BURLINGTON – The 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship opened today with a pair of games at the C. Douglas Cairns Recreation Arena in South Burlington, Vermont. Sweden beat Slovakia, 5-1, in the early game, and then the Germans edged Switzerland, 3-2.
Slovakia-Sweden (0-1, 1-1, 0-3)
Erika Holst and Elin Holmlov each had a goal and assist for the victorious Swedes.
The game was unique in that it pitted the only two women in the tournament with local connections. Alica Mihalikova goes to Rice high school in Burlington while Klara Myren attends the University of Vermont, also located in Burlington. However, despite an impressive effort from the underdog Slovaks, the favoured Swedes pulled away for the win.
With the three points, Sweden is now in great shape to finish in the top two teams of Group B and qualify for the quarter-finals. The Slovaks, meanwhile, pretty much have to win their next game or face the challenge once again of playing in the Relegation Round.
Cairns Arena might not be the biggest hockey venue around, but the impressive crowd gave the barn a great atmosphere, and the teams put on an impressive show. The first period went almost scoreless as the Slovaks skated evenly with their opponents, checking well even though they didn’t generate much offense of their own.
A late power play for Damkronor, though, contributed to the game’s first goal at 18:51. Elin Holmlov’s high point shot found its way through traffic and over the glove of goalie Zuzana Tomcikova for a 1-0 Sweden lead.
The Slovaks tied the game early in the second with a power-play goal of their own, Iveta Karafiatova doing the scoring.
The Swedes kept skating, though, and were rewarded midway through when Annie Svedin gave her team another lead. The team had the better of play by a wide margin, and Tomcikova proved again why she was the Slovaks’ best player.
Sweden pulled away in the third period, though, scoring three unanswered goals from Holst, Johanna Olofsson, and Erica Uden-Johansson.
Switzerland-Germany (1-1, 1-2, 0-0)
Germany scored late in the first period on a goal from Monika Bittner at 16:49, but Julia Marty tied the game for the Swiss with only 14 seconds left. In the second, Germany pulled ahead 3-1 on goals from Sarah Weyand and Julia Zorn.
"The team did a great job, and our goalkeeper Viona Harrer was excellent," said German captain Susann Gotz. "I'm very happy, that we finally could beat Switzerland in an important tournament. This is a great start for our team.”
The persistent Swiss cut the lead in half with anothe rlate goal, this from Nicole Bullo. The third was scoreless despite an impressive attack by the Swiss to tie the game. Coach Rene Kammerer pulled his goalie, Sophie Anthamatten, in the final minute, but to no avail.
"We made too many mistakes, and their goalie played really well," noted Swiss captain Kathrin Lehmann of Viona Harrer. "We have to focus on our strengths for our next game, work on our speed and be smarter in front of the net."
Switzerland plays Slovakia tomorrow while Germany plays Sweden. Both games are at Cairns Arena.
“We played the first period very anxiously, but after some changes by our coaches we got into the game more," Harrer offered. "I believe we deserved to win.”