Russians, Czechs in medal hunt

Japan up 1-0 in relegation series versus Hungary

29.03.2014
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Russia moves on to the Women's U18 World semi-finals for the first time in team history. Photo: Jana Chytilova / HHOF-IIHF Images

BUDAPEST – Russia overcame penalties and a tough Finnish team in quarter-final of the 2014 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship 3-1, while the Czech Republic has a semi-final date with USA after shutting out Sweden 3-0.

Russia – Finland 3-1 (0-1, 1-0, 2-0)

BUDAPEST – Russia overcame penalties and a tough Finnish team to win the first quarter-final game of the 2014 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship 3-1. The win means that the Russians will advance to the semi-final round of the U18 Women’s Worlds for the first time ever.

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“We let emotions get the better of us for much of this game,” said head coach Alexander Ulyankin. “The girls were upset after the first thirty minutes, but after we got our first goal they were able to play more calmly and it turned out well for us in the end.”

Thanks in large part to solid goaltending for both teams, Finland and Russia went into the third period tied 1-1. What looked like an early goal by the Finns was waved off, the second time in the game that the referees disallowed a Finnish goal.

The game saw great performances by Finnish goaltender Ani Keisala and her Russian counterpart Nadezhda Morozova. Both netminders faced a lot of pressure as the Russian and Finnish offences were clicking and produced a lot of quality scoring opportunities.

But it was Keisala who caught the bad break with 9:54 to go in the third period, as she was not able to keep the rebound on a soft shot by Alexandra Neryuyeva. The puck bounced off her and stopped dead in the crease, allowing Neryuyeva to bury her own rebound on what would turn out to be the game-winning goal.

But with 1:52 to go the puck came to the Russian bench as the players were changing, forcing the referee to call a penalty for too many men, the eighth penalty in the game for the team. Finland pulled the goaltender for the two-man advantage, but the gamble proved to be fatal as Anna Shokhina gained posession at her own blue line and fired the puck on target, sealing her team’s trip to the semi-finals with an empty net goal. 

With the win Russia books its first trip to the semi-finals and will play Canada. This despite the Russians having 16 penalty minutes to Finland's eight.

An early hooking call against Russia gave the Finns an opportunity to generate some offence in the first period. Forward Emma Nuutinen got the puck in the high slot area and fired what looked to be a soft shot towards the Russian goal. Goaltender Nadezhda Morozova appeared to have no problem covering the puck with her glove, but instead it slid behind her and into the Russian net, giving Finland a 1-0 lead on the power play. ­

Russia fell into more penalty trouble beginning five minutes into the second period when Karina Verkhovtseva was called for a hook on Lotta Toivanen.  On the ensuing power play Nuutinen appreared to score after shooting the puck from the circle. Morozova did not make a clean save allowing Nuutinen to come in and bury the rebound, but the referee ruled that Morozova had covered the puck with her glove and blew the play dead.

Tempers flared midway through the second period as Russia's Alevtina Shtaryova was given a double minor for roughing. No goals came out of the power play for Finland, but seconds after killing the penalty Russia went right back into the box on a holding call. However Morozova and the Russian defence kept the Finns at bay and killed off the team’s fourth straight penalty.

Back at equal strength, the Russians tied the game with four minutes to go in the second when Fanuza Kadirova intercepted a clearing attempt by the Finns in their own zone. She made a pass across the ice to Alsu Rakhimova, who had the vision to pass it back to Kadirova in front of the open net for the score.

With the win Russia will move on to play Canada in the semi-finals, the first time that the country will have a shot at a Women’s U18 medal.

Czech Republic – Sweden 3-0 (2-0, 0-0, 1-0)

BUDAPEST – The Czech Republic will get the chance to contest for a medal for the second year in a row, after shutting out Sweden 3-0 in the quarter-final of the 2014 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.

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“It wasn’t our best game of the tournament, but tonight we played much better as a team,” said Aneta Ledlova, who won the game’s Best Player award. “We played very well on defence and our goalie was outstanding.”

2013 bronze medallists Sweden came into the third period in a 2-0 hole, which would have been deeper if not for the efforts of goaltender Sarah Berglind to keep her team in the game.

But in the third period Sweden’s forward just could not find a way to get anything past Czech netminder Klara Peslarova, who also has had a great U18 Women’s Worlds and is a big reason for her country’s success in this year’s tournament.

“She was amazing,” said Czech defenceman Samantha Kolowratova. “She made a lot of key saves in the game and helped to take the pressure off us.”

The Czechs drew first blood with five minutes to go with a goal from Katerina Bukolska off a wrist shot from the left circle, her second of the tournament. Then with less than a minute to go Aneta Ledlova stole the puck away from the Swedes at the blue line and fought her way to the net, crashing into goaltender Sarah Berglind but still managing to get the puck past the goal line for the 2-0 lead.

Berglind was back under heavy pressure from the Czechs in the second period, as Sweden had problems keeping up with the speed of the Czech forwards and gave up a number of rushes up the middle.

But the Swedish goaltender kept the puck out of the net and did not allow her team to go down 3-0. Still Sweden could not produce a comeback, and an empty net goal from Martina Maskova with just over a minute left sealed the deal.

The Czechs will have a tough task in their semi-final game against the United States. Team USA has yet to lose in this tournament and has never fallen in a semi-final at the Women’s U18s.

“Only a real team that plays together can win a medal in this tournament,” said Ledlova. “We have to fight for one another and then we will get it.”

Japan – Hungary 4-3 (1-0, 3-2, 0-1)

BUDAPEST – Japan claimed Game 1 of the relegation series against Hungary with a 4-3 win. Rui Ukita has three points including two goals.

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“It was the best game of the tournament for us, and very satisfying to finally get a win,” said Ukita.

With a display of speed that has been the hallmark of the team, Japan opened the scoring at 13:19 of the third period, as Chisato Miyazaki picked up the rebound in front of the net after a two-on-one rush.

Japan made it into the first intermission with the lead, mainly thanks to a series to great saves from goaltender Aya Kamikura. But Kamikura made a bad miscue at 14:59 of the second period, covering the puck with her glove in front of the net after a scoring chance by Lili Pinter, but then taking her glove off the puck thinking it frozen and allowing Pinter to shoot it past her for the tying goal.

That mistake swung the momentum to the Hungarian side, and a minute later Hungary came back and scored again to go up 2-1 with ascore from Lili Pinter.

But the Japanese roared back with three straight goals from Moe Tsukimoto and two from Ukita, quieting the crowd back down at the Budapest Icecenter.

Horvath made things interesting with just over two minutes left in the game, making a nice move to shed the Japanese defender and go to the net before roofing the puck into the top corner to cut the lead to 4-3. But the Hungarians could not generate any more magic and fell to 0W-1L in the best-of-three relegation series.

ADAM STEISS


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