Russia sweeps in Sweden

Recaps from the international break

13.02.2017
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Russian forward Kirill Kaprizov, captain at the recent World Juniors, also shines with the men’s national team in the Sweden Hockey Games. Photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images

Beside the Women’s Final Olympic Qualification, many tournaments and exhibition games were played by men’s, women’s and junior national teams and ended during the weekend.

Russia, Switzerland win top events

In the Euro Hockey Tour Russia succeeded by winning all three games of the Sweden Hockey Games and winning the Euro Hockey Tour before the last tournament in the Czech Republic.

The Russians played their first game on home ice in St. Petersburg beating Finland 2-1 before heading to Gothenburg where they won 4-2 against host Sweden and with the same score against the Czechs to claim first place.

The other teams had one win against each other with the Czechs claiming second place after improving their head-to-head goal difference following a 7-1 win against Finland. Sweden finished in third place.

Kirill Kaprizov, who captained his country to World Junior bronze recently, was Russia’s scoring leader with three goals and four points followed by Anatoli Golyshev.

Russia sent men’s teams to two tournaments. While the national selection succeeded in Gothenburg, the B-team, labelled as “Olympic selection”, participated in the Slovakia Cup where it finished in third place. Host Slovakia beat the Russians 6-2 in the semi-final of the opening day after Switzerland had edged Belarus 4-2 in the earlier game.

Switzerland, which also travelled to Nitra with a young team including many who played their first international games, surprised the host in the final game. Damien Riat and Dave Sutter scored two early goals and the Swiss defended the lead for a 4-3 win to claim the trophy. Defenceman Sutter, who was born in Cameroon but moved to Switzerland as a kid, led the tournament in scoring with two goals and three points, same as Slovakia’s Martin Gernat and Russian forward Maxim Kazakov.

Three Euro Ice Hockey Challenge events

The Euro Ice Hockey Challenge consisting of lower-seeded top-division teams as well as Division I nations organized three tournaments during the February international break.

Austria won its tournament in the new arena in Graz on home ice. Raphael Herburger scored the 2-1 overtime winner against Slovakia’s B-team to open the tournament before beating eventual runner-up Norway 2-1 in overtime as well. Lukas Haudum tied the game for Austria with 4:46 left in regulation time and Manual Ganahl scored the game-winner in a shootout. The Austrians sealed the tournament win after beating France 3-1 on the last day. Both goalies played outstanding with Bernhard Starkbaum having a 95.6 save percentage in two games and Lukas Herzog reaching 97.0 in his game.

Korea hosted its EIHC tournament in Goyang in the Seoul region where it hosted a Division I tournament three years ago. It was a tight race with Denmark, Hungary and Korea each winning two games and earning six points while Japan was winless. The Danes started with a 4-2 loss to host Korea in front of a full house with 2,207 fans but bounced back with wins against Japan (6-1) and Hungary (5-1). Denmark needed to beat Hungary with a margin of at least three goals to win the tournament on the last day and did so. Julian Jacobsen scored the 4-1 goal on a two-man advantage in the third period that won his team the tournament, the fifth goal went into the empty net.

The event in Poland included two countries that were promoted to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship one year ago in the same city, Katowice. Slovenia did its job right winning all three games against Poland, Italy and Ukraine with 16-5 goals. Jan Urbas was most successful with four goals and nine points followed by his teammate Miha Verlic scored three goals and notched five points.

Finland wins first World Juniors test

The 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship is over but with a Five Nations Tournament for U19 teams the first test for the class of 1998 has begun in the Swiss town of Zuchwil. It was an outcome with opposite signs. Finland, which went from defending champion to relegation-round participant a few weeks ago in Canada, won the tournament with a 3-1 record. Host Switzerland, which made the final round in Canada and was not far from a quarter-final upset against eventual champion USA, finished in last place with zero points and a 1-19 goal record.

The Finns suffered a 5-4 overtime loss to the Czechs on the first day but then bounced back with wins over eventual runner-up Sweden (4-0), Germany (5-2) and Switzerland (5-1) to move to first place. Jere Innala led the tournament in goal scoring with five markers, his teammate Jerry Turkulainen also had five points (3+2). Sweden’s Oskar Steen was the scoring leader of the tournament with three goals and nine points followed by two teammates, Jesper Boqvist (4+4) and defenceman Gustav Lindstrom (1+6).

The two Nordic countries also had the statistically best-performing goaltenders. Swedish netminder Tim Hultstrand had a 93.75 save percentage in his two starts, Finland’s Niilo Halonen reached 93.1 in his three games.

U.S. U18 team succeeds

The United States’ centralized U18 national team succeeded at the Five Nations Tournament in Sundsvall. After three regulation-time wins against Finland (8-1), the Czech Republic (3-1) and Russia (5-3) the Americans played host Sweden for tournament win on the last day.

The Swedish juniors were also without a loss and provided a tough challenge in front of 1,398 fans. Marcus Sylvegard tied up an American lead after a Nate Knoepke goal for the 1-1 score after the first period. The Americans improved and made it a 3-1 lead with goals from Quinn Hughes and Brady Tkachuk but the Swedes came back. Jacob Peterson cut the deficit before the next intermission. The Americans ran into penalty trouble early in the third and with two men more on the ice Erik Brannstrom tied the game and Lucas Elvenes gave the home team a 4-3 lead. But the Americans fought back. Josh Norris tied the game with a shorthanded goal with three seconds left in regulation time and it was him who also scored the game-winner in the sixth shootout round.

Norris led the tournament in scoring with three goals and seven points followed by three teammates – Grant Mismash (3+3), Hughes (3+3) and Evan Barratt (1+5) – and the top goals scorer of the event, Czech forward Filip Zadina (4+1). Of the goalies with at least two games Sweden’s Adam Ahman reached the best numbers with a 95.74 save percentage followed by Czech Jiri Patera (94.34) and Finland’s Lassi Lehtinen (94.03).

U18 Worlds host Slovakia also played host to the annual Vlado Dzurilla Tournament in Piestany and won it. After blanking Belarus 5-0 on the opening day it became more difficult in the other games. The Slovaks beat Switzerland 2-1 thanks to Jozef Balaz’s game-winner with 4:39 left to play and in the last game they beat Germany by the same score thanks to second-period goals from Filip Krivosik and Adam Liska.

Germany’s Dominik Bokk was named Best Forward and led the tournament in scoring with two goals and four points followed by his teammate Mike Fisher and Krivosik with three points (2+1). Slovakia’s Daniel Pavlicko was named Best Goaltender and Switzerland’s Tim Berni Best Defenceman.

Latvia, which will also compete in the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Slovakia, won against the Division I competition in the Four Nations Tournament in Denmark. Already after two days and two wins against Denmark (4-2) and Norway (5-3) the Latvians were known as tournament winner. The 2-0 loss against Austria on the last day didn’t change that. Host Denmark finished in second place with a 2-1 record.

Hungary won a Four Nations Tournament on home ice in Budapest. In the tournament-clinching game against France Mark Almasi scored the game-winning goal for the home team. Slovenia and Italy finished in third and fourth place respectively.

Finnish women win

Eight women’s teams from Europe and Asia were busy in the Final Olympic Qualification where Switzerland and Japan earned the last two tickets for PyeongChang 2018.

Three more teams, who are among the top-5 women’s hockey nations and thus already qualified, played each other in the Euro Hockey Tour event in Finland that was cut down to three teams due to Germany’s participation in the Olympic Qualification.

The three teams played five exhibition games. Although not every team had the same number of games the outcome was clear. Home team Finland was the strongest team winning all four games against its neighbouring rivals. It beat Sweden 3-1 thanks to two Saila Saari goals and in the second game 3-2 after Susanna Tapani’s overtime goal.

Then it faced little trouble against the Russian selection winning the games 7-2 and 7-1. Sweden finished in second place after blanking Russia 4-0, which was missing several key players who competed in the Winter Universiade where the country won both the men’s and women’s ice hockey tournaments.

Jenni Hiirikoski led the tournament both in goals (3) and points (9) followed by her teammates Tapani (4+2) and Petra Nieminen (2+4).

Noora Raty, who hasn’t played in an IIHF tournament since the Sochi 2014 Olympics, played three of Finland’s games. She plays her club hockey for Pyry Nokia in the third men’s division. The three Swedish goaltenders who saw ice time had the best save percentage in the tournament: Lovisa Berndtsson with a shutout win against Russia while Sarah Berglund (92.11) and Sara Grahn (91.89) kept the Swedes in the game against the offensive firepower or Finland.

MARTIN MERK

MEN'S TOURNAMENTS

Euro Hockey Tour - Sweden Hockey Games
9 Feb.: Czech Rep. v Sweden 2-5
9 Feb.: Russia v Finland 2-1
11 Feb.: Finland v Czech Rep. 1-7
11 Feb.: Sweden v Russia 2-4
12 Feb.: Russia v Czech Rep. 4-2
12 Feb.: Sweden v Finland 2-3

Standings: 1. Russia 9, 2. Czech Rep. 3, 3. Sweden 3, 4. Finland 3: v
Standings EHT: 1. Russia 24, 2. Czech Rep. 12, 3. Sweden 9, 4. Finland 9: v

Slovakia Cup
10 Feb.: Switzerland v Belarus 4-2
10 Feb.: Slovakia v Russia B 6-2
11 Feb.: Russia B v Belarus 4-1
11 Feb.: Slovakia v Switzerland 3-4

Standings: 1. Switzerland, 2. Slovakia, 3. Russia B, 4. Belarus

Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Austria
9 Feb.: France v Norway 1-4
9 Feb.: Austria v Slovakia B 2-1 OT
10 Feb.: Slovakia B v France 1-3
10 Feb.: Austria v Norway 2-1 SO
11 Feb.: Norway v Slovakia B 2-1
11 Feb.: Austria v France 3-1

Standings: 1. Austria 7, 2. Norway 7, 3. France 3, 4. Slovakia B 1

Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Korea
5 Feb.: Hungary v Japan 2-1
5 Feb.: Korea v Denmark 4-2
6 Feb.: Japan v Denmark 1-6
6 Feb.: Korea v Hungary 2-5
7 Feb.: Denmark v Hungary 5-1
7 Feb.: Korea v Japan 3-0

Standings: 1. Denmark 6, 2. Hungary 6, 3. Korea 6, 4. Japan 0

Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Poland
6 Feb.: Italy v Ukraine 3-4 OT
6 Feb.: Poland v Slovenia 1-4
7 Feb.: Poland v Ukraine 3-2 SO
7 Feb.: Slovenia v Italy 6-2
8 Feb.: Ukraine v Slovenia 2-6
8 Feb.: Poland v Italy 4-1

Standings: 1. Slovenia 9, 2. Poland 5, 3. Ukraine 3, 4. Italy 1

U19 TOURNAMENT

Five Nations Tournament
7 Feb.: Czech Rep. v Finland 5-4 OT
7 Feb.: Switzerland v Sweden 0-6
8 Feb.: Sweden v Czech Rep. 6-3
8 Feb.: Germany v Switzerland 5-0
9 Feb.: Czech Rep. v Germany 4-2
9 Feb.: Finland v Sweden 4-0
10 Feb.: Germany v Finland 2-5
10 Feb.: Switzerland v Czech Rep. 0-3
11 Feb.: Sweden v Germany 7-2
11 Feb.: Finland v Switzerland 5-1

Standings: 1. Finland 10, 2. Sweden 9, 3. Czech Rep. 8, 4. Germany 3, 5. Switzerland 0

U18 TOURNAMENTS

Five Nations Tournament in Sweden
8 Feb.: USA v Finland 8-1
8 Feb.: Sweden v Czech Rep. 4-3 SO
9 Feb.: Finland v Czech Rep. 3-2
9 Feb.: Sweden v Russia 3-1
10 Feb.: Finland v Russia 1-6
10 Feb.: Czech Rep. v USA 1-3
11 Feb.: Russia v USA 3-5
11 Feb.: Sweden v Finland 3-1
12 Feb.: Sweden v USA 4-5 SO
12 Feb.: Czech Rep. v Russia 4-0

Standings: 1. USA 11, 2. Sweden 9, 3. Czech Rep. 4, 4. Russia 3, 5. Finland 3

Vladimir Dzurilla Tournament in Slovakia
9 Feb.: Germany v Switzerland 4-5
9 Feb.: Slovakia v Belarus 5-0
10 Feb.: Belarus v Germany 0-4
10 Feb.: Slovakia v Switzerland 2-1
11 Feb.: Switzerland v Belarus 3-2
11 Feb.: Slovakia v Germany 2-1

Standings: 1. Slovakia 9, 2. Switzerland 6, 3. Germany 3, 4. Belarus 0

Four Nations Tournament in Denmark
9 Feb.: Norway v Austria 2-0
9 Feb.: Denmark v Latvia 2-4
10 Feb.: Latvia v Norway 5-3
10 Feb.: Austria v Denmark 0-5
11 Feb.: Austria v Latvia 2-0
11 Feb.: Denmark v Norway 3-0

Standings: 1. Latvia 6, 2. Denmark 6, 3. Norway 3, 4. Austria 3

Four Nations Tournament in Hungary
9 Feb.: France v Slovenia 4-0
9 Feb.: Hungary v Italy 5-3
10 Feb.: Slovenia v Italy 4-3 SO
10 Feb.: Hungary v France 3-2 OT
11 Feb.: Italy v France 4-3 OT
11 Feb.: Slovenia v Hungary 5-6

Standings: 1. Hungary 8, 2. France 5, 3. Italy 3, 4. Slovenia 2

WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT

Euro Hockey Tour in Finland
8 Feb.: Finland v Sweden 3-1
9 Feb.: Finland v Sweden 3-2 OT
10 Feb.: Finland v Russia 7-2
11 Feb.: Sweden v Russia 4-0
12 Feb.: Finland v Russia 7-1

Standings: 1. Finland 11, 2. Sweden 4, 3. Russia 0

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