Month: April 2019 (page 1 of 3)

Thailand swat aside Malaysia to win IIHF Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia

Thailand improved on last year’s third-place finish at the IIHF Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia

Inside the Games

Thailand stormed to success at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia after crushing Malaysia 9-2 in Abu Dhabi.

Nuchanat Ponglerkdee scored three goals in the emphatic win at Zayed Sports City Ice Rink in the United Arab Emirates venue.

Also on the score sheet were Minsasha Teekhathanasaku, Pijittra Saejear, Varachanant Boonyubol, Panvipa Suksirivecharuk, Wirasinee Rattananai and Kwanchanok Chueyklang. 

Adilah Junid and Aisha Nuval Othman grabbed consolation goals for Malaysia. 

Victory saw Thailand take the overall title with 10 points in the round-robin table, an upgrade from their bronze medal at the 2018 edition.

Chinese Taipei confirmed their second-place finish following a 3-0 victory against New Zealand’s under-18s.

They finished on nine points, ahead of Singapore on six.

New Zealand were fourth on five points, while Malaysia ended fifth having lost every match.

PH women’s ice hockey tops 2019 Challenge Cup of Asia

The Philippine women’s ice hockey team concedes only one goal during its title run

By Beatrice Go – Rappler

The Philippine women’s ice hockey team sweeps the tournament’s Division 1 to gain promotion to the 2020 Challenge Cup of Asia

The Philippine women’s ice hockey team bagged a gold medal in the 2019 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia division 1 on Friday, April 19 (Saturday, April 20, Manila time) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Nationals, which won a bronze in the previous edition, capped their campaign with a narrow 2-1 win over host country UAE to sweep the tournament and gain promotion to the Challenge Cup of Asia tournament in 2020.

Bianca Cuevas, the tournament’s top scorer, scored the opening goal for the Philippines 57 seconds into the match thanks to a two-minute penalty on UAE’s Fatima Al Ali for tripping.

Even as the Philippines struggled during a penalty-laden 2nd period, Danielle Imperial managed to slot in the country’s second goal for a 2-0 cushion at the 39:53 mark of the game.

UAE attempted to rally back, but Dana Alhosani wound up scoring the team’s lone goal at 56:53.

The Philippines’ goaltender Rosalyn Lim only conceded one goal in the tournament as the Nationals trounced Kuwait, 10-0, and blanked India, 5-0.

Serbia’s gold spree

The Serbian players celebrate with the trophy on home ice in Belgrade after winning the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division II Group B and earning their first Division I appearance in ten years.

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

In a roller-coaster ride of the tournament, with a seemingly never-ending supply of twists and turns, Serbia won gold at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships Division II Group A in Belgrade.

Down but never out, Marko Brkusanin became Serbia’s hero when he coolly slotted home the game-winning penalty shot against Spain and lifted the hosts into the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships Division I Group B.

A desperate Serbian team had only been in fourth place, when they were offered a lifeline in their final game against Spain. Blueliner Stefan Boskovic drew them level with 28 seconds left of the third period before Serbia´s netminder Arsenije Rankovic then saved three out of four Spanish penalty shots as 1,276 cheering home fans lifted the roof inside Belgrade´s Ice Rink Pionir.

Serbia’s 3-2 win over Spain marks the end of a historical season and possibly the start of a new exciting chapter for Serbian hockey.

This means a lot to us. Never before has our national teams won three gold medals in one season. It’s a great thing for the promotion of hockey in Serbia.
Marko Milovanovic
President Serbian Ice Hockey Association

Serbia´s U20 and U18 national teams had already won gold at their respective World Championships at Division IIB level. Now they were joined by the senior team who won Serbia´s third consecutive gold medal this season and their first one at senior level since 2009. 17-year-old prospect Marko Dragovic played an integral part in Serbia´s success this season winning gold in all three categories.

En route to their gold, Serbia first saw off Croatia (3-1) before losing to Australia (2-3). They bounced back with straight wins against China (6-5) and Belgium (6-3) before finally toppling Spain following a nerve-racking final round of games.

Serbia´s final day celebrations was made possible thanks to neighbours Croatia, who earlier that day edged Australia, the leader of the standings after four days, 2-1. Both teams then watched on as Serbia collected their gold medals while dwelling on what could have been.

Croatia, who came within an earshot of gold, had to settle for silver, while Australia who entered the final day in pole position, finished up with the bronze medals. At the other end of the table, Belgium got relegated to Division IIB after losing the deciding game for fifth place to China.

Aleksa Lukovic´s goal after 4:10 had put Serbia ahead against Spain. Gaston Gonzalez hit back with an equaliser at 26:03. An Oriol Rubio power-play goal at 46:34 got Spain ahead and temporarily silenced the home crowd before Serbia´s last gasp leveller got their promotion campaign back on track and take the game into overtime, which finished goalless.

The influential Rubio scored Spain´s sole penalty marker in the shootout, while Serbia’s 20-year-old Mirko Djumic, voted the best forward of the tournament, also coolly slotted home his penalty in the shootout.

“After the shootouts and all the excitement I was shaking, but our players were used to this as they were three goals behind against China earlier in the tournament,” said Milovanovic.

During game day three against China, Serbia appeared to have dug themselves into a hole. With just over 11 minutes left of the game, China was cruising with a 5-2 lead. A frantic fightback saw Serbia score three unanswered goals to draw level with 1:36 to go. Then newly appointed head coach Alexandre Dandenault went for bust in what in hindsight turned out to be a masterstroke.

With 14 seconds left of the third frame and with netminder Rankovic pulled from the net, 19-year-old debutant Viktor Kastel sealed all three points for Serbia as team morale got a monumental boost.

In my opinion, it was the China game that changed everything for us in this tournament. We showed great character to never give up until the end.
Marko Sretovic
Serbia Captain

With his 5 points (3+2) Sretovic was Serbia´s joint top-scorer and together with Stefan Ilic, the two sole survivors on the roster who last won gold for Serbia at senior level. At the 2009 IIHF World Championship Division II Group B Sretovic tasted success and promotion in Novi Sad in what was different times for Serbian hockey.

“At that time hockey was at the highest level in Serbia. That team was more experienced. This year we have many young players with a lot of speed who helped us to win many of our games,” said Sretovic, who after winning his second gold at senior level has come full circle in a long and distinguished national team career.

“This was my absolute last season for the national team. I wanted to finish where everything once started,” said Belgrade-born Sretovic as he expects next season to be a stern test for his compatriots playing at a much higher level.

“It will be very tough, much harder than this. We need more preparation and a training camp as the guys should be ready to work hard with a lot of defending to be expected. I hope the head coach (Dandenault) and the staff will continue for next year,” said Sretovic.

It’s a five-peat for U.S.!

Team USA celebrates after winning Women’s World Championship gold for the fifth consecutive time

By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com

Annie Pankowski scored twice, including the shootout winner, as the U.S. claimed a wild 2-1 victory over Finland in the 2019 Women’s Worlds gold medal game. It’s the fifth straight American world title.

The host Finns, who won their first silver medal ever, were heartbroken after they thought they’d won it all in overtime. Goalie Noora Raty put on a goaltending clinic on her hometown ice in Espoo, as the U.S. outshot Finland 52-27.

“Obviously that was such an exciting game for them to take us to a shootout,” said U.S. goalie Alex Rigsby, who conceded just one goal to Minttu Tuominen on four Finnish shootout attempts. “Props to Noora. She played an unbelievable game. I think it’s really great for the sport as well, for us to be able to play against Finland and for them to come out and get a silver medal here in their home country.

In regulation time, Susanna Tapani scored for Finland.

“Sport is tough and hard sometimes, but after the game you need to accept what is in the scoreboard,” said Finnish captain and tournament MVP Jenni Hiirikoski. “Life goes on, and we will be super proud of what we have done here.”

It’s the eighth time in nine years that the Americans have prevailed, their string only broken by Canada in 2012.

“We have a really special group,” said Hilary Knight, who led the tournament with seven goals and 11 points and was named to the all-star team. “I can’t say it enough. It’s really magical to be in our room and something we try to cultivate every single time we get together.”

This is the second straight year an IIHF women’s final has been decided in a shootout. But this thriller was even more over-the-top and unimaginable than PyeongChang, where the U.S.’s Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s goal and Maddie Rooney’s final save on Canada’s Meghan Agosta were the difference.

The 4-on-4 sudden-death overtime was full of wild incidents.

Petra Nieminen thought she had scored the deciding goal at 11:33 of overtime. Hiirikoski made an end-to-end rush and her initial shot was stopped by Rigsby. As Rigsby slid out of the net and Hiirikoski made contact, with the U.S.’s Kacey Bellamy right on top of her, Nieminen banged the rebound into the gaping cage.

A lengthy video review ensued, reminiscent of when Canada’s Anson Carter scored in overtime on Sweden’s Mikael Tellqvist in the 2003 IIHF World Championship gold medal game. When the officials waved the goal off for apparent goalie interference, the fans howled in derision.

“It almost would have been easier if we’d lost 5-0,” said Raty. “I’d probably be happier right now. But we were so close. We could taste it — “Holy cow, we’re world champs” — and they take it away.”

Asked how confident she was that it was not a goal, Rigsby offered: “I was very confident. I was trying to rally the team up so they weren’t getting too down. Obviously it was a long break for them to try to figure it out. But for me to get interfered with like that, it shouldn’t be a goal.”

The Finns did get a power play, as Rigsby was also called for tripping on the play, but they couldn’t capitalize, and also couldn’t score when Megan Keller was called for slashing at the end of overtime. Earlier in overtime, the U.S. narrowly failed to capitalize with Finland’s Venla Hovi in the box.

Finland’s first silver medal ever is an incredible achievement, especially considering that most observers figured the host nation was bound for bronze for the 13th time at this tournament. No European nation has ever played in the final before. As great as the 18 previous all-North American derbies have been, this tilt proved definitively that Finnish female players can dazzle at the highest level too.

“I hope a lot of little girls were watching today and they can start dreaming of playing in the finals,” Raty said. “I’ve been in a bronze medal game too many times. Sometimes you just want more. We’ve always believed we can do this, but still a lot of people didn’t give us a chance. So proud of my teammates.”

Even though the Finnish women couldn’t complete their own answer to the U.S. men’s 1980 Olympic “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviets in Lake Placid, what happened in Espoo over the last 11 days should retain a certain fairy-tale quality for Finnish fans.

This final was always destined to hinge on Raty’s ability to deny America’s overwhelming firepower. The U.S. entered the final with 39 goals-for to Finland’s 20.

The energy was through the ceiling at Espoo’s Metro Areena, starting with the pre-game introductions. The first period raced by at an extraordinary tempo, and the entire game was pure flow and thrills.

“I think this is Finland’s best team we’ve ever seen,” Knight said.”You’ve got to tip the cap to them. They played a great game. They locked us down when they needed to and got bounces when they needed to. It’s great for women’s hockey to have different teams in the final.”

While the Americans outshot Finland 17-4 in the first, Raty showed some Patrick Roy-like swagger with the way she caught and deflected pucks.

The hosts did a good job of keeping shots mostly to the outside and competed hard in one-on-one battles. And while it was defence-first for coach Pasi Mustonen’s troops, gone are the days when Finland simply hangs back and clogs up the neutral zone. The Finnish flag-waving crowd of 6,053 mounted exuberant chants of “Suomi!” to counter the minority cries of “USA!”

The U.S finally opened the scoring at 15:46 of the second period. Pankowski got the puck from U.S. captain Kendall Coyne Schofield, crossed the blue line on the right side and used Hiirikoski as a decoy to beat Raty low to the glove side. It was her fourth goal of the tournament.

With 1:31 left in the second period, the building exploded when Tapani notched the equalizer for Finland. Inside the U.S. blueline at the right point, Nieminen grabbed the puck and sent a diagonal cross-ice pass into the left faceoff circle for Tapani, who zapped it high past Rigsby on the stick side. Tapani got hot in these playoffs, notching the quarter-final winner against the Czech Republic and the semi-final winner against Canada.

Raty, who stepped up again in overtime with 14 saves, said: “I thought I made a lot of great saves, but if you want to win something, your goalie needs to be good.”

In 1849, the definitive version of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic poem, was published. Now, 170 years later, the Finnish women’s national hockey team has begun to forge its own legend — even if it is written in silver letters rather than gold.

“It was a huge step for us, but we were here to win gold today,” said Michelle Karvinen. “It’ll take a little time to get over this, but I’m still proud of the team.”

In 18 previous Women’s Worlds meetings, Finland had just one win (1-0 in overtime in 2008) and one tie (1-1 in 1997) versus the Americans. The Finns have lost eight straight Olympic games to the U.S.

Of her own future, Raty said: “I have to take a summer off and see what I want to do with my career. A lot is going to depend on what is going to happen with the North American leagues. Obviously I’m under a China contract, and now that we don’t have a league in the CWHL, I have to see what China is going to decide, if I’m going to go back or not. I think there’s a lot of moving parts.”

Earlier, the Canadians settled for bronze after beating Russia 7-0. Canada holds the record for the most consecutive Women’s Worlds golds with eight straight between 1990 and 2004, and 10 in total. This was the ninth American gold.

Looking at the months to come, Knight said: “I think our sport’s in great hands. We have a lot of talented, young, powerful women that feel empowered to shape the future of this sport as they see fit. So you’re going to see some probably exciting times in women’s hockey to come.”

In 2020, will the Americans make it six in a row? Can Canada return to the top of the podium? Or will the Finns go all the way? Join us again next year at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Canada thrashes Russia for bronze

The Canadian players pose for a team photo after beating Russia for the bronze medal at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship

By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com

It might be the consolation prize, but it’s still a prize. Canada earned its first IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship bronze medal ever with a 7-0 win over Russia in Espoo on Sunday.

The Canadians will need time to fully assess what went wrong for them at this tournament. They played solid hockey and came second in Group A, but then suffered a dramatic 4-2 semi-final loss to the fired-up host Finns on Saturday. Never before has a Women’s Worlds concluded without a Canada-U.S. showdown for gold.

Instead, it’s the U.S. versus Finland in the final.

“It’s definitely not the medal that we came here to get, but I mean, even just participating at the World Championship and coming home with a medal is a huge honour,” said rookie Canadian defender Jaime Bourbonnais. “It was a great game today, and I thought we stuck together, even though we had a tough loss last night.”

Canada hasn’t won the Women’s Worlds since now-assistant coach Caroline Ouellette scored the 5-4 overtime winner against the U.S. in the 2012 gold medal game. That’s a long drought for the country that invented hockey. Only seven players from 2012 returned with this year’s team.

In IIHF history, the Canadian women own four Olympic gold medals, plus 10 Women’s Worlds gold medals and eight silver medals. On the bright side, Canada’s medal streak extends to 19 straight Women’s Worlds.

Against the Russians, first-year phenom Loren Gabel scored twice for Canada. Natalie Spooner, Rebecca Johnston, Jamie Lee Rattray, and Erin Ambrose tallied a goal and an assist apiece for Canada. Bourbonnais got her first career Women’s Worlds goal. Sarah Nurse and Renata Fast added two assists apiece.

“Today, we had to try to have that energy and find ways to bring it, even when it’s those tough games that you really didn’t want to be playing in,” said Spooner. “I think we found a way and we brought it.”

The outmatched Russians failed in their bid to capture their fourth Women’s Worlds medal. The previous three medals were all bronze (2001, 2013, 2016). An inability to clamp down defensively like the Finns – historically their main competition for bronze – or even the Japanese – who limited the powerful Americans to a 4-0 quarter-final win – stung coach Alexei Chistyakov’s skillful players.

“You see the score,” said Russia’s Alexandra Vafina. “The gap is big and we just need to work harder to get it equal at least. It’s sad that we got the same mistakes which we did before in the regular games. That’s probably the saddest thing, because we need to learn from each game. We’re still learning from this one. It’s a tough lesson, but what else can we do? Just keep going and don’t give up. Still work hard and practice hard.”

An old Canadian adage came to mind in regard to Russia’s performance: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” (Wayne Gretzky). The Russians were outshot 41-6 at Metro Areena. The single-game tournament record for the fewest shots on goal by a team in one game is 2, shared by Kazakhstan (in a 13-0 loss to Canada on 3 April, 2005) and Switzerland (in a 7-1 loss to the U.S. on 6 April, 2008).

Canadian hockey fans can recall occasions when their men’s team wasn’t able to bring its best in the battle for third place due to a “gold or bust mentality,” from the 3-2 loss to Finland at the 1998 Olympics in Japan to the 4-1 defeat against the U.S. at the 2018 Worlds in Denmark. However, that wasn’t going to be a problem for coach Perry Pearn’s troops.”At times in this tournament, I think we played extremely well to the point where we could challenge the U.S. in a gold-medal game, if we do the things we have to do,” said Pearn. “The flipside of that was last night we saw a game [versus Finland] where we got under pressure a little bit and we reverted right back to the old way of playing.”

Both Russia and Canada started the same netminders as in Canada’s 5-1 round-robin win: Genevieve Lacasse and Nadezhda Morozova. It was just Lacasse’s second start here, and she got her first career Women’s Worlds shutout. The 29-year-old Montreal native, who first played for Canada at the 2015 tournament in Sweden, backstopped Canada to a 2-1 group stage win over the U.S. at last year’s Olympics.

The Canadians kept the Russians virtually pinned in their zone from the get-go. At 6:08, Spooner, who scored a hat trick in the 5-1 round-robin win over Russia, grabbed the puck in the corner to Morozova’s left and circled the net to open the scoring on a wraparound. It was the veteran power forward’s sixth goal of these Women’s Worlds

Spooner, who became the first player to win both an Olympic gold medal and a CWHL Clarkson Cup with the Toronto Furies in the same year (2014), also converted two wraparounds on Morozova in the round-robin game.

Post-game, Spooner reflected on the sudden demise of the CWHL, which officially shuts down on 1 May: “I felt like our league was going so well. Is there a bigger picture to this? Obviously we want something better. We want one league. We want what we deserve as female hockey players. I think that there’s obviously a lot of questions and I’m not even sure they’ll get answered. But hopefully if we’re united and we stand strong, we can get what we deserve and make something that has never been around for women’s hockey. “

Bourbonnais made it 2-0 at 15:31 with a nice, rising slapshot from just outside the right faceoff circle.

“It was a great feeling,” said Bourbonnais. “It was a great pass from Sarah Nurse. Just playing on this team is amazing. It’s been a dream of mine since I was little. So to be able to score was a surreal feeling.”

Top Canadian blueliner Laura Fortino saw time at forward in the absence of Blayre Turnbull, who was injured in the loss to Finland. At the intermission, Turnbull, scratched top goalie Shannon Szabados, and injured captain Marie-Philip Poulin were all seen walking down from the stands to support their teammates in the Canadian dressing room.

In the second period, the Canadian target practice continued. At 9:38, Johnston caught Morozova flat-footed with her quick five-hole shot from the left faceoff circle to put Canada up 3-0.

The game then witnessed a litany of sloppy penalties, mostly to Russia. However, Canada neglected to extend its lead with the power play in the second period.

At 3:09 of the third, Gabel capitalized on a giveaway by the Russia netminder to make it 4-0. The 21-year-old has been a bright spot for Team Canada in Finland.

“We now have what I would call a legitimate natural goalscorer,” said Pearn.

Rattray got Canada’s first power play goal of the evening at 8:13 on a video-reviewed deflection. Fortino, unfortunately, hobbled off after getting tangled up in a collision with an opponent, and stayed off. At least her teammates had the game well in hand.

“Coming into the game, we definitely wanted to hold ourselves accountable to do the little things and have our habits,” said Spooner. “Because that’s what’s going to win us games.”

Ambrose swooped in from the point to collect a loose puck and roof it home for another power play marker and a 6-0 edge at 14:21. And Gabel scored again on a breakaway less than a minute later, tying her with Spooner for the team lead in goals (six). Russia yanked Morozova in favor of Anna Prugova to close out the game.

“We’re a tight group and this is probably one of the tightest Team Canadas I’ve ever been a part of,” said Ambrose. “So I’m really happy we were able to stand on that line and hear our anthem. Not the colour we wanted, but it’s stll a proud moment to hear your anthem at the end of the day.”

Overall, there are some positive indications for the Russians. While they clearly have a long way to go before they can compete effectively with the North Americans, their program has not regressed. Russia has now come fifth or better at eight of the last nine Women’s Worlds.

More investment, ice time, coaching, and general prioritization of women’s hockey could spur improved results in the future for a country that produces some of the world’s most talented male players. We’ll wait and see what happens when Russia comes to Canada for the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia.

“We need more young girls to recruit so we can feel the competition between us,” Vafina said. “Then we can grow. We need to practice and keep in the back of our mind that there’s somebody else who’s better, and you have to do every day better than yesterday, you know? Work needs to be done in every field.”

Hungarian women earn historic promotion

The Hungarian players celebrate historic gold at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A and will for the first time play in the top division of this category

By Szabolcs Zavodszky – IIHF.com

Host Hungary won the gold medals at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A in Budapest by only having one blemish on its record which was a shootout lose to Slovakia. They will be promoted together with second-ranked Denmark.

“This is a sweet taste since there was tremendous pressure on the team. We played against some hard opponents as we battled for promotion, this is a great feeling right now. We needed to play as a team and not rely on two or three key players,” said Hungary’s head coach Pat Cortina after the last game, a win against neighbour Austria.

Heading into the tournament there were no clear-cut favourites to win the group but it did make things easier that the top-two teams in the group were to move up to the top division with the new format and ten teams. Hungary and Denmark will replace Sweden and France for the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Halifax, Canada.

Everyone knew that a loss would not eliminate the chances of promotion but make things harder. When asked just about what their expectation were for the tournament, almost every head coach said the same. That they will be taking the tournament one game at a time but they feel that they have a team that can earn promotion to play in Halifax next year.

Back to Budapest, the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A started off with Denmark getting past Slovakia by the score of 3-1 thanks to a brace by Josephine Jakobsen. In the second game of the opening day Hungary just got past Norway 2-1 as Averi Nooren scored a goal and helped set up one as well. The opening day closed out with Austria cruising past Italy 4-1, Theresa Schafzahl closed out the match with two goals.

All six teams were back on the ice the following day, Denmark got past Italy 6-1 as all six goals were scored by someone different. Hungary hit a road bump as they lost to Slovakia 2-1 in sudden death shootout. Norway squeaked out a one goal win in a game that produced nine goals in total. After the second day the two Scandinavian countries were sitting at the top of the standings.

Silver makes happy if you earn promotion. Denmark will play at the top-level Women’s Worlds for only the second time after 1992

2019 Worlds: USA and Finland to meet in gold medal game

By

After nine thrilling days, the 2019 IIHF World Championship are down to the final moments.

Canada, who fell to the host nation in the semifinal, will meet Russia at 9 a.m. EST on the bronze medal game. Canada has never won anything less than a silver medal while Russia has won three bronze medals.

It’s a curious time for the Canadian National Team. They haven’t won an international tournament since the 2014 Sochi Olympics. They’ll still be missing star and captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who suffered a lower-body injury in her final regular-season CWHL game.

Despite needlessly dressing for the Clarkson Cup Final, Poulin did not play in the CWHL playoffs. She came to Finland with numerous questions regarding her fitness only to play one game and appeared to reinjure her knee in the process. In the semifinal, forward Blayre Turnbull left the game with the injury.

In preliminary play, Canada beat Russia, 5-1.

In the gold medal game, Finland will meet the US at 1 p.m. EST. This marks the first time in Worlds history that the final will not feature both the US and Canada. The US is in pursuit of their fifth-straight and ninth total gold medal while Finland is looking for their first placement higher than bronze.

The US’s path to the gold medal game hasn’t seen many roadblocks. They have yet to lose a game, including two steamrollings of Russia in both the preliminaries and the semifinal. Their only real test was Canada in the preliminaries, thought Japan put up a much better fight in the quarterfinals than many expected. They’ve been relatively healthy, at least compared to other teams.

Finland could possibly be without legendary defender Jenni Hiirikoski, who left the semifinal after appearing to take a stick to her head. Losing her would be a huge blow to the team, putting even more pressure on goaltender Noora Räty.

In the preliminaries, the United States best Finland, 2-6.

Dutch women fly to Div. IA

The Netherlands’ women’s national team celebrates after winning the last game against Poland.

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

The Netherlands were flying high at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group B in the Chinese capital of Beijing. As last-seeded team they beat all five opponents with a clean record to earn the second promotion in two years and play at Division I Group A level. It’s the first time ever the Netherlands earned promotion to the second-highest level in women’s senior hockey.

With the win the Dutch finish 17th overall in the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Program and close to the highest ranking position ever, 16th (in 1999, 2013 and 2015), a place they could improve next year.

The Netherlands have played among the third-tier nations for most of the 2000s but suffered relegation in 2016. Last year they won the Division II Group A with a 5-0 record and now continued their streak with five more wins and as one of very few teams to win an IIHF championship as lowest-seeded team.

A 5-2 win against top-seeded Korea on the opening day was followed by a 3-1 victory against Kazakhstan. In front of 1,570 spectators at the new Shougang Ice Rink in a former factory the Dutch also blanked host country China, 4-0, before beating second-seeded Latvia 3-1.

On the last day only Poland had a chance to take over the Dutch with a regulation time win. The Poles, one of the newer women’s teams in their third year at this level, won all games except the one against Korea before the last day. Although the Dutch outshot the Poles 46-13 it indeed became the tightest game for the orange-and-white team. After a scoreless opening frame captain Savine Wielenga opened the scoring 30 seconds into the second period. The game remained open for a while until at 8:52 Zoe Barbier sealed the win with the second goal.

It was already the second shutout for Nadia Zijlstra, who had an excellent tournament with a 95.89% save percentage that was only beaten by Latvia’s Kristiana Apsite (96.26%), the busiest goaltender with 206 saves and 214 shots on goal who was awarded the Best Goaltender award. Chaelin Park of Korea was named best defender while Wielenga was voted best forward by the directorate. The 30-year-old Dutch forward led the tournament in points (10) and goals (8). Korea’s Jongah Park also had 10 points (6+4) while Poland’s Karolina Pozniewska finished third with nine points (5+4).

Top-seeded Korea with many players from last year’s Unified Korean team at the Olympics couldn’t weather the Dutch storm on the first day and also lost to China on the second day. Wins over Poland (4-3), Kazakhstan (5-1) and Latvia (4-1) propelled the team to a silver-medal finish with 9 points, same as Poland, which won bronze.

For host China the tournament went the other way than Korea’s. The host nation of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games started with two wins against Latvia and Korea but then lost the other three and fell to fourth place. Kazakhstan saved its place in the group on the last day while Latvia has been relegated as last-ranked team with only four goals in five games.

PH Hockey Team moves on, preps for SEA Games

Steven Fuglister of the PH Hockey team receiving his MVP award at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Challenge Cup of Asia held recently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

By Brian Yalung – Manila Bulletin

After bagging the silver medal at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Challenge Cup of Asia held from Mar. 1 to 9 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Philippine Hockey team diverts its focus on the upcoming SEA Games.

According to team captain and tournament Most Valuable Player Steven Fuglister, they will be playing in a couple of tournaments aside from holding their regular team practices.

“We will play in two amateur tournaments as preparation for the 2019 SEA Games. One will be in June here in Manila, the Philippine Ice Hockey Tournament and in October we will go to Bangkok to compete in the Land of Smiles Tournament,” said Fuglister in an exclusive interview with Manila Bulletin Sports.

“Those will be our two major preparation events that we have for the SEA Games in November besides our regular team practices,” he added.

Falling short of winning it all, Fuglister bared how he told the team to charge their performance to experience.

“After the game, I think everyone was devastated in the locker room. We certainly aspired for more but I told the team that we should write this off as a learning experience, especially that we brought in a lot of players for the first time. I am confident that our players will learn from this game and come out stronger moving forward,” said Fuglister.

Prior to the unfortunate ending, the team captain revealed their game plan and how the Philippines had what it takes to take down the defending champion.

“We went undefeated during the preliminary round and went into the gold medal match confident and with a positive feeling especially after beating Mongolia in our first matchup (We also beat them in the 2018 CCOA in Manila). Our game plan was to score first and control the game from there on out, Fuglister said.

Unfortunately, Mongolia had other plans. They were able to figure out the Filipino puzzle and costly mistakes did the PH Hockey team in.

“Those plans got thrown out as Mongolia went ahead 3:0 in the first period. That might have thrown us off a bit but we believed in our strength, regrouped and came back to tie the game 3:3 later in the game. Then some individual mistakes happened and the experienced players from Mongolia took advantage of that,” Fuglister shared.

As to being adjudged the MVP of the tournament, Fuglister admits he is honored by the recognition but would trade it for the gold medal anytime.

“Personal awards, in general, are a nice recognition for all the work put in as an individual. But there’s a reason why I play a team sport. I want to succeed with my team and I would have traded the MVP Award any time of the day for the gold medal. Since the MVP gets chosen by representatives of the other teams, of course, it’s an honor being recognized for your efforts,” he said.

2019 Worlds: Quarterfinals recap

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USA, Canada, Russia, and Finland are moving on to the semifinals!

Quarterfinals

United States beat Japan, 4-0

Goals

  • United States – Hilary Knight, Dani Cameranesi, Cayla Barnes, Kendall Coyne Schofield
  • Japan – n/a

This one ended up being pretty close, much closer than many expected for the quarterfinal round. After one period, Team USA led by just one goal, and after two periods, it was a 2-0 game. Japan couldn’t get much offense going in front of Nana Fujimoto, though, who had 49 saves.

Canada beat Germany, 5-0

Goals

  • Canada – Blayre Turnbull (2), Brianne Jenner, Laura Stacey, Natalie Spooner
  • Germany – n/a

We saw another outstanding goaltending performance from the Group B side, with Jennifer Harß making 56 saves for the Germans, but the Canadians rolled on to the semifinals. Shots on goal were 66-9 in favor of Canada.

Russia beat Switzerland, 3-0

Goals

  • Russia – Anna Shokhina, Yelena Dergachyova, Alevtina Shtaryova
  • Switzerland – n/a

Russia came out swinging in this one, outshooting the Swiss 18-1 through the first period and 44-14 for the game. Andrea Brändli was excellent in net for Switzerland to keep them in it, but this was a good statement win for the Russians heading into the semifinals.

Finland vs. Czech Republic, 3-1

Goals

  • Finland – Michelle Karvinen, Susanna Tapani, Jenni Hiirikoski
  • Czech Republic – Natálie Mlýnková

The Czech Republic struck first after a scoreless first period with a goal 1:31 into the second, but the Finns notched three straight goals to advance to the semifinals. The game-tying goal and Jenni Hiirikoski’s insurance goal that put Finland up 3-1 in the third period were both scored on the power play. Michelle Karvinen and Hiirikoski both finished with three-point nights and Noora Räty stopped 16 of the 17 shots she faced; Klára Peslarová made 40 saves for the Czech Republic.

Ninth-Place Game

Sweden beat France, 3-2

Goals

  • Sweden – Sofie Lundin, Emma Nordin, Isabell Palm
  • France – Clara Rozier, Chloé Aurard

There is no relegation round this year, with both France and Sweden moving down a tier next year, but they battled out to decide ninth place in the tournament. Sweden outshot France, 34-26, but the French kept it a pretty close game. Goaltender Caroline Baldin made 31 saves, and Aurard scored another big goal to pull France within one at the end of the third. Sweden ended up prevailing, thanks in large part to good performances from Winberg and Nordin, who each posted a goal and an assist.

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