HĂ„MEENLINNA, Finland â€“ Tornado Moscow Region was an irresistible force at the final tournament of the European Womenâ€™s Champions Cup, finishing the competition with a 6-0 record and the winnersâ€™ trophy.
It was the second EWCC trophy for the professional team from Dmitrov after 2010, when it triumphed in the finals in Berlin.
Tornado had already won all three games in the preliminary round to qualify for the finals as the top seed. The Russians also swept through the event in HĂ¤meenlinna, outshooting each opponent by 2:1.
The biggest stumbling block was a new entry on the first day. The ZSC Lions Zurich outshot Tornado in the first half of the game and Austrian national team forward Eva SchwĂ¤rzler tied up the score for the Swiss after an early goal from Tornadoâ€™s Inna Dyubanok.
However, Tornado changed gears and outshot the Swiss 27-5 in the third period. The effort was rewarded as Slovak forward Jana Kapustova scored the game-winner in the 2-1 victory.
Tornado continued with a 9-1 smashing of German champion ESC Planegg with a hat trick from Canadian forward Melissa Jaques and needed just one more point from the last game against host HPK HĂ¤meenlinna.
After a scoreless first period Tornado didnâ€™t leave the Finns much of a chance and eventually won 5-1.
The Russians had an impressive offence, occupying the top-eight of the scoring stats. Swedish forward Danijela Rundqvist was first with seven points (1+6) followed by Galina Skiba with six, and top goal scorer Melissa Jaques and Elin HolmlĂ¶v with five. Tatyana Burina, Jana Kapustova, Marina Sergina and defender Inna Dyubanok had four points apiece.
The Russians also had strong goaltending. Swedish national goalkeeper Kim Martin staged a successful comeback in the Tornado jersey after having missed most of the season due to an injury. She had the best save percentage in the tournament after her two games, 95.12%, while her 18-year-old teammate Anna Prugova had 94.74%.
The ZSC Lions Zurich finished a surprising second in their first European season, becoming the first Swiss team to claim the silver medals. Zug (2005) and Lugano (2011) had previously won bronze.
The lionesses recovered well from the opening day loss. In the deciding game for second place ZSC defeated HĂ¤meenlinna 6-2 thanks to three goals after 17 minutes and stellar goaltending from Anna Vanhatalo, who outduelled her Finnish compatriots Maija Hassinen and Kiira Laine in the HĂ¤meenlinna net. The Swiss sealed the silver medals by edging Planegg 3-2 on the last day.
Host HĂ¤meenlinna finished third, having its only victory on the opening day against winless Planegg, 3-2. Same as Zurich, HĂ¤meenlinna won its first-ever national womenâ€™s hockey title last year and played in the European Womenâ€™s Champions Cup for the first time.
Anna Vanhatalo (ZSC Lions) won the Best Goalkeeper award. She was the only goalkeeper who appeared in three games and was therefore the busiest, saving 102 shots for a 94.44 save percentage. The Tournament Directorate gave the other two awards to Tornado players. Inna Dyubanok was named Best Defenceman, Melissa Jaques Best Forward.
This yearâ€™s EWCC final was the probably most international one ever. Players from nine nationalities participated in the event, including countries whose clubs havenâ€™t made it to that level yet such as Austria (ZSCâ€™s Eva SchwĂ¤rzler), Great Britain (ZSCâ€™s Angela Taylor) and Slovakia (Tornadoâ€™s Jana Kapustova).
The competition with seven tournaments included 20 teams from as many countries including 13 of the 14 best-ranked European nations.
MARTIN MERKLinks: Scores & Stats
, Photo GalleryThe players from Tornado Moscow Region celebrate their second EWCC title. Photo: Veli-Matti A. PitkĂ¤nen