Date: February 16, 2018

Enroth shuts out Germans

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By Lucas Aykroyd IIHF.com

It took two minutes for Tre Kronor to draw first blood. And at this 21:10 start, the winless Germans were doomed before midnight as Sweden stayed perfect in Group C.

Sweden has not allowed a goal yet in this tournament.

“It was a great effort by us,” said German defenceman Bjorn Krupp. “Sweden is an unreal team, but we tried to do our best. Of course, you want to win the game, but 1-0 is good. We played well.”

Viktor Stalberg scored for the Swedes in this hard and heavy game in front of 3,077 fans at the Kwandong Hockey Centre. The Germans showed their mettle with a gritty two-way effort and hit several posts. They deserved a better fate, but their scoring remains as weak as American beer. They lost 5-2 to Finland in their first game.

“It was a hard-puck game,” said Stalberg. “They were battling. They play structured hockey and are hard to play against. They have a lot of big, strong guys. We knew they were going to make it hard on us. They stuck to their game plan very well. We had a good effort, but there are things we need to do better if we’re going to be successful.”

In goal, both Sweden’s Jhonas Enroth and Germany’s Timo Pielmeier saw their first Olympic action ever. Germany outshot Sweden 28-26 as Enroth, who played 156 NHL games and now backstops Dynamo Minsk, shone to earn his shutout.

After being a healthy scratch in the opening 4-0 win over Norway, Sweden’s budding superstar Rasmus Dahlin made his Olympic debut, taking the place of 31-year-old Patrik Hersley. The 17-year-old Frolunda Gothenburg product fit into the blue-and-yellow preliminary-round machine, despite seeing very limited minutes for coach Rikard Gronborg as a power play specialist.

Dahlin would become the first player under 18 to win Olympic gold if the Swedes capture their third title after Lillehammer 1994 and Turin 2006. Sweden is coming off silver in Sochi 2014, where it lost the final 3-0 to Canada.

Sweden got a great start. Stalberg took a pass from Patrick Zackrisson, split the German defence, and zapped a stick-side shot past Pielmeier at 2:00. The EV Zug winger showed the kind of wheels that helped him win the 2013 Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Stalberg described the play: “It was a quick turnaround and a good play by Bergstrom and a nice pass by Zackrisson in the middle. I was able to find some speed and beat the defenders there. With that much speed, I tried to move the puck from one side to the other and find a hole.”

Past the midway mark of the first, Germany’s Dominik Kahun cut in from the right side and rang one off Enroth’s right post. That was the underdogs’ best chance of the period.

The flow bogged down in the second period as Sweden took five minor penalties to Germany’s three. Enroth stood his ground as the Germans pounded away. At the other end, Pielmeier came across to foil Fredrik Pettersson’s one-timer. German defenceman Gerrit Fauser blocked a shot and headed to the dressing room, grimacing in pain.

“Special teams are going to be a huge part of our success,” said Krupp. “It’s so important in international play. That’s where most games are going to be decided.”

After Germany took back-to-back minors, it was Sweden’s turn to play with fire. The Germans got a 5-on-3 for 1:10 with Par Lindholm and Stalberg in the box. They fired away and Kahun again rang one off the iron. German assistant captain Christian Ehrhoff was stunned when Johan Fransson’s slap shot rocked his helmet, but the veteran blueliner kept going.

“Our penalty kill has been great the first two games but the power play needs to come up a bit,” Stalberg said. “We had some decent looks tonight, but we have to start scoring on that. It’s going to be crucial.”

The Germans showed no quit in the third period. Felix Schutz hit Enroth’s right post about six minutes into the frame. With 1:34 left, David Wolf busted to the net on the backhander and ran into the Swedish goalie, but couldn’t get the puck in.

German coach Marco Sturm called his timeout and pulled Pielmeier for the extra skater. Enroth made two fantastic in-tight saves on Schutz to preserve his shutout.

This was the sixth straight Swedish win over the reunified Germany, dating back to the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. Germany, back in the Olympics for the first time since 2010, has not won a game since beating Latvia 4-1 on 12 February 2002 at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Iron Maiden has confirmed it will play Sweden Rock 2018, and Sweden has confirmed it will play unbeaten Finland in a 21:10 Nordic showdown on Sunday for first place in the group. Play like a trooper or run to the hills will be the order of the day.

On Sunday, Germany faces winless Norway in a 12:10 battle for third and fourth place in Group C.

Eeli Tolvanen emerging as early star as Finland handles Norway

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By WTVA.com

Tolvanen, the Nashville Predators’ 2017 first-round pick, scored two more goals to lead Finland past Norway, 5-1, Friday at the Gangneung Ice Centre in PyeongChang, South Korea. It’s Team Finland’s second win of the preliminary round.

“I like scoring every game,” Tolvanen told reporters, “so that’s a big thing for me. I don’t know, I just go out there and have fun and try to play my game.”

The 18-year-old Tolvanen has three goals and three assists through two games in PyeongChang.

 With Finland down 1-0 at 16:36 in the first period, Tolvanen teed off on a one-timing pass from Sami Lepisto, a former NHL player, to beat Norwegian goalie Lars Haugen for the power-play equalizer.

Then, at 5:32 of the second period, Tolvanen found himself on a break on Haugen and beat the Norwegian goaltender with a forehand-to-backhand deke, slipping it through Haugen’s five-hole.

Tolvanen’s second marker was the game-winner. He scored twice on six shots on goal and was a threat to score every time he had the puck.

“It’s amazing. It’s a pleasure,” Finland captain Lasse Kukkonen said. “It’s a privilege to be on the same team with him and I get a chance to enjoy watching him play.

“Everybody can see he’s enjoying the hockey. He’s playing the hockey that everybody wants to play, having fun and doing the things he loves out there.”

After a torrid start to the 2017-18 season in the KHL – 16 goals in his first 28 games – Tolvanen hasn’t registered a goal for Jokerit since Nov. 24, 2017, or a span of 18 games.

 While the Predators will be keeping a close eye on Tolvanen’s performance in PyeongChang, Jokerit, too, has high stakes on how the 5-foot-10 winger performs.

So far, so good as Tolvanen is emerging as the early star of the Olympics.

“Eeli is a great player with an unbelievable shot,” Finland head coach Lauri Marjamaki said. “He brings us so much, his open-minded game and fearless (approach). And the whole atmosphere is excited because Eeli is on our team.”

A disallowed goal in the second period from Norway shifted the momentum fully into Finland’s favor. Factor in the 12 penalty minutes by the Norwegians, plus the two power-play goals from Finland, and it’s a losing formula.

“I don’t think it did but it looks like it did,” Norway defenseman Jonas Holos said of the disallowed goal. “After that, Finland took over the game completely.

“It was a good call by the referee. You can’t let stuff like that bug you. We took too many penalties. It is tough to kill that many penalties. It drains your energy.”

Norway winger Patrick Thoresen, formerly of the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers, opened the scoring in the first period, depositing a loose puck past Finland goalie Mikko Koskinen on the power play.

Thoresen’s goal was Norway’s lone against Koskinen, who made 21 saves in the win.

 Veli-matti Savinainen, Lepisto, on the power play, and Sakari Manninen also scored for Finland.

Lepisto’s goal was his second of these Olympics.

Haugen allowed five goals on 29 shots. Through two games, the Norwegian goalie has allowed nine goals on 57 shots.

“We played well the first two periods,” Haugen said, “but the lack of discipline was tough, especially against this team. It was frustrating. We were not disciplined enough.

“But the referee is the same for both teams and I guess, the other teams are managing to understand how he calls the games.”

Finland returns to action Sunday against Germany at 7:10 a.m.

Norway faces Germany Saturday night at 10:10 p.m.

The Presbyterian Roots of Ice Hockey in North Korea

American and Korean hockey teams meeting in Pyongyang, on the frozen Taedong River, in 1933.

American and Korean hockey teams meeting in Pyongyang, on the frozen
Taedong River, in 1933.

When Americans represented Pyongyang with pride.

For all the international attention that the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang are bringing to the Korean Peninsula’s fractious history, tense present, and uncertain future, there will likely be little talk about the era when a team of American high school students represented the (now North Korean) city of Pyongyang—in hockey. Today, North Korea has thoroughly erased positive depictions of Americans from its capital, but before World War II it hosted a strong American missionary presence, and was the site of a remarkable chapter in sports history.

The first documented ice hockey games in Korea occurred in 1928, when the Japanese Empire ruled Korea, which they called Chosun (1910–45). An organized national hockey league and a national championship followed a couple of years later. In the Chosun Hockey League, which included teams of all age groups, Americans from the missionary communities were instrumental in developing the game. The first national champion, in 1930, was Chosun Christian College in Seoul, a school founded in 1915 by American Presbyterian missionaries. In Pyongyang, the leading team was from Pyongyang Foreign School, the school that served the American community. Hockey was the school’s leading winter sport.

Hockey games in 1930s Korea were elemental, played on outdoor rinks on land and on Pyongyang’s frozen Taedong River. Bitter cold, rough natural ice, ankle-high improvised boards, and wind and snow were normal for the players, and spectators had to stand all game on the edge of the ice, and sometimes on it. Like pickup games on frozen ponds in Canada or Minnesota, the conditions of these early games challenged the dedication of players and spectators alike.

Players clearing snow from the Pyongyang Foreign School land ice rink, with the low boards visible behind them. Players clearing snow from the Pyongyang Foreign School land ice rink,
with the low boards visible behind them.

The most frequent opponent of Pyongyang Foreign School was the Kwangsung School, a local high school just outside of the front gate of the Pyongyang mission. The game results that have survived attest to early American superiority that narrowed rapidly as the Koreans learned the game. In 1933, Pyongyang Foreign School easily won the first game by a ridiculous 37–0, the second game by 16–2. The next year, Kwangsung lost 8–1 in the first game but played a close 2–0 in the next one.

The biggest game for the Foreign School each year was the match against Chosun Christian College, the best team in Korea. In 1933, following its success against the Kwangsung School, the Pyongyang Foreign School also soundly beat its American rival in Seoul, the Seoul Foreign School, 8–0. Their dominance came to an end against Chosun Christian College on the Taedong River. The older, bigger, more experienced Korean college players won 5–2.

In 1934, the Pyongyang school returned four of its six players from the previous year and added the brothers Samuel H. and Howard Moffett, sons of mission founder Reverend Samuel A. Moffett, who anchored the defense as the starting goaltender and left defenseman, respectively. Pyongyang Foreign School kept the play on Chosun Christian College’s side of the ice for most of the first two periods, but failed to score, and the match ended amid heavy snow, a scoreless tie. For the rest of the decade, however, the collection of high school students struggled to keep pace with Chosun Christian College. In 1936, the record states only that “though fighting a hard, and sometimes brilliant game,” Pyongyang Foreign School “succumbed to the superior weight and experience of the college men, and lost by a wide margin.”

The 1934 Pyongyang Foreign School hockey team. Goaltender Samuel Moffett is at center.The 1934 Pyongyang Foreign School hockey team. Goaltender
Samuel Moffett is at center.

World War II ended this founding era of hockey in Korea. Wartime austerity curtailed athletic competitions in Korea, and the Pyongyang Foreign School closed in 1940, after the U.S. Department of State warned of impending war with Japan. The sport was later revived and supported in North Korea by Chinese and Russian workers in the 1950s.

Today, the places where the Americans of Pyongyang Foreign School once played continue to be at the center of the city’s sports life (even if the school itself is now gone). The two largest athletic arenas in the country, Rungra-do May Day Stadium (capacity 114,000) and Kim Il Sung Stadium (capacity 50,000), are within sight of the location on the Taedong River where the school played in 1933. A large amusement park that opened on the island of Rungra-do in 2012, Rungra People’s Pleasure Ground, overlooks the exact spot. The site of Kwangsung School, on the other hand, is currently occupied by the Grand People’s Study House, the massive library that is the center for the study of North Korea’s juche ideology, and serves as the backdrop for military parades on Kim Il Sung Square.

A 1936 hockey game between Chosun Christian College (white) and Pyongyang Foreign School. A 1936 hockey game between Chosun Christian College (white) and
Pyongyang Foreign School.

To the south, Chosun Christian College lives on as Yonsei University, one of South Korea’s leading universities and still the country’s top hockey program. Yonsei regularly wins South Korea’s national championship and has produced most of the players in the country’s small professional league.

When the South Korea men’s team and the Unified Korea women’s team take to Olympic ice for the first time in PyeongChang, where they are playing as the host nation, it will be an achievement 90 years in the making, and one that Americans had a role in creating.

Russians rout Slovenia 8-2 in Olympic hockey

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American Press

The Russian hockey team is starting to look a lot more like the Olympic favorite everyone expected it to be.

Minnesota Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov led the way Friday with a hat trick in an 8-2 rout of Slovenia as the Russians rebounded from a surprising 3-2 loss to Slovakia in their opener.

“We’re the same team as we were in the first game,” said Ilya Kovalchuk, who finished with two goals and an assist. “Just first game we play good first five minutes, today we play all 60, so that was the difference.”

The team, officially competing as “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” scored twice on the power play after failing to do so in the opening game.

The Russians will next play the United States on Saturday in a game likely to determine who finishes at the top of the Group B standings.

“Obviously tomorrow we’re expecting a better game and more competitive. The United States is always the United States, so it’s going to be tough,” former Buffalo Sabres forward Mikhail Grigorenko said. “Our top players scored, so that was important. Now they have that confidence. I think it’s a good thing, especially before those important games ahead of us.”

Slovenia was coming off a 3-2 overtime win over the Americans, but was overmatched on Friday. The Russian win was the largest margin of victory in an Olympic men’s hockey tournament since Canada beat Austria 6-0 in 2014.

Sergei Mozyakin got the Russians started with a hard shot off Pavel Datysuk’s pass at 18:23 of the first period, and it took only 22 seconds for Kovalchuk to make it 2-0.

The Russians scored four times in 12 minutes during the second period on goals by Alexander Barabanov, Ilya Kablukov, Kaprizov and Kovalchuk.

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Jan Mursak — who got two goals against the United States — scored Slovenia’s first goal off a pass from Miha Verlic in the second period. But Kaprizov scored two more in the third as the Russians pulled away.

Slovenia forward Ziga Pance made it 8-2 late in the game.

Russian goaltender Vasili Koshechkin allowed one goal off eight shots before being replaced after the second period by Ilya Sorokin, who made six saves off seven shots. Luka Gracnar allowed eight goals off 34 shots in Slovenia’s goal.

Even though the International Olympic Committee has barred Russian athletes from competing under their own flag because of doping at the 2014 Sochi Games, there were plenty of Russian flags in the stands. In the first period, there were two large banners depicting the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin and messages of support for the country’s hockey team.

Police and security intervened and the banners were removed. IOC rules bar political statements at Olympic events.

USA men’s hockey bounces back with 2-1 victory over Slovakia

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By Pete Blackburn – CBS SPORTS

Team USA desperately needed a bounce-back win after dropping its tournament-opener to Slovenia in shocking fashion. The Americans got it on Thursday night against Slovakia. A pair of goals from USA’s Ryan Donato powered the Americans to a 2-1 win over the Slovaks.

With the victory, Team USA earns three points and jumps to the top of the Group B table for the time being. The loss is Slovakia’s first of the tournament; it follows a big upset win over the Olympic Athletes of Russia on Wednesday.

The Americans seemed to play with a lot more aggression and confidence than they did in their opener, and it helped make the difference on Thursday — especially in a tight game down the stretch.

Donato got the United States out to an early 1-0 lead with a power play goal 7:10 into the first period. It was the first goal of the tournament for the 21-year-old, who plays for Harvard and is a Boston Bruins prospect.

 It also likely provided a nice boost of confidence for the youngster after a rough finish to Wednesday’s game, when Donato’s blown coverage in overtime led, in part, to Slovenia’s game-winning goal. The Americans’ top line of Donato, Mark Arcobello and Troy Terry was very impressive on Thursday.

However, the United States’ lead didn’t last long.

The Slovaks answered just 25 seconds later on a deflection along the goal line that snuck past USA goaltender Ryan Zapolski, tying the game 1-1. The goal was credited to Slovakia’s Andrej Kudrna, and it was definitely one that Zapolski would have liked to have back.

A sluggish and scoreless second period left the game deadlocked at 1-1, but Donato found the back of the net with another power play goal just a few minutes into the third frame. After receiving a pass along the goal line, Donato used a nifty move to position himself to get a puck on net down low. His shot found the Slovakian goaltender’s five hole and reclaimed the lead for USA, 2-1.

That score ultimately went final, but not before Slovakia managed to force some pressure with the extra skater late. This time around, the United States managed to hold the line and come away victorious, which should restore a little bit of confidence following Wednesday’s crushing loss.

Zapolski made 21 saves in net for the U.S. and managed to come up big when the Americans were on the penalty kill.

Next up, the Americans will take on the Olympic Athletes from Russia early Saturday morning.