USA wins up north
USA wins up north
American women take Four Nations in Sundsvall
The top women’s tournament took place up north in Sundsvall. In the Swedish city with a rink named after the city’s two most iconic hockey players, Fredrik Modin and Henrik Zetterberg, it came down once again to a final between the North American rivals. And just like last spring at the Women’s Worlds in Malmo, Sweden proved lucky for Team USA.
The Americans were the strongest team in the preliminary round of the Four Nations Tournament and had clear wins against all opponents – 6-2 vs. Sweden, 3-0 vs. Canada and 7-0 vs. Finland.
Team Canada had more trouble but won its other two games against Finland (2-0) and Sweden (3-1) to reach the gold medal game and a rematch against Team USA.
Shots were 32-32, and after a scoreless opening frame it was Canada which gained the lead with Natalie Spooner’s power-play marker 64 seconds into the second period. Brianna Decker converted the next power play of the game to tie the game for Team USA but at 14:15 Meghan Agosta made it 2-1 for Canada.
Team USA started the third period on a power play. Once the penalty had expired, Decker scored her second goal of the day to tie the game and send it into overtime. After 36 seconds in the extra period Hilary Knight ended a counter-attack after a pass from Kelli Stack to score the tournament-clinching goal for the Americans for their second tournament win on Swedish soil in seven months.
“We came out and played a very complete game and did what we needed to do to win,” said Team USA head coach Ken Klee. “I’m proud of the team and all the effort they put in. We never gave up and it was a well-deserved victory.”
The tournament is the last chance for the North American teams to measure themselves with top European nations prior to the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Kamloops, Canada, next spring. For the host nation it was the perfect opportunity to test some of their most promising players as Canada attempts to claim back the Worlds title.
“We brought a lot of young players to this tournament and we got a really good look at where they are at in their development and where we’re at as a program,” said Team Canada head coach Laura Schuler.
“Most importantly we really grew as a team, we challenged the team with a lot of different tasks and they really stepped up to the occasion and did what we were asking them to do. I was really happy with our play and I thought that we created a lot of scoring chances and unfortunately we just didn’t capitalize enough.”
The Nordic rivalry ended with two Finnish wins. The Lionesses beat Sweden 3-1 in the preliminary round and 3-2 in overtime in the bronze medal game. The Finns built up a two-goal cushion with markers from veteran players Susanna Tapani and Riikka Valila but Sweden tied the game with two goals from Erica Uden Johansson. In the extra period it was Jenni Hiirikoski who scored the game-winning goal at 2:15.
Team USA had the most successful offence with Kelli Stack (2+6), the Lamoureux twins Jocelyne (4+2) and Monique (2+4), Hilary Knight (4+2) and Brianna Decker (3+2) leading the way. Finland’s Valila also had five points (1+4).
Other European nations performed at the Five Nations Tournament in Hodonin, Czech Republic, which became a battle for first place between Russia and the Czechs, who were promoted to the top division last spring.
The two teams won all games and had the biggest challenge when facing each other for what was the teams’ second game of the tournament. The Czechs had a great start with three unanswered goals from Anna Zikova, Lucie Podova and Klara Hymlarova to earn a 3-0 lead before the halftime mark.
Russia cut the lead with an Olga Sosina marker 67 seconds into the third period then went quiet until the dying minute of regulation time. With 18 seconds left Valeria Pavlova scored Russia’s second goal and four seconds before the buzzer Anna Shibanova scored the game-tying goal.
The game went to overtime and shootout where Sosina scored the game-winning goal for Russia.
Germany, relegated to Division I last spring, earned a third-place finish by beating Switzerland 3-1 in the game between neighbours on the map and in the standings. Alina Muller opened the scoring for Switzerland but Nicola Eisenschmid tied it up and Germany turned the game with two late goals in the third period from Kerstin Spielberger and Andrea Lanzl.
Switzerland, the bronze medallist in Sochi 2014, struggled throughout the tournament and had its only victory against winless Slovakia to finish in fourth place.
Two other Division I Group A nations faced off in Skien where host Norway beat France in three games – 4-2, 2-1 and 3-2.
Russian U18 in shape
The November break was also the last opportunity to play tournaments before the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship, which will take place next year from 8 to 15 January in St. Catharines, Canada.
Russia won the Four Nations Tournament it hosted in Dmitrov in the Moscow Region. The Russians beat Finland 5-2 before continuing with a 6-1 victory over Germany. On the last they the home team faced Sweden, which also started successfully beating Germany (2-1) and Finland (3-0), for a winner-take-all game.
The tight game for tournament win ended with Russia edging the Swedes 2-1. Linnea Andersson opened the scoring for Sweden at 14:37 but the Russians replied with two second-period goals from Landysh Falyakhova and Daria Zubok that changed the game.
Austria also won its own tournament on home ice. The event was staged in Radenthein and Spittal an der Drau where the Austrians will host the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Qualification. The Austrians beat Switzerland (4-3) and Italy (4-0) in regulation time and had a 3-2 shootout loss against second-placed Slovakia but that was enough since the Slovaks didn’t have enough points after an opening-day shootout loss to Switzerland.
Italy upset Switzerland and finished the tournament in third place ahead of their neighbours who played below their expectations with eight U18 players away to play with the senior national team.
In a Four Nations Tournament in Sheffield the Spanish senior national team won all games to finish ahead of the U18 teams from higher-ranked countries. The Polish juniors were closest but after scoreless 60 minutes the Spaniards also won that game. The Polish U18 team finished in second place ahead of Hungary and Great Britain.
|Four Nations Tournament in Sundsvall, Sweden|
|8 Nov.||Finland||-||Sweden||3-2 OT|
|8 Nov.||USA||-||Canada||3-2 OT|
|Standings: 1. USA, 2. Canada, 3. Finland, 4. Sweden|
|Five Nations Tournament in Hodonin, Czech Republic|
|3 Nov.||Slovakia||-||Czech Rep.||0-5|
|5 Nov.||Czech Rep.||-||Russia||3-4 SO|
|6 Nov.||Czech Rep.||-||Germany||3-2|
|8 Nov.||Switzerland||-||Czech Rep.||0-2|
|Standings: 1. Russia 11, 2. Czech Rep. 10, 3. Germany 6, 4. Switzerland 3, 5. Slovakia 0|
|U18 Women's Four Nations Tournament in Dmitrov, Russia|
|Standings: 1. Russia 9, 2. Sweden 6, 3. Finland 3, 4. Germany 0|
|U18 Granatium Trophy in Radenthein & Spittel, Austria|
|5 Nov.||Switzerland||-||Slovakia||2-1 SO|
|7 Nov.||Slovakia||-||Austria||3-2 SO|
|Standings: 1. Austria 7, 2. Slovakia 6, 3. Italy 3, 4. Switzerland 2|
|U18 Women's Four Nations Tournament in Sheffield, Great Britain|
|6 Nov.||Spain (Sr)||-||Poland||1-0 OT|
|6 Nov.||Great Britain||-||Hungary||1-7|
|7 Nov.||Great Britain||-||Spain (Sr)||1-6|
|8 Nov.||Hungary||-||Spain (Sr)||0-7|
|8 Nov.||Great Britain||-||Poland||2-4|
|Standings: 1. Spain (Sr) 8, 2. Poland 7, 3. Hungary 3, 4. Great Britain 0|
|U18 Women's exhibition games in Vaujany, France|
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