In a dominant performance, Russia got one goal in all three periods from Tatyana Pankratova, Xenia Tyurina and Daria Kovalenko. Yulia Volkova only had to make 11 saves for the shutout, while Finnish goalie Kiia Lahtinen held her team as best she could, stopping 37 of 40 shots.
“We’ve accomplished our goal,” said Russian captain Kristi Shashkina, who was named Best Forward of the tournament. “We prepare for every game very seriously, and today we were confident we would win.”
“It was really difficult to get chances in the offensive zone,” said Finnish coach Arttu Sissala. “Russia played really well today, really hard, and we weren’t ready for the first two periods. We managed to get the energy up in the third period, but that wasn’t enough today.”
Finland’s Siira Yrjola was named Best Defender of the tournament.
Russia took 11 of 12 possible points in the group stage, losing only one point in a 3-2 overtime victory over the host Czechs, while Finland started with a surprising 2-1 shootout loss to Austria before winning four in a row to reach the final. In the semi-finals, Russia beat Austria 3-1 and Finland beat the Czech Republic 4-2.
“This was my best international tournament I’ve ever attended, and my last U16 event, so this was a good way to finish it,” said Czech goaltender Julie Pejsova, who was named the tournament’s Best Goalkeeper and, incredibly, played in the bronze-medal game after spending the previous night in the hospital!
“I was urging them at the hospital that I really needed to play,” Pejsova told hokej.cz. “They said they couldn't let me go, so my dad signed a release form in the morning and I went to the game. I thought the coaches wouldn't play me, but they did. I thank them for trusting me and putting me in goal even though I had slept in the hospital.”
This was the third Women’s U16 European Cup, which is not an official IIHF event. Participants of MNA Leadership Program of 2016 IIHF Women’s High-Performance Camp made the agreement in July 2016 to organize the first tournament in 2017 in Budapest with eight countries (Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Slovakia and Hungary). Last year, the second edition was in Vierumaki, Finland, with the addition of Norway and Japan – who requested to join to help improve their women’s program – but Slovakia did not participate.
Sweden, which does not have a women’s U16 program, is one of the only traditional top-level European countries that has not participated in the tournament yet.
In the three tournaments so far, Russia, Finland and the Czechs have dominated the medals. The Russians have two golds and a bronze, the Finns have one medal of each colour, and the Czechs have two silvers and a bronze.
“We didn’t win last year so our goal was to win the European Cup this year and we did,” said Russian coach Yevgeni Bobariko. “In Russia, we have a lot of good young female hockey players and this is a good opportunity for them. We believe we have a good future.”
Bobariko also praised the Czechs for the great organization.
“The Organizing Committee tried to do this event as much the same as an IIHF event so the girls could feel like they were at a World Championship,” said Martin Loukota, Sport Manager of the Czech Ice Hockey Association, who also thanked the city of Pribram for their contributions. “And we strongly believe that this event will continue and the best teams from all over the world will meet and compete every spring.”