Japan-Finland 3-1 (2-0, 0-1, 1-0)
CHICAGO – For the first time in hockey history at any level, a team from Japan has defeated a team from Finland. Japan’s “kiseki” on ice – miracle, in English – came at the Bob Allen Arena at the World Women’s U18 Championship.
The victory was significant for two reasons. One, it means the Japanese finish in third place in Group A and advance to the quarterfinals. And two, it means the Czechs finish in last place and will now face Russia in a best-of-three Relegation Round series. One of these teams will be demoted for 2011.
The heroes tonight for the Japanese were Nodoka Abe, with two goals, and goalie Shizuka Takahashi, who stopped 34 of 35 Finnish shots.
Abe started the dream just 2:41 into the game on a power play, but it was the next goal, three and a half minutes later, that sent the Japanese bench into controlled celebration.
Nene Sugisawa dumped the puck in and headed to the bench on a routine line change, but Finnish goalie Susanna Airaksinen misjudged the puck and it blooped its way into the net for a shocking 2-0 Japan lead.
But the Japanese played a solid game and skated stride for stride with the bigger Finns. Even when Salla Rantanen got the Finns on the board early in the second period during a wild scramble in front of the Japanese net, there was no panic in Japan’s play and the team certainly wasn’t trying to sit on the lead.
They had a great chance to go up by two goals again late in the period with a 5-on-3 power play for 36 seconds, but they were unable to do so. But Abe got her second of the game early in the third, and the team played confidently the rest of the game.
The results had no effect on Finland in the standings as Suomi was going to finish in second place regardless, which is why coach Harri Laurila didn’t pull Airaksinen in the final minute.
United States-Czech Republic 15-0 (5-0, 6-0, 4-0)
The United States did what most people expected and laid a hard one on the Czech Republic tonight in the final game of today’s WW U18 Championship action, winning 15-0.
Haley Skarupa had six points on the night, including two goals. Alexandra Carpenter and Kendall Coyne led the attack with four goals each.
The win gives the Americans an expected bye into the semi-finals while the Czechs now have to play Russia in the Relegation Round.
There was little excitement in the game. Coyne scored the game’s first goal at just 2:01 and the team never looked even vaguely threatened. They scored fives times in the first period and six in the second before easing off slightly in the final 20 minutes. Four of the goals came on the power play.
Goalie Lenka Craigova played the final 20 minutes in mercy relief of Veronika Hladikova who surrendered eleven goals on 45 shots. In all, shots were 67-16 for the U.S.
Canada-Sweden 8-0 (3-0, 4-0, 1-0)
Canada steamrolled past Sweden at Walter Bush Arena this afternoon to the tune of 8-0 and earned an automatic place in the semi-finals on Saturday. The two-time silver medalists enjoy a two-day break now while Sweden is right back at it tomorrow in the quarterfinals.
Brigette Lacquette had a goal and three assists while Jessica Campbell had two goals and an assist and Erin Amrbose had three assists.
Campbell got the first goal at 5:38 on a power play, although it was the result of a great rush down the left side more than a set play in the offensive end. Sarah Davis made it 2-0 two minutes later on a delayed penalty, and Lacquette finished the first period scoring with another 5-on-4 goal.
The second period was dominated by the Canadians and halfway through, with the score a comfortable 6-0, coach Dan Church decided to goalie Erica Howe some playing time and resting Carmen MacDonald.
Laurie Kingsbury closed out the scoring in the final period.
Russia-Germany 1-3 (0-1, 0-1, 1-1)
Germany defeated Russia 3-1 this afternoon in the first of four games at the WW U18 Championship at Bob Allen Arena.
With the victory the Germans finish in third place in Group B and a place in the quarterfinals and leaving Russia to fight for survival in the Relegation Round starting tomorrow.
The Germans got the first goal of the game shortly after a power play expired. Tatjana Voigt had the puck in the right corner of the Russian end and made a nice pass in front to Jacqueline Janzen who deftly redirected the puck past Anna Prugova.
Marie Delarbre made it 2-0 early in the second period coming out of the corner unmolested and getting two good cracks on goal before pushing the puck past Prugova. Russia had the next three power-play chances but couldn’t maintain any pressure in the German end.
Ines Strohmaier made it 3-0 on a German power play early in the third and Anna Shibanova counted the lone Russian goal in the final minute.