Month: May 2017 (page 2 of 4)

Why does USA continue to fail at the World Championship?

https://d13csqd2kn0ewr.cloudfront.net/uploads/image/file/245526/w768xh576_2017-05-18T164206Z_323854139_UP1ED5I1AE56T_RTRMADP_3_ICEHOCKEY-WORLD.jpg?ts=1495141106

By

The United States lost 2-0 in Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup to Finland, prolonging their gold-medal drought at the World Championship to a staggering 57 years. In fact, the Americans haven’t even made it to the gold-medal game since they won it in 1960.

Given the depth of players the nation possesses, this is quite embarrassing, to be frank.

Sure, Canada, Sweden, and Russia are all rich with talent, but countries such as the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, and Switzerland have all played in at least one gold-medal game as recently as 2010.

You could argue that hockey is the No. 1 sport in most of those countries and that USA is more concerned with their football, baseball, and basketball. However, USA has more than double the amount of hockey rinks (indoor and outdoor) in its country than Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Switzerland combined, according to the IIHF’s website.

Furthermore, USA had 266 players play in the NHL this season, second only to Canada’s 451. Sweden was third with 91, per quanthockey.com.

There have been many years where USA was missing almost all of its top players, but 2017 was not one of those years. The team featured firepower up front with Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, and Dylan Larkin, stability on the back end with Jacob Trouba, Noah Hanifin, and Brady Skjei, and a good veteran goaltender in Jimmy Howard, who was coming off his best NHL season.

To make matters worse, they lost to a Finnish team missing just about everyone. The only players on the Suomi to play at least 20 NHL games this year were Valtteri Filppula, Sebastian Aho, Mikko Rantanen, and Jesse Puljujarvi. They got shut out by some goaltender named Harri Sateri.

Prior to losing to the Finns, the Americans had dominated the tournament. They were 6-0-0-1, scoring 31 goals and allowing just 14. They even beat both Russia and Sweden.

Perhaps the most logical theory as to why the States annually disappoint at this tournament is simple: the setting.

The worlds have been held in Europe every year since 1962, with the lone exception being 2008 when the tournament took place in Quebec City and Halifax.

Playing in front of a hostile European crowd can be awfully intimidating. They chant through the entire game as if it were a soccer match. American fans are outnumbered by fans of their European opposition regardless of which overseas nation is hosting the tournament.

Maybe even more importantly, American players aren’t accustomed to the larger international ice surface. Obviously, many European teams are made up of NHLers, but their supporting cast of players usually play overseas during the regular season and are therefore used to the big ice.

The European setting certainly plays a part, but perhaps USA’s failures at the worlds stem from a deeper meaning.

Realistically, how many American kids grow up dreaming of starring in the World Championship? Probably none, because they all grow up dreaming of hoisting the Stanley Cup, or winning Olympic gold.

This is not to say that the Americans don’t want to win and make their country proud. They certainly do.

However, when it comes down to a puck battle, or putting your body on the line, 33-year-old Topi Jaakola of Finland, who has played his entire career overseas, might just have that much more of a will to win than a young American player with a bright future in the NHL. For Jaakola, this is his Stanley Cup.

Day Thirteen At The Worlds

http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/SE/20170518/AP/305189844/EP/1/4/EP-305189844.jpg&MaxW=315

By Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — The United States’ ice hockey world championship campaign ended Thursday with a 2-0 quarterfinal defeat against Finland, after a record-equaling run of six straight victories for Jeff Blashill’s young roster.

Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Kemppainen scored as Finland booked its place in Saturday’s semifinals.

“It goes without saying we’re bitterly disappointed,” said Blashill, whose team looked to be improving with each game following its surprise 2-1 defeat to co-host Germany in the opener.

“We believed that this team had the ability to win the tournament. They are a great group who cared, were selfless and played some great hockey. Unfortunately, Finland was better than we were today and I congratulate them.”

Canada edged Germany 2-1 to set up a semifinal showdown with Russia, which defeated the Czech Republic 3-0 with goals from Dmitri Orlov, Nikita Kucherov and Artemi Panarin.

Goals from Nicklas Backstrom, William Nylander and Alexander Edler gave Sweden a 3-1 win over Switzerland in Paris, setting up a meeting with Finland in the final four. Gaetan Haas had equalized for the Swiss.

Both semifinals take place in Cologne.

Canada outshot Germany by 50 shots to 20, but had to endure a nervy ending after Germany captain Christian Ehrhoff sent Yannic Seidenberg through to score short-handed with less than seven minutes remaining.

Ryan O’Reilly set up Mark Scheifele to score on the power play toward the end of the first period for Canada, which was thwarted by an an inspired performance from Germany goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

Canada had 20 shots to Germany’s one in the second period alone.

Jeff Skinner finally made the breakthrough with Mike Matheson and Scheifele involved before the end of the period.

Seidenberg pulled one back but Germany couldn’t force an equalizer.

Earlier, strong defense and a shut-out from Harri Sateri on his fourth start helped Finland surprise the U.S., which had beaten Russia to finish top of its group. The Americans outshot Finland by 26 to 20.

“We didn’t give up any goals so we feel we performed our game plan pretty well,” defenseman Juuso Hietanen said. “We didn’t give them any easy chances and we scored an important goal on the power play. Our defense was pretty good all night.”

The Finns had the best chance early on when goaltender Jimmy Howard denied Juhamatti Aaltonen on a breakaway.

Anders Lee was penalized for tripping at the start of the second period and Rantanen scored on the power play at the third attempt after Howard twice saved.

Howard, who finished with 18 saves compared to Sateri’s 26, produced another good block to deny Valtteri Filppula, but he was beaten by Kemppainen midway through the final period. Kemppainen swept the puck home after great interplay with Aaltonen.

Howard, who was the U.S. player of the game, said the Finns “made it tough on us all night long.”

Kevin Hayes, who was penalized for playing without a helmet at the start of the period, was then penalized again for slashing. Hopes of equalizing took another hit when Jack Eichel was sent to the box for high-sticking with less than two minutes remaining.

Lee, Johnny Gaudreau and Dylan Larkin were named the Americans’ best three players of the tournament.

In Paris, Sergei Plotnikov set up Orlov and Kucherov swept in the Russians’ second on a power play shortly afterward in the first period.

Overall, despite bossing possession, the Czechs were closed down well by the Russians, restricting their ability to get into good shooting positions. Russia wasn’t dominating but it did look comfortable. Czech frustration was summed up when forward David Pastrnak‘s stick broke in half on a slap shot.

“We played quite well in the beginning of the game, in the first period, but we weren’t scoring,” Czech coach Josef Jandac said. “When Russia scored they controlled the game for the next two periods.”

Panarin, the tournament’s scoring leader, wrapped it up off Kucherov’s cross-ice pass in the third. It was his fourth goal of the tournament and 14th point overall.

“It was a tough game. We didn’t start very well and the Czechs could have scored,” Russia coach Oleg Znarok said. “The ice isn’t very good here. We can say it’s very bad so it was difficult to play well.”

Promoting youth may be Hockey Canada’s greatest folly

By Kaitlin Cimini – Fanrag Sports Network

Shortly after USA Hockey announced the newest women’s ice hockey national team roster, Hockey Canada made public its short list of national team players in preparation for the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games. Its national team, like the U.S. team, will begin training together in September.

Canada’s women’s ice hockey team has earned a spot on the podium every Olympic Games, the vast majority of those medals being gold. In the past four years since the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Canada has used competitions such as the IIHF Women’s World Championships or the Four Nations Cup to test various combinations of players, systems, and plans of attack.

While those particular iterations of Team Canada have rarely taken home the gold, Canada seems to have hit upon a system that allows it to test its players in a high-pressure environment without its Olympic reputation on the line.

The roster Canada displayed at the most recent Women’s Worlds struggled to come together as a coherent team. Canada simply didn’t click for much of the tournament, dropping games to the U.S. and Finland, both times letting its opponent set the tone of the game. The Canadians constantly played catch-up.

“We’re not getting the bounces that we do, or we have,” forward Meghan Agosta told The Star after Team Canada lost to Team Finland. “It’s just been tough hockey. We’ve just got to figure it out, come back together as a team.

“This is a test. This is a test for Canada. I believe in the girls and I know we believe in each other. We have a lot of skill and a lot of talent on this team. I know we could definitely play better.”

Poulin said “we have to find a way” at least four times in less than two minutes, SportsNet’s Kristina Rutherford wrote. “I keep saying it,” she said, “but it’s true.”

“It’s not our game,” Poulin added.

The team bounced back in time to shut out Russia, but the damage was done: Team Canada had to fight to earn a way into the gold-medal game. With so many questions surrounding Canada’s discombobulated performance, eyes turned toward the roster, which proved to be disconcertingly young, built for speed and shooting but unable to consistently capitalize on the flaws in their opponents’ systems.

Clearly, the comparative youth of the roster contributed to Canada’s poor performance at Women’s Worlds, but how much responsibility does it bear for the outcome?

Canada may soon find out. While its pre-Olympic national team roster is not an exact replica of the team iced at Women’s Worlds, the similarities are striking. While Canada has added experience to its roster, it has also added even more youth, swapping out players in their early twenties for others, even incorporating some in their teens.

Defense

Erin Ambrose (23)
Renata Fast (22)
Laura Fortino (26)
Micah Hart (20)
Halli Krzyzaniak (22)
Brigitte Lacquette (24)
Jocelyne Larocque (28)
Meaghan Mikkelson (32)
Lauriane Rougeau (27)

Forwards

Meghan Agosta (30)
Bailey Bram (26)
Emily Clark (21)
Mélodie Daost (25)
Brianne Jenner (26)
Rebecca Johnston (27)
Sarah Nurse (22)
Amy Potomak (17)
Sarah Potomak (19)
Marie-Philip Poulin (26)
Jillian Saulnier (25)
Natalie Spooner (26)
Laura Stacey (23)
Blayre Turnbull (23)
Jennifer Wakefield (27)

Goaltenders

Ann-Renee Desbiens (23)
Genevieve Lacasse (28)
Shannon Szabados (30)

Nearly half of the players on this roster are 23 years of age or younger: 11 of 23. The Potomak sisters ring in at 17 and 19, respectively. The potential offensive output is tremendous, however, and may very well be what tipped the scales in their favor.

While the low median is certainly indicative of the development in the world of women’s hockey being driven largely by the NCAA and CIS systems, it still shows an extremely young roster, one without much experience at the Olympic level, ostensibly prioritizing speed and offensive output over wisdom.

Olympic gold medalist and Boston Blades captain Tara Watchorn, for example, was left off the short list for Team Canada despite her leadership skills, precise skating and large frame. While Watchorn has a number of pluses and is still one of the top 10 defenders from Canada, her game is defense-driven and her footspeed is not on the same level as those who made this roster.

Prioritizing speed and shooting over experience may come back to bite Canada, as it did at Women’s Worlds. Team Canada has a little over six months to get its team into Olympic shape… and prove that its youth-driven approach can work.

Day Twelve At The Worlds

http://media.zuza.com/b/2/b2e62f01-006a-4d0f-802f-7d1f0d79d545/mme110-516_2017_171501_Content.jpg

By The Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — The United States came back three times to hand Russia its first defeat 5-3 and top Group A with its sixth straight win at the ice hockey world championship on Tuesday.

Kevin Hayes scored two goals in his second game at the tournament, and Anders Lee earned the match-winner as the U.S. out shot Russia by 35 to 19.

“A great win. We grew as a team today,” forward Johnny Gaudreau said.

They head to the quarterfinals on Thursday, when the U.S. will play Finland, and Russia will meet the Czech Republic.

Two-time defending champion Canada will play Germany, and Sweden takes on Switzerland.

Group B leader Canada beat fourth-placed Finland 5-2, with center Mitch Marner scoring twice in Paris.

Co-host Germany wasted a 2-0 lead against Latvia before leveling right at the end to make it 3-3, forcing overtime and penalty shots in Cologne. The first two shots from each side were saved and, after Roberts Bukarts hit the post, Frederik Tiffels settled it for Germany.

The Canadians, Russians, and Americans have lost one game. Russia scored 35 goals, the Canadians 32, and the Americans 31.

Switzerland avoided Russia by defeating the Czech Republic 3-1 in Paris to clinch second spot in Group B.

Nick Bjugstad hit the post early on for the U.S. before Artyom Zub was penalized for high sticking, then Nikita Kucherov for slashing, but the Americans failed to make their pressure count.

Nikita Gusev scored on a breakaway with just the Russians’ second shot at 12:29.

With five penalties in the first period, Russian indiscipline was bailed out by their defence, while the Americans were grateful to goaltender Jimmy Howard for a good save on another Russian breakaway.

The U.S. had 16 shots compared to Russia’s three in the first period alone.

Kucherov was still off the ice when Hayes equalized at the start of the second on a power play, scoring from a narrow angle. It was Hayes’ first goal since joining the U.S. following the New York Rangers’ elimination from the NHL playoffs.

Russia captain Anton Belov scored minutes later after Sergei Plotnikov sent the puck back, but Dylan Larkin equalized on another Brock Nelson assist.

U.S. captain Connor Murphy was penalized for interference and Gusev claimed his second on the power play — on a counterattack when the understrength Americans were attacking — leading to an evident surge in Russian confidence.

But Hayes scored again to tie the game at 3 going into the third period.

Frayed tempers led to a punch-up in the third, before Yevgeni Kuznetsov was penalized for slashing.

This time, the U.S. capitalized. Jack Eichel sent a long pass to Gaudreau, who found Lee free to score from close range.

Another moment of indiscipline from Kuznetsov, this time for blatant interference, dented Russian hopes, though Howard had to make another big save to deny Artemi Panarin the equalizer on a breakaway.

Russia went for broke, but Nelson sealed it for the U.S. with an empty net goal with 22 seconds remaining.

After Marner’s early goal for Canada, center Jani Lajunen equalized for Finland within 18 seconds. But less than one minute later Marner set up Colton Parayko for another laser beam slap shot from the defender.

Centre Nate MacKinnon, Canada’s leading scorer with 12 points, set up Marner for 3-1 later in the first period.

Brayden Point got a fortuitous fourth after the puck came back off the boards and fell just in front of goal. But defenceman Atte Ohtamaa kept Finland in with an outside chance heading into the third period.

The suspense lasted precisely 34 seconds as Finland gave the puck away and centre Matt Duchene peeled away to score.

It was a nail-biter in Cologne, where Germany equalized with 33 seconds to go through centre Felix Schutz.

Germany broke through with two quick goals midway through the second period with left winger David Wolf netting and veteran defenceman Dennis Seidenberg scoring 27 seconds later.

But Latvia forward Gunars Skvorcovs replied late in the second period; Janis Sprukts equalized midway through the third, and center Andris Dzerins scored a power-play goal with four minutes left.

Earlier, Sweden defeated Slovakia 4-2 to finish third in Group A and Belarus defeated Norway 4-3 in Group B.

Day Eleven At The Worlds

http://media.zuza.com/a/7/a7713625-6949-447c-a2ce-6144a27de2eb/PJO102-515_2017_141628_Content.jpg

By Jerome Pugmire – The Associated Press  

PARIS — Defenceman Colton Parayko scored twice and centre Nate Mackinnon moved atop the tournament scoring leaders with three assists as defending champion Canada beat Norway 5-0 at the ice hockey world championship on Monday.

Canada tops Group B with five wins from six matches, putting it three points ahead of 2010 winner Czech Republic. Canada has 27 goals for only eight conceded, with the only defeat to third-placed Switzerland.

Russia is doing even better than Canada, with six straight wins after beating Latvia 5-0 to retain top spot in Group A ahead of the United States. The clinical Russians have 32 goals and allowed five ahead of their showdown with the Americans on Tuesday.

Brayden Schenn, Mark Scheifele, and Ryan O’Reilly got Canada’s other goals while goaltender Chad Johnson had an easy 10-shot shutout for Canada, which is chasing a third straight title and record-equaling 27th. Russia holds that record, with 22 of those achieved as the former Soviet Union.

Canada coach Jon Cooper said the players were fired up after losing to the Swiss 3-2 in overtime on Saturday.

“Our guys were playing a little bit angry from what happened two nights earlier,” Cooper said. “So the guys had an extra bit in their step, they came out with energy, and determined.”

Canada’s last group game is on Tuesday against fourth-placed Finland, which is three points clear of Norway.

Mackinnon has five goals and six assists so far. That puts him two behind Russian winger Artemi Panarin, who also had a hat trick of assists against Latvia. Russia’s goals came from Bogdan Kiselevich, Ivan Telegin, Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov and Anton Belov.

Latvia is level on points with Germany and they face off on Tuesday for a quarterfinal spot.

Of Mackinnon, Cooper said: “He’s a first overall (NHL) pick for a reason. He’s an exceptional talent, a rare breed of both power and skill. Tie that in with the fact he competes really hard and he can keep defenders on their toes.”

Parayko’s ability to shoot from distance gave Canada the bonus of extra firepower.

“He really has a cannon,” Cooper said. “The laser beam sights were on today.”

Norway coach Petter Thoresen thanked his goaltender Henrik Haukeland for keeping the score down.

“Our goalie was very good. I’m glad about that, because it could have been ugly numbers on the scoreboard,” Thoresen said. “Our guys didn’t start well and just wanted to fight all the time.”

Meanwhile, France beat last-placed Slovenia 4-1 in Group B.

Forward Antoine Roussel grabbed a hat trick and 41-year-old goalie Cristobal Huet received an emotional send-off from the home crowd and players from both sides in his final international.

Jan Mursak got an impressive consolation on a lightning-fast breakaway when Slovenia was short-handed.

Denmark beat Italy 2-0 in Group A’s other match with late third-period goals from Nichlas Hardt and Peter Regin.

Italy ended the tournament with seven straight losses and was relegated.

Day Ten At The Worlds

http://media.zuza.com/5/8/5814bb9f-3e10-4058-920a-0213189fdc01/PJO144-514_2017_162530_Content.jpg

By The Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — The United States defeated Slovakia 6-1 Sunday to book its place in the quarterfinals at the ice hockey world championship ahead of its Group A showdown with Russia.

Johnny Gaudreau finished with two goals to take his tournament tally to six, and an assist, while Jimmy Howard made 19 saves on his fourth start for the Americans, whose confidence seems to be growing as they stretched their winning run to five games.

Still, U.S. head coach Jeff Blashill saw room for improvement before the final group game against Russia on Tuesday.

“One thing we have to clean up is puck management and turning pucks over,” Blashill said.

Kevin Hayes and Brady Skjei played their first game on joining the side following the New York Rangers’ elimination from the NHL playoffs.

Hayes, who was named player of the game, picked up two assists and Skjei had one.

Clayton Keller, the youngest player at the tournament, opened the scoring, assisted by Anders Lee and Skjei. It was the 18-year-old Keller’s fifth goal of the championship.

Gaudreau followed suit early in the second period, set up by Hayes before Martin Gernat pulled one back.

Two quick-fire goals from Christian Dvorak, assisted by Gaudreau, and Jacob Trouba put the U.S. in a comfortable position.

Gaudreau grabbed his second of the game to start the third period – Hayes again with the assist – before Lee scored on a power play.

The U.S. moved top of Group A, one point ahead of Russia, which has a game in hand. The Russians, who also safely progressed to the quarterfinals, face Latvia on Monday, when the U.S. is idle.

Sweden, which was boosted by the arrival of centre Nicklas Backstrom and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, booked its quarterfinal place later Sunday with a 4-2 win over Scandinavian rival Denmark.

An early goal from Joel Lundqvist followed by two from William Nylander put the Swedes in a commanding position before Morten Madsen and Markus Lauridsen pulled Denmark back in the third period.

Backstrom sealed the win on a power play as Sweden ensured it cannot finish any lower than fourth in Group A.

The top four in each group go through to the quarterfinals.

The Czech Republic ended France’s hopes of making the quarterfinals from Group B with a 5-2 victory in Paris.

The tournament co-hosts failed to make the most of two 5-on-3 chances and more power play time, 10:35 compared to just 2:43 for the Czechs.

Finland came from two goals down to beat the Swiss 3-2 in overtime in Group B.

Fabrice Herzog and Joel Genazzi put Switzerland two goals up before Juuso Hietanen pulled one back on a power play before the end of the first interval and Mikko Rantanen equalized in the third to send the game to overtime. Valtteri Filppula scored the winner as Finland consolidated fourth place in the group.

Day Nine At The Worlds

By The Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — Switzerland came from two goals down to end Canada’s perfect start to the ice hockey world championship with a 3-2 win in overtime on Saturday.

Fabrice Herzog’s second goal of the game helped to lift Switzerland to second in Group B behind two-time defending champion Canada.

The Canadians were frustrated by an inspired performance from Swiss goalie Leonardo Genoni, who took over from Jonas Hiller at 6:28 when his side was already trailing by two goals. Altogether, Switzerland made 43 saves as it was outshot by 45 to 26.

Centre Ryan O’Reilly opened the scoring on a power play, assisted by Mitch Marner, who doubled the Canadians’ lead shortly afterward.

But Mike Matheson was penalized for delaying the game in the third period and Herzog scored on the power play, then Vincent Praplan equalized.

Canada pushed hard for the winner only for Herzog to grab the overtime winner in Paris.

Earlier in Cologne, Russia routed Slovakia 6-0 and the United States fought back from two goals down to beat Latvia 5-3.

Russia reclaimed the lead of Group A and outshot Slovakia by 39 to 22.

Yevgeni Dadonov got the tournament favourites off to a great start with just 1:12 played, then claimed his second goal on a power play. Andrei Mironov made it 3-0 at the first interval.

Nikita Kucherov and Ivan Telegin added goals in the second period, and Vladislav Gavrikov finished the scoring as Russia stayed two points above the U.S.

It started badly for the U.S. with Latvia’s Teodors Blugers opening the scoring midway through the first period and Kaspars Daugavins making it 2-0 at the start of the second, assisted by Andris Dzerins.

Anders Lee and Danny Dekeyser were penalized for tripping, and Dzerins for holding, as tempers frayed.

Lee came back to set up J.T. Compher’s goal for the U.S., but another moment of indiscipline from Clayton Keller gave the Latvians yet another power play chance, duly taken by Oskars Cibulskis on a rebound after Connor Hellebuyck blocked Miks Indrasis’ initial shot.

Nick Bjugstad pulled one back again and Johnny Gaudreau equalized for the U.S. before the end of the second period with his fourth of the tournament.

Andrew Copp’s and Dylan Larkin’s goals then ensured the U.S. stretched its winning run to four games, following its surprise defeat to co-host Germany.

“It was a huge win given the early adversity,” Copp said. “We needed to get our legs under us a little bit and get into intensity mode.”

Germany boosted its quarterfinal hopes with a 4-1 win over Italy thanks to goals from Christian Ehrhoff, Matthias Plachta, Yannic Seidenberg and Dominik Kahun. Michele Marchetti got Italy’s goal after Leon Draisaitl set up Ehrhoff’s opener in his first start. Draisaitl has just arrived from the NHL playoffs.

Germany moved level with fourth-placed Latvia in Group A. The teams meet for what will likely be a decisive game on Tuesday. The top four in each group go through.

Belarus defeated Slovenia 5-2 for its first win of the tournament in Paris, where Markus Hannikainen scored the winner for Finland to beat Norway 3-2 to go fourth in Group B.

Day Eight At The Worlds

http://images.glaciermedia.ca/polopoly_fs/1.19695481.1494638889!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_804/pjo102-512-2017-141639-jpg.jpg

Jerome Pugmire – The Associated Press

PARIS — Stephane Da Costa saved France in a tense 4-3 shootout win against Belarus that kept its quarterfinal hopes alive, while co-host Germany lost to Denmark in overtime at the ice hockey world championship on Friday.

With the top four from each group going through to Thursday’s quarterfinals, Germany was in fifth place in Group A and France at sixth in Group B.

Belarus rallied from 2-0 down and led 3-2 in regulation before co-host France equalized with about seven minutes remaining to force overtime in front of a nervous home crowd in Paris.

France totally rode its luck, however, as Belarus hit the post at the end of regulation and right at the start of overtime, and then blew the chance to win the shootout when France missed twice.

With France trailing 1-0 in the shootout, veteran goaltender Cristobal Huet saved from Andrei Stas and — after Da Costa kept France in it with an assured finish — made another stop from Alexander Pavlovich to send the match into sudden death.

With the shooters reversed, Belarus went first and Mikhail Stefanovich — who put Belarus ahead in the shootout — was foiled by the vastly experienced Huet. Up stepped Da Costa and he confidently drew goalie Kevin Lalande before slotting through his legs for another composed shot under pressure.

The nerveless Da Costa also scored the shootout winner against Switzerland on Tuesday.

Germany also led 2-0 in Cologne, scoring twice inside a minute during the first period through wingers Patrick Reimer and Brooks Macek.

But the Danes levelled before the end of the period through left winger Frederik Storm and centre Morten Poulsen, and won the match 3-2 when Peter Regin scored in overtime off a pass from Nikolaj Ehlers.

“We were extremely tired, but Nik is one of the fastest skaters in the world and he somehow created a two-on-one for us,” Regin said, describing his winner. “I was lucky to get a break and put it five hole.”

Germany did not start first-choice goalie Thomas Greiss for the must-win game, despite Greiss making 42 saves last Friday to help beat the United States 2-1.

Germany is three points behind fourth-place Latvia ahead of their crucial match on Tuesday at the Lanxess arena.

At least Germany will be strengthened by the arrival of rising star Leon Draisaitl, whose hat trick for the Edmonton Oilers against the Anaheim Ducks last Sunday was the first by a German-born player in the NHL playoffs.

“Leon will help us a lot. He had an incredible year in the NHL for such a young player,” Germany forward Felix Schutz said. “He’s the best German player we’ve ever had. He’s going to give us some offence and on the power play.”

Earlier in Group B, centre Roman Horak scored twice as the Czech Republic beat Slovenia 5-1. Right winger Michal Repik, defenceman Michal Kempny and centre Roman Cervenka also scored.

The win moved the 2010 champion into second place in Group B, two points behind leader Canada, which is chasing a third straight title.

Centre Elias Lindholm scored his fifth of the tournament as nine-time champion Sweden moved up to second in Group A by crushing last-placed Italy 8-1.

Sweden’s other goals came from Victor Rask, defencemen Philip Holm and Jonas Brodin, Linus Omark, Carl Klingberg, Joel Eriksson Ek, and John Klingberg. Center William Nylander had three assists while Lindholm assisted Rask.

Canada’s bid for a fifth Olympic women’s hockey gold starts with 28 hopefuls

By Donna SpencerThe Canadian Press

Half the players invited to try out for Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey team know what’s coming. The other half don’t.

Jillian Saulnier has heard veterans talk about meltdowns during the gruelling six months it takes to choose the Olympic team and prepare to battle for gold.

“Now we laugh about it,” forward Marie-Philip Poulin said. “We didn’t laugh at that moment.”

Saulnier of Halifax and Poulin of Beauceville, Que., were among the 28 invitees announced Thursday by Hockey Canada.

Those who don’t live in Calgary will be there by Aug. 1 to train full time and play more than 50 games before the Winter Olympics next February in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“I’ve heard some stories, pretty good stories honestly,” Saulnier said. “It just seems to be like the time when the girls really come together and find out what really works to be successful.”

Those chosen will attempt to extend the country’s run of gold in women’s hockey to five straight.

But first, the 28 candidates will participate in a 20-day boot camp in June to prepare them for the rigours of what’s called centralization.

“I know the group of people we have selected are warriors,” head coach Laura Schuler said. “I know we have the right people in terms of our centralization roster. We have the depth, we have the talent.”

Countries are now allowed 23 players — three goaltenders and 20 skaters — on their women’s teams compared to the previous limit of three and 18.

Canada’s Olympic team is expected to be named in late December.

The U.S. has won seven of the last eight world championships beating Canada in overtime in the finals of the most recent two.

Canada’s Pyeongchang hopefuls were selected by Schuler, assistant coaches Dwayne Gylywoychuk and Troy Ryan and Hockey Canada general manager of national team programs Melody Davidson.

Players were chosen based on their previous performances with the national team, and their club or university teams.

“Difficult doesn’t even do it justice,” Davidson said. “It was agonizing.

“We just wanted the most talent available. Scoring goals is a big thing. We’ve lost twice in overtime.”

Poulin scored both the equalizer and overtime winner in 2014, when Canada rallied from a two-goal deficit with less than four minutes to go to beat the U.S. and claim gold again.

She and Brianne Jenner of Oakville, Ont., who also scored to spark the comeback, were among 14 alumni from that victorious squad summoned back for another shot at Olympic gold.

“It’s long season and the stakes are very high,” Jenner said. “This is everyone’s dream to play in the Olympics. As much as we’re coming together, we’re also battling for spots.”

Sisters Sarah and Amy Potomak of Aldergrove, B.C., defenceman Micah Hart of Saanichton, B.C., Saulnier and Blayre Turnbull of Stellarton, N.S., make this centralization roster the most coast to coast of any before it.

“It’s a tribute to the work the branches are doing, the buy-in on female hockey,” Davidson said. “Every province has somebody dedicated to female hockey.”

Edmonton’s Shannon Szabados, Genevieve Lacasse of Kingston, Ont., and Ann-Renee Desbiens of La Malbaie, Que., are Canada’s three goaltenders battling for coveted Olympic starts.

But Hockey Canada took the unusual step of naming two alternate goalies: Erica Howe of Orleans, Ont., and Emerance Maschmeyer of Bruderheim, Alta.

“The reality is there could be injuries, they could get sick,” Davidson explained. “We wanted them to make sure they kept training and preparing just in case we needed them on any type of recall.”

The women will again play 30 games against midget-triple A boys’ teams in Alberta as they have in previous Olympic seasons.

Those games simulate the pace of games against the U.S. and give the Canada an advantage over other countries who don’t get that type of competition.

“The midget league is our bread and butter,” Davidson said. “The buy-in from all those teams and coaches, they want to help us win a gold medal.

“They do whatever we need whenever we play them, which is terrific.”

Men’s hockey team to open off-ice training camp next week

South Korea fresh off a promotion

By Yoo Jee-ho – Yonhap News

Fresh off a promotion to the world’s top competition, the South Korean men’s national hockey team will open its off-ice training camp next week.

The Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) said Thursday the players will report to Jincheon Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, some 90 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sunday. They will start their 11-week program the following day, through July 27.

Coached by former National Hockey League defenseman Jim Paek, South Korea finished in second place at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship Division I Group A tournament late last month in Ukraine. It elevated South Korea to the IIHF World Championship, the top-flight competition in men’s hockey, for next May.

Before the worlds, South Korea will make its Olympic debut on home ice at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games in February.

In Paek’s regime, improved conditioning and team speed have been cited as keys to South Korea’s success. In Ukraine, South Korea relied on its superior quickness to apply effective forechecking and staged some third-period comebacks against exhausted opponents.

For the upcoming camp, South Korea has recruited the help of EXOS, a U.S.-based training company, and its Korean trainer Lee Chang-ho will be on hand.

The KIHA said the focus of the off-ice training will be to help minimize the risk of injuries and improve players’ overall strength and agility.

It added that 23 players will first report to Jincheon, but up to two more players could be added during the course of the camp.

Following the camp, South Korea will travel to Europe on July 28. It will split its time in Russia and the Czech Republic, and play professional teams from those countries in practice games.

« Older posts Newer posts »