Finland – Czech Republic 3-5 (2-2, 0-0, 1-3)
HEINOLA – The Czech Republic eliminated hosts Finland 5-3 in the 2013 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship and will advance to the tournament semi-finals. The Czechs stormed back from an early 2-0 deficit to score three unanswered goals, setting up a rematch with the United States.
“We played with heart today,” said Tereza Vanisova, who had a goal and an assist and was named Best Player for the Czechs. “There was a little panic when we fell behind 2-0, but we stuck with our game plan and when we got the first goal everything got easier for us from then on.”
With the two teams tied 2-2 heading into the third period, the Czech offence broke out for three goals. First it was Samantha Kolowratova who fired a soft wrist shot from the top of the right circle, the puck making its way through a sea of legs and past the screened Finland goaltender.
The Czechs followed up with another marker, coming off a rebound surrendered by goaltender Eveliina Suonpaa to forward Vendula Pribylova. Then with under seven minutes remaining the Czechs notched a great powerplay goal as Klara Chmelova found captain Aneta Terjalova open at the side of the net with a great pass. Terjalova wasted no time and roofed the puck in.
The Finns emptied their net and responded with a goal of their own, but were unable to get another score and time ran out for the hosts.
“We tried to play stronger defensively and create some breakaway chances for us,” said Czech head coach Jan Fidrmuc. “We were able to keep going after being down 2-0 and still stay strong in defence.”
In the first period, two successive penalties against the Czechs gave Finland a chance to get some early pressure on goaltender Barbora Dvorakova. Just over five minutes into the game Venla Kotkaslahti scored the opening goal, batting in a rebound as Dvorakova was trying to find the puck during a scramble in front of the net.
The Finns struck again soon after, when Anna Kilponen fired a soft wrist shot to the net from the blue line. Sanni Hakala was waiting in front of the net with teammate Emmi Rakkolainen and only one Czech defenceman. The two Finnish forwards were able to outmuscle the defender to the puck, and Hakala scored to make it 2-0.
With the momentum on Finland’s side, it seemed the Czechs would be headed for an early exit from the tournament. But after two successive penalties, a great individual effort by Aneta Ledlova to bring the puck out from behind the net got her in place to fire it past Finnish goaltender Eveliina Suonpaa for the Czech Republic’s first goal.
Then, with the Czechs on yet another penalty kill late in the first period, Tereza Vanisova stole the puck away at center ice and outskated the Finland defenceman. In an effort to keep her balance she ended up crashing into the Finnish goal, but not before getting the puck past the goal line for the short-handed score to tie the game 2-2.
It was Finland’s turn to take trips to the penalty box in the second period. Despite the team being on the penalty kill for a total of eight minutes, Suonpaa made 13 saves in the frame and kept her team level with the Czechs. But the lack of offensive production caught up with Finland in the third, and the 2013 hosts will go away from Heinola empty handed.
The surprising Czechs, who were one goal away from the relegation round in their final preliminary round win over Russia, will face tournament favourites the United States. A win against the three-time women’s U18 gold medallists will be a tall order – the U.S. defeated the Czechs 10-0 in the preliminary round – but the team will be in the hunt for a medal and will look to pull one more rabbit out of the hat in 2013.
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Sweden – Hungary 4-0 (3-0, 0-0, 1-0)
HEINOLA – Sweden is rounding into top form just in time for a medal run at the 2013 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship. Last year’s bronze medallists defeated Hungary 4-0 to advance to the tournament semi-final game against the Canadians.
“Our game plan was to play a solid defence and keep the puck as much as possible.” “There’s a lot of emotions in a game like this and we hope we’ll be prepared for a tough semi-final against Canada, but we’re excited to play them.”
Five penalties against the Hungarians put the team on the defensive for much of the first period. Monika Molnar was whistled for interference only 12 seconds into the game, and just when Hungary had finished killing off the penalty Sweden’s Madeleine Hall shot the puck at goaltender Aniko Nemeth, who made the initial save but couldn’t corral the rebound in time to stop Anneli Ekstedt from it in the back of the net.
Just over eight minutes later the Swedes struck again, scoring again off a loose puck in front of the net, the goal coming from Maja Jakobsson. Amanda Lindstrom added another before the end of the period to put her team up 3-0.
The Swedes closed out the victory in the third period with a goal from Veronica Hummelgard, who shot the puck on net and got her own rebound to seal a 4-0 win.
“We’re working well together and we’re having fun too,” said defenceman Linnea Hedin, who was selected as Best Player for Sweden. “Our team chemistry is coming together, we performed well today but the early goals definitely took some of the pressure off.”
Sweden will have a tough task ahead in the semi-final against defending champions Canada. Hungary will compete in the placement game against the losing team in the other quarter final between Finland and the Czech Republic.
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Russia – Germany 5-3 (3-0, 1-2, 1-1)
VIERUMÄKI – Russia has won the first game of the relegation round against Germany 5-3. Tatyana Kitayeva scored the game-winning goal as the Russians withstood a furious comeback attempt by the Germans.
Valeria Pavlova, Anna Shokhina, and Natalya Kovalyova scored for the Russians in the first period. Following Kitayeva’s goal early in the second, Nicola Eisenshmid finally answered for the Germans two minutes later, and a score by Katja-Lisa Engel closed the gap to two goals heading into the final frame.
Bernadette Karpf got the key early goal for Germany in the third period to cut Russia’s lead to 4-3 and entertain hopes of a dramatic comeback. But even though Russia gave the team golden opportunities by taking three consecutive penalties following the goal, Germany was unable to find the back of the net. With the German goaltender pulled, Yelena Dergachova scored the empty net goal to seal the game for Russia.
The teams will face off on Friday in the second relegation round game in Vierumäki.
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