BUDAPEST – The 2014 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship bronze medal went to the Czech Republic following a 1-0 shutout of Russia in Budapest. Captain Aneta Tejralova had the game’s only goal in the second period while goaltender Klara Peslarova stopped all 20 shots against her.
“Absolutely not (laughs),” said Tejralova when asked if she thought her goal was going to end up as the game winner. “But we persevered and played a great game defensively.”
“I was really nervous towards the end about giving up a bad bounce and a goal late,” said Peslarova, who came in as a backup in the Czech’s 4-0 loss to Finland in last year’s bronze medal game. “But as the time went down closer and closer I believed that we would do it, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Russia, which made it this far by playing some of the best defence of any Russian team, U18s or otherwise, came into the third period down 1-0 and needing a goal to keep its bronze medal hopes alive.
But it was the Czechs who were the better team at the back end today, as Czech goaltender Klara Peslarova held on for the shutout earning her team its first U18 women’s bronze medal in six years.
The two teams had met four times previously in the women’s U18 tournament, with the Czechs winning all four games while outscoring the Russians 15-5.
The Czechs outshot the Russians in the first period but could not get any pucks past netminder Valeria Tarakanova, who got the start in net for the Russians thanks to her performance in the semi-final against Canada where she stopped 69 of 70 shots on net.
At 1:14 in the second period the Czech Republic was finally able to solve the Russian defence and got on the board with a power play goal from Tejlarova, her first of the tournament, coming on a wristshot near the slot area and assisted on a cross-ice pass from Vendula Pribylova.
It was Russia’s first appearance in a U18 Women’s Worlds medal game. Prior to 2014, the country never finished better than seventh place and was actually relegated in 2010. But led by team captain and Sochi Olympian Anna Shokhina, Russia recovered from a 6-1 defeat to the U.S. in its opening game to post wins over Sweden and Hungary to advance to the playoff round for the first time ever, even having the chance to post a huge upset over Canada but falling in overtime 1-0 in the semi-final.
"I told the girls that this is how life is sometimes after the game," said Russian head coach Alexander Ulyankin. "Still I think we set a new standard for Russian hockey at this level and I expect us to continue to be as competitive in the future as we were in this tournament."
The Czech Republic takes home its first bronze medal in six year. The first and only time the team had won bronze before was in 2008 at the inaugural U18 Women’s World Championship in Calgary.