Chistyakov’s team. After being shut out by the Blues through two periods, it was Kelley Steadman, the 2011 World Champion with team USA, who rescue her team with three goals in the last 20 minutes for the 3-1 victory.
"We wanted to win the tournament. This was a realistic idea as we saw the games here,” said Espoo Blues coach Sami Haapanen. “The opener against Planegg we already played very well. The match against Tornado my girls did fantastic, we tied them until the last period and could have scored before several times ourselves. Only some bad minutes of our team made Moscow finally win this game.”
With Planegg defeating AIK Solna in a wild shoot-out 4:3 at Saturday, things looked good for a potential second medal for a German team in this competition (OSC Berlin won bronze in their home tournament in 2010).
"First, we really wanted to win a medal here. Second, me and the team wanted to face eye to eye to the other teams, not hide otherselves,” said Planegg coach Brian Ashton. “We learned that we still have to improve to be on the same level as the other top European teams. The success against Solna showed us that we are on the right way, the players earned a lot of self-confidence with this game. The performance of my team made me proud as they all played on their highest level.”
But after losing versus Espoo on Friday, Planegg needed a victory from the Finnish champion on Sunday in the derby versus AIK Solna. With only one second to go in the second period of this game, Espoo scored the game’s first goal. But in the last period, Espoo couldn’t produce any more offence while AIK scored three to claim silver in the tournament.
"We wanted to run for a medal. Of course we tried to get gold, but we knew that Tornado will be strong,” AIK Solna coach Ylva Lindberg. “Today we showed great character to comeback in the last period. Yesterday against Planegg we did not play as well as we can, but it was at least very important to tie the game after 60 minutes. Tornado started too fast for us, we weren't prepared to play at that speed."
Sparked by Steadman’s opening goal in the final game against the hosts, Tornado scored three more times to end the tournament undefeated. She was selected as the Directorate Top Forward for the tournament, while Tomcikova and Planegg’s Kathrin Lehmann claimed Top Goaltender and Top Defenceman honours respectively.