Category: Olympics (page 2 of 16)

Beijing 2022 possible for NHL, but long way off

Image result for beijing olympics logo

By The Canadian Press

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says participation in the 2022 Olympics in China is possible but not essential to the league’s efforts to grow the sport in the world’s largest country.

The NHL was criticized by the International Olympic Committee and fans for not allowing NHL players to compete in the recent Olympics in South Korea.

After letting them play in the previous five Olympics, the NHL said it didn’t want to disrupt the midseason schedule or risk players to serious injury this year.

The China games, however, could be different as the NHL eyes an untapped market of 1.4 billion people.

“I’m not making any news today, I will say certainly it’s a possibility,” Daly said while speaking at the annual SXSW Interactive conference on a panel about the NHL’s efforts to grow hockey in China. “We have (a couple) of years to kind of make that decision … I don’t think it’s a critical element to our being able to grow the sport in China … I don’t think it’s an essential.”

Daily said the NHL owners thought long and hard before deciding not to allow NHL players to compete in the Olympics in South Korea.

“In South Korea, we felt ultimately there were a lot more negatives than positives than going,” Daley said. “I expect we’ll go through the exact same process (before 2022) … There may be more positives to participating in Beijing.”

The NHL clearly has a business eye on China.

The league and teams have held regular youth and coaching clinics in Shanghai, Beijing and other Chinese cities. Last September, the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks played the league’s first exhibition game in China. The NHL also has an agreement with Bloomage International Group, a Chinese-based company with a focus on developing sports in the country.

“There’s a lot of potential NHL fans there, a lot of potential NHL players there,” Daly said.

There’s also competition. The Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League, has already established a professional team in China, the Kunlun Red Star, before the 2016-2017 season.

“Right now China is one of, if not the, hottest markets in the world. Everyone wants to get in there,” said David Proper, executive vice-president of media and international strategy for the NHL.

Yet hockey still barely registers in China. According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, China has less than 12,000 registered junior players and less than 500 rinks around the country.

“China is a hip market, but there is zero infrastructure,” said Jessica Guo, deputy general manager for Bloomage.

As host for the next Winter Games, the Chinese government is making a push to increase participation in all winter sports. The NHL has approached the government about introducing hockey-based games into middle school physical education programs, Proper said.

The NHL’s goal in China is to “build a permanent presence, building a hockey infrastructure, a hockey culture,” Daly said. “That’s not just rinks. It’s equipment and coaching. Unlike other countries we’ve played games in, this is a new market for hockey. We realize our obligation is to build the base.”

Datsyuk joins Triple Gold Club

By Andrew Podnieks

Datsyuk won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002 and 2008, and he won World Championship gold with Russia in 2012. And now he won Olympic gold with the Olympic Athletes from Russia in an overtime win in the final against Germany.

“I’ve not even thought about the Triple Gold Club yet,” he said after the game. “But when it sinks in, I guess I’ll need a new dream to shoot for because all my dreams have come true.”

Additioanlly, Datsyuk has won Olympic bronze (2002), World Championship silver (2010) and bronze (2005, 2016) and played in the World Cup twice (2004, 2016).

Russia had six previous TGC members, including Valeri Kamenski, Alexei Gusarov, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Alexander Mogilny, and Vladimir Malahkov. Datsyuk is the first Russian to join since Malakhov & Mogilny in 2000 after winning the Cup with the Dallas Stars.

Triple Gold Club Members

Olympic Athletes of Russia Win Gold in Instant Classic

By Steven Ellis –

For the first time since the Unified Team of Russian athletes won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics, the Olympic Athletes of Russia have won gold at the 2018 Olympics after an instant classic against Germany, a 4-3 overtime victory.

Germany did a great job of holding on in the first period given the obvious skill level between the more physical, grinding German team and the fast, star-studded Russian squad. Danny Aus den Birken was the king of the night, making 12 saves in the opening period, including two big pad stops on Kirill Kaprizov and Pavel Datsyuk.

But the Germans felt heartbreak with just 0.5 seconds left in the opening period. Nikita Gusev would find former Los Angeles Kings defenceman Slava Voynov a few feet in from the blue line, with Voynov unleashing a hard shot past Aus den Birken to make it 1-0 Russia.

The Germans couldn’t compete with Russia in the skill department, so they’d need to do anything they could to grind out a goal like they had been able to do all tournament long. At 29:32, that’s exactly what they did after Felix Schutz got a weak backhand through the blocker arm of Vasili Koshechkin and in, tying the game at one just before the halfway point of the game.

As if the pressure wasn’t already against Germany, no team had ever lost their first two round-robin games at the Olympics and gone on to win gold. So when Russia scored at 13:21 in the third period to put the pre-tournament favourites back in front, the Germans would need a bit of luck. Gusev would get his second point of the night after forcing Aus den Birken to flinch with a shot near the goalie’s head, putting Russia up by one with time running out.

But 10 seconds later, the Germans knotted it up at two. Dominik Kahun, a former OHL star with the Sudbury Wolves, scored on the one-timer in front of the net after Frank Mauer found him in front, with the young German hockey star giving the underdog nation a chance late in the game.

Russia looked so overpowered heading into the tournament, but that didn’t matter on Sunday. With three minutes to go, Jonas Muller scored the biggest goal in German hockey history when he scored on a hard shot in the high slot, beating Koschechkin to make it 3-2 and put the Germans in the lead. It was Muller’s first ever Olympic point, and after sitting out a game early in the tournament, it was the most important goal Germany had ever scored.

But with 55 seconds left, Gusev, Russia’s best player in the medal round, tied the game up at three. He scored from a nearly impossible angle just a few feet away from the net, somehow beating Aus den Birken while Russia had their net empty to make it 3-3, sending the game to overtime.

One of the greatest games in Olympic history required extra playing time to decide the winner, with both nations looking to get their first gold medal in their current forms. Russia was close with 13 minutes left in OT when Kovalchuk broke in all alone, making a quick deke on Aus den Birken. Kovalchuk thought he beat Aus den Birken on the play, but the German netminder made an incredible left pad save to keep the puck out and keep his team in the game.

Kirill Kaprizov, Russia’s star player at the World Juniors a year ago, would get the job done in overtime. Gusev would grab his fourth point of the night after feeding Kaprizov to the left of the German net, one-timing a hard shot to give the Olympic Athletes of Russia the gold medal, the first time a Russian team has done so since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Canada Secures Bronze Medal After Stopping Late Czech Comeback

By Steven Ellis –

Canada has won their third bronze medal in men’s hockey action in Winter Olympic history, joining the 1956 and 1968 teams with a 6-4 victory over the Czech Republic in PyeongChang, South Korea.

It was a big result for Canada, who lost a shocking 4-3 game to Germany on Friday to eliminate them from contention for the Olympic gold medal for the first time since 2006. For the Czechs, they weren’t able to replicate their success from the round-robin where they defeated Canada in the second game of the tournament for both nations.

For the first time in the Olympics, the Czech Republic found themselves allowing three goals while Pavel Francouz was standing it net. It all began at 8:57 on the power play, Andrew Ebbett scored after missing the past few games with a leg injury when he tipped in Mat Robinson’s shot in front of the net, beating Francouz to make it 1-0.

But 16 seconds later, the Czechs tied it up at one. The record holder for most points in a single Czech league playoff run, Martin Ruzicka tied it up after Kevin Poulin let out a big rebound, tapping in the shot originally taken by Roman Cervenka to make it 1-1.

But only 15 seconds later, Canada took back the lead after some frantic back and forth action. This time, Chris Kelly scored his first goal of the tournament after Cody Goloubef’s shot from the point was tipped at the last second by Canada’s captain, with Kelly putting Canada back out in front to make it 2-1 after some exciting action at both ends of the ice.

The two teams went a few more minutes before Derek Roy made it 3-1. A series of nice passes eventually ended up with Brandon Kozun sending Roy alone in front, with the former Buffalo Sabres forward shooting the puck under the bar to give Canada the two-goal advantage, putting the Czechs down in their worst period of the tournament

Neither team could score again under 45:50 of the contest. Ebbett would grab his second goal of the game after tipping in a feed from Brandon Kozun from near the corner, re-directing the disk over Francouz to make it 4-1.

Just over 30 seconds after that, the Czechs got their second of the night. This time, Jan Kovar scored a controversial goal after launching a wrist shot over Poulin on a delayed penalty call. The Canadians argued that the play should have been waved off after two defenceman touched the puck before the shot was taken, but the goal would stand.

Canada would score one right afterwards to put the game out of reach for the Czechs. Kelly would get his second of the contest after Rob Klinkhammer won a battle in the corner and got the puck out to Kelly, who stepped into the wrist shot from the slot to make it 5-2 for the two-time defending Olympic champions. Roman Cervenka would get two goals late for the Czechs, but Wojtek Wolski would also pot one to help Canada come away with a bronze medal in PyeongChang thanks to a 6-4 victory on Saturday.

Germany to Play for First Olympic Gold Medal After Stunning Canada

By Steven Ellis –

After not even making the Olympics back in 2014, Germany will play for their first-ever gold medal after beating two-time defending champions Canada 4-3 in a thrilling semifinal game on Friday.

The win means Germany will play Russia on Sunday for the championship, besting their third-place finish back from 1932, and West Germany’s same result from 1976. The win is Germany’s first since 1996 in a major tournament, a big difference from their 8-2 loss to Canada with NHLers back in 2010.

The biggest storyline heading into the game was that Canada would not be able to use Ben Scrivens after a shoulder injury that took him out of the game against Finland sidelined him for Friday. Canada’s starting goalie for the entire tournament would be replaced by Kevin Poulin, who, after leading his country to the Spengler Cup championship in December, hadn’t allowed a goal in four per-tournament and Olympic contests, including five shutout periods against Korea and Finland.

But his tournament shutout streak would end at 14:43 in the opening period. With two Canadians in the box, Brooks Macek made it 1-0 Germany after taking Dominik Kahun’s pass and using David Wolf as a screen in front of the net, beating Poulin on the wrist shot to give Germany the advantage.

Five minutes into the second period, Canada found themselves playing some of their worst hockey of the tournament and trailing the Germans 2-0. This time, Matthias Plachta scored on a transition play after taking a feed from Patrick Hager, beating Poulin with the wrist shot to put Canada in a dangerous spot.

If Canada thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. At 6:04, Frank Mauer converted on a great pass from Marcel Goc, taking any wind that Canada had in their sails to make it 3-0, a lead that looked to be too much for Canada.

Or so they thought. Two minutes later on the power-play, Gilbert Brule made it 3-1 after unleashing a hard one-timer past Danny Aus den Birken, giving Canada some hope after the worst start to a game they’ve had in Pyeongchang.

But Germany wasn’t about to let Canada put themselves back in the game. At 12:31, Patrick Hager would get credit for re-directing a shot from Matthias Plachta just three seconds into a power-play opportunity, giving Germany their three-goal advantage back and putting Canada in a tough position heading into the third.

Canada needed a goal to kick off the third period to give them any hope, and with 2:42 done in the period, Mat Robinson scored Canada’s second goal. Robinson would use his speed to break into the German zone before taking a pass from Christian Thomas. Robinson would proceed to use his extra space to cut towards the net and backhand the puck over Aus den Birken, cutting the lead back to two goals.

One of Canada’s best players of the tournament was Derek Roy, but heading into the third period, he had still yet to find the back of the net. That all changed at 49:42 on the power play when Chris Lee made a nice move around a defenceman before setting up Roy for his second point of the night. Roy would bounce the puck off a skate in front of the net, beating Aus den Birken to make it 4-3, giving Canada all the momentum in a tight game. It wouldn’t do enough to change the course of action for Canada, who would lose a stunning 4-3 game to Germany to put them in the bronze medal game.

Russians get chance to end 26-year gold drought

By Lucas Aykroyd

The OAR team will face the winner of the Canada-Germany semi-final on Sunday at 13:10 at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.

Nikita Gusev, Vladislav Gavrikov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for Russia, and towering netminder Vasili Koshechkin, who has allowed just five goals in five games, got his tournament-leading second shutout. Shots favored the Czechs 31-22.

“We’re here for one reason,” said Kovalchuk. “I think we deserve to be in the final and we’ll see that the best team will win.”

No Russian team has won gold at the Olympics since the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) team at the 1992 Albertville Olympics — or even made the final. The 1992 team starring Vyacheslav Bykov and Andrei Khomutov defeated the Canadians with Eric Lindros and Joe Juneau by a 3-1 score.

On balance, coach Oleg Znarok’s team has met expectations here in PyeongChang. With NHL non-participation, 2018 is a prime opportunity for them to take top spot with their glut of KHL talent.

Paced offensively by SKA St. Petersburg’s Gusev and Kovalchuk and CSKA Moscow’s Kirill Kaprizov, the Russians lead the Olympics with 23 goals. After a sloppy 3-2 opening loss to underdog Slovakia, they have trampled their opponents with four straight wins, including 8-2 over Slovenia, 4-0 over the U.S., and 6-1 over Norway.

2018 captain Pavel Datsyuk (Stanley Cup 2002, 2008 and Worlds gold 2012) is now one win away from joining the IIHF’s Triple Gold Club.

Datsyuk told journalists: “We have a bit of time before the final, we have a chance to recover. And if you don’t ask me too many questions, I’ll have more time to recover.”

The Czechs have only one Olympic gold, the historic 1998 Nagano triumph at the first “NHL Olympics.” In that final, Petr Svoboda’s 1-0 goal won it and MVP Dominik Hasek got his second tournament shutout, throwing their Central European nation into ecstasy. But there will be no chants reminiscent of “Hasek to the Castle!” this month in Prague.

The last time the Czechs faced a Russian team in the Olympic playoffs, Tomas Vokoun earned a 28-save shutout in a 3-0 bronze-medal victory in Turin 2006. At least the Czechs still have a shot at repeating that feat against the loser of Canada-Germany. They have proved resilient and canny so far, winning three out of their four previous games by one goal, including a 3-2 quarter-final shootout win over the U.S.

“It’s a tough loss but we have to move forward,” said assistant captain Jan Kovar. “We started with a tough game against Korea, but I think we played better with every game after that. The way the tournament went and the way we played, we’re disappointed because we felt like we could go all the way. But Russia is a great team, so congratulations to them.”

After a scoreless first period, Gusev opened the scoring at 7:47 of the second from the left faceoff circle, converting a cross-ice feed from Datsyuk past goalie Pavel Francouz. The Czechs challenged the play for goalie interference, claiming Kaprizov was the culprit. But video review showed the 20-year-old winger, who led the 2017 World Juniors in scoring, didn’t make contact, and the goal stood.

It was the second goal of the tournament for Gusev, who is second in Olympic scoring with eight points behind Finland’s Eeli Tolvanen (nine points).

“Of course it was important to open the scoring, because it was a tense game and everyone was afraid of making a mistake,” said Datsyuk.

At 8:14, the Russians struck with cobra-like speed to make it 2-0. Ivan Telegin raced down right wing and lifted a perfect backhand saucer pass over blueliner Adam Polasek’s stick to Gavrikrov. The 22-year-old SKA defenceman beat Francouz high to the stick side.

“On the goal, when I broke forward with Telegin, the main thing was that we got the goal,” said Gavrikov. “Right now, it doesn’t matter who puts the puck in the net. My legs took me there and, of course, you’d expect a dish like that from Ivan.”

Kovalchuk, not always disciplined, threatened his team’s momentum when he promptly took a kneeing minor on Jan Kolar. After the Czechs hemmed in the OAR squad but couldn’t score with the man advantage, Kovalchuk rushed back on and slashed the stick out of Polasek’s hands. The man who sparked Russia to gold at the 2008 and 2009 Worlds returned to the sin bin – but again “Kovy” dodged a bullet.

Trailing by two was a bitter pill for the Czechs, who outshot their opponents 15-8 in the second period. And despite pressing valiantly in the final stanza, they could not solve Koshechkin, who has backstopped Metallurg Magnitogorsk to two KHL titles (2015, 2016). Kovalchuk added the empty-netter with 21 seconds left, tying him with Tolvanen and the U.S.’s Ryan Donato for the Olympic goals lead (five).

“The biggest part of tonight’s win was our goalie, and our PK was outstanding,” said Mikhail Grigorenko after his team killed off five minors in total. “The guys were blocking shots all over, working hard and pushing each other. It was great.”

“We’re still able to play for a medal, and that was our goal when we got here,” said Czech defenceman Michal Jordan. “We’re still in the tournament, and we have to get ready for the next game. It’s big for us and we have to play our best game.”

Russia’s last Olympic hockey medal was bronze in Salt Lake City 2002.

A three-time KHL Coach of the Year and Gagarin Cup champion, Znarok has had declining returns with the national team, but will reverse that trend in Korea. At the Worlds, the mustachioed 55-year-old bench boss earned gold in 2014, silver in 2015, and bronze in both 2016 and 2017. It could be time for him to usher in a new golden era in Russian hockey.


By Andrew Podnieks

In fact, the shootout mirrored the game exactly. The U.S. led 1-0, trailed 2-1, and fought back to win both, 3-2. The U.S. goalie, 20-year-old Maddie Rooney, outduelled Canada’s two-time Olympic gold medallist Shannon Szbados to secure the win.

Lamoureux’s winning shootout shot was, as they say, sick. Moving in slowly, she made a couple of left-to-right dekes that had Szabados on her back.
“I was told after the fourth shooter that I was going to be the sixth one if it came to that,” Lamoureux explained. “Coach Stauber asked if I wanted it and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ I came in on a few inside edges, coming in slow. I knew that was what I was going to do. Szabados is a great goalie. She’s an amazing goalie. I knew I had to sell the shot, and I did.”

“I can’t think about anything except pure pride, excitement, and honour for our team,” said winning captain Meghan Duggan. “A lot of us have wanted this since we saw the 1998 team win 20 years ago. To have this experience together, to represent our country is the greatest honour in the world. It’s one of the greatest days of all of our lives.”

The U.S. men won their only gold medals 20 years apart (1960 and 1980), and the women have now done the same thing. They won in 1998 in Nagano, but not again until today. They have now won all top IIHF tournaments since 2015, including three Women’s Worlds and this Olympics.
“It gives me the chills,” said Kendall Coyne. “It’s unbelievable. A lot of us are here because of the ‘98 team. We were inspired by their victory. So hopefully there’s a ton of girls that pick up hockey in the United States and all over the world. This was a tremendous win, and the future generations are really going to soar from it as well.”

Canada’s run of Olympic golds ends at four, but this was another classic between these great rivals who simply refuse to give an inch and refuse to give up.

“We didn’t come here for a silver medal, so I’m sure everyone can imagine how losing feels,” said Canadian forward Blayre Turnbull. “It’s not a great feeling at all.”

“Resilience is a great word,” Duggan continued. “The situation didn’t faze us at all. We’ve talked a lot; our mission has been clear. We stay in the moment, and we showed that today. We took it minute by minute, I knew we were going to come back and tie it up. I’m just so proud of the team, and I’m really excited to celebrate with the girls.”

“Obviously the past impacts people,” added Gigi Marvin, “but I think even more it’s not about the past but what we take and learn from it. Every single person really dug deep and found it in themselves to never lose hope and just trust that there was a greater purpose.”

“People kept saying we never beat Canada but we knew we could be them,” said Dani Cameranesi. “We knew that we had it. We knew we had a great group of girls. We’ve been dreaming of it for so long and it feels amazing.”

“I’m extremely proud of the girls,” said Canada’s coach Laura Schuler. “It was a hard-fought game, and although it’s not the result we wanted, I think we played a good game.”

In the end, Canada’s conservative play in the third period cost them as they tried to defend a 2-1 lead. The Americans struck for the tying goal by capitalizing on a bad Canadian line change which left Monique Lamoureux wide open on the left wing. She went in on goal and wired a shot over Shannon Szabados’s glove at 13:39 to tie the game and set the stage for extra time.

The play actually started at the other end of the ice when Canada’s Laura Stacey came down on a two-on-one. Her shot to the far corner went off the shaft of goalie Maddie Rooney’s stick, and the Americans made the transition from defence to offense in a blink.

The overtime was pressure-filled, and the Americans carried the play for much of it. Megan Keller had a clear break, only to be stopped by Szabados, and with 1:35 to play the Canadians had a power play. At the side of the net, Rebecca Johnston came close, but couldn’t convert.

In the shootout, Gigi Marvin scored on the first shot but Meghan Agosta came right back to tie it. Two shots later, Canada went ahead on a goal from Melodie Daoust, the tournament MVP, but on the fourth American shot Amanda Kessel scored.

After five shots, teams were tied 2-2, and the order was reversed. On the first extra shot, Jocelyne Lamoureux scored, and Agosta, shooting again, couldn’t tie it. The Americans won gold.

The game started with extreme caution and care as neither team wanted to give the other an early advantage. The first shot of the game didn’t happen until 3:41 (Canada), and the Americans didn’t get their first until 7:48.

Once the preliminaries were done with, though, the Americans spent much of the rest of the period on the power play as Canada was whistled for the only three infractions of the opening 20 minutes.

Canada did a masterful job of killing penalties, but given the firepower on the U.S. side, this couldn’t last forever. In the final minute, a Sidney Morin shot was tipped by Hilary Knight past Szabados, with 25.4 seconds remaining, breaking the ice and giving the U.S. a 1-0 lead.

That lead didn’t last long. Canada tied the game on the merits of great hustle and great hands. Blayre Turnbull did the hustling, chasing down her own shoot-in and firing a high shot to the net for the corner boards.

The hands came to the fore when Haley Irwin batted the puck out of the air from in tight, batting it in at 2:00. But no sooner had they tied the game than they were called for a fourth straight penalty.

After killing that off, they went back to the attack and took the lead. Morin lost the puck at centre ice and Agosta tore down the left wing. As players from both teams skated to the goal, Agosta calmly passed back to Marie-Philip Poulin, the trailer, and she snapped a shot short side that beat a screened Rooney.

Canada nearly made it 3-1 when it finally got a power play midway through the period, but Jennifer Wakefield couldn’t find the puck in her skates. The rest of the period was back and forth. The Americans had the better of puck possession, but Canada looked the more dangerous.

In the end, the U.S. persevered and the Canadians made a mistake and later couldn’t convert at the right time. Hats off to the gold medalists!

“It’s definitely part of our legacy,” said Hilary Knight. “The things that we’ve gone though as a team, both on and off the ice, the characters and group of women that we have in the room, it’s really incredible. It’s a little bittersweet right now because we won, but at the same time, this team will never really be together in the same capacity. Hopefully we remain lifelong friends, but this has just been an incredible journey.”

The journey is over for 2018, and a new one starts tomorrow for 2022 in Beijing.

Germans Shock Sweden to Advance to First Semifinal Appearance Since 1932

By Steven Ellis –

Patrick Reimer was the hero for Germany, giving the team that was ranked ninth-place in the round-robin a shocking 4-3 victory against the top-ranked Swedish team to advance to the semifinals.

Germany had never previously beaten Sweden at a major men’s competition, having only recorded two wins against the boys in yellow in exhibition contests in 2013 and 2016. The victory put them in the final four for the first time since 1932, a major accomplishment for a team that had to play their way into the 2018 tournament in a qualification event back in 2016.

Unexpectedly, Germany found themselves up by two goals early in the contest in a shocking start for the Tre Kronor. At 13:48, a power-play blast by former NHL defenceman Christian Ehrhoff made it 1-0 after the big blueliner took a pass from Patrick Hager, beating Viktor Fasth to make it 1-0.

29 seconds later, the Germans shockingly opened up their lead further. This time, Marcel Noebels was the beneficiary of a loose puck in front of the net. Noebels, a former Philadelphia Flyers prospect, would grab his first Olympic goal after pouncing on the disk before either Swedish defender could turn around and scoop it away, with Noebels knocking it past Fasth to make it 2-0 Germany.

Sweden was unable to change the score at the 40-minute mark, putting them in desperation territory. It was becoming to look like shades of 2002 when Sweden lost to Belarus in the quarterfinals, a team Sweden should have had no issue rolling over. They had already beaten Germany earlier in this tournament, but with a 1-0 victory coming off of the first shot of the game, there wasn’t a lot of confidence that the Swedes could reverse the deficit.

But they still found a way to score twice. At 6:25, top NHL Draft prospect Rasmus Dahlin, who had seen just two shifts prior to Sweden’s goal, took a shot from the point that landed in front of Danny Aus den Birken. Anton Lander was there to scoop up the puck and beat the German goaltender, giving Sweden their first of the game.

Then, at 9:35, Patrick Hersley one-timed a pass from Linus Omark on the man advantage to put the Swedes back within one, just a minute after Dominik Kahun scored Germany’s third goal of the contest.

Germany was doing everything they could to hold on, but at 11:37, the Swedes tied it up for the first time in the game. Mikael Wikstrand would do the deed, sending a perfect wrist shot over Aus den Birken’s glove to make it 3-3, making an exciting game even closer late.

The game would require overtime, the second game to do so in the quarterfinals. Reimer came up huge when it mattered most, scoring shortly after the puck dropped to give Germany the shocking 4-3 victory and a spot in the semifinals on Friday against Team Canada.

Canada Loses Ben Scrivens But Still Shutout Finland to Advance to Semifinals

By Steven Ellis –

Canada needed just one goal to secure their place in the Olympic semifinals, beating Finland by a score of 1-0 on Wednesday evening in South Korea.

While there weren’t a whole lot of big offensive opportunities in the first 40 minutes, Canada lost one of their most important players after a collision early in the second. Ben Scrivens would have to leave after Eric O’Dell pushed Veli-Matti Savinainen into his netminder, with Scrivens getting hit in the shoulder area. He would hang around for another play before getting taken out in favour of Kevin Poulin, who got a shutout in his lone start against South Korea to end the opening round of the tournament.

The goalie switch seemed to make Canada play a much stronger, aggressive game, especially when it came to their offence. After taking just four shots in the opening period, Canada controlled possession with an 18-9 advantage, yet neither team figured out how to put the puck past either goalie.

Canada finally found a way to break the deadlock a minute into the third period. O’Dell did a good job of winning the faceoff back to Maxime Noreau at the point, and almost immediately, the former Colorado Avalanche prospect blew a wicked slap shot over the blocker arm of Mikko Koskinen and in to make it 1-0 for the two-time defending Olympic champions. It was the only goal that Canada needed in the game, with Poulin putting on a perfect performance in relief to lead Canada to the victory and to help them advance to the semifinals.

With the win, Canada will play for a medal for the third straight Olympic tournament, having won the past two gold medals in Vancouver and Sochi. Finland will fail to win a medal for just the third time since 1988, winning two silvers and four bronze medals in that time span.

Finns edge OAR for bronze

By Lucas Aykroyd

This represented a major bounce back after a disappointing fifth-place finish four years ago in Sochi. It was a joyful moment for coach Pasi Mustonen’s team, which came to Korea expecting to medal and came through in the end.

“Winning a medal was our goal coming into the Olympics, and we know on a good day we have a chance even against the U.S. or Canada,” said Finnish captain Jenni Hiirikoski. “But the U.S. was really good [to beat Finland] in the semi-final, so this was what we wanted to win today.”

The Finns also came third in the inaugural Nagano 1998 tournament and in Vancouver 2010.

Susanna Tapani set the pace with a goal and an assist. Her 2-0 marker, just 10 seconds into the second period, set a new Olympic record for the fastest goal from the start of a period. The old record of 19 seconds belonged to Slovakia’s Janka Culikova, who scored in the third period of a 5-2 loss to Switzerland on 17 February, 2010.

Petra Nieminen and Linda Valimaki also scored for Finland. Top Finnish netminder Noora Raty, who played every game, outduelled her counterpart Nadezhda Morozova. Shots were even at 22 apiece.

“This is awesome!” said Raty. “It’s one of the best days of my life. We’ve been waiting for this for four years, ever since Sochi. We beat Sweden in overtime in Vancouver, and that was a great feeling to beat your biggest rival. But we were underdogs in that game; we were favourites today, I think, so there was more pressure.”

“We played together, and we played as a team,” said Valimaki. “That’s the main reason we won. It’s an amazing feeling, and now we can celebrate the medal.”

Lyudmila Belyakova potted a goal and an assist for the OAR team and captain Olga Sosina had a single.

“In a way, the tournament was still successful for us, but if I had a medal around my neck I’d be a lot happier now,” said Sosina.

Indeed, it wasn’t all bad news for the red-and-white squad, which played better than in the 5-1 group stage loss to Finland. Fourth place marks the best Olympic finish ever for a Russian women’s team. Russia came fifth in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Finnish forward Riikka Valila is the last remaining active player from the 1998 Olympics, which she led in scoring. At 44, she continues to excel. Her top line with Tapani and Michelle Karvinen was dangerous throughout the game.

“After Sochi, everything was chaos, but then we started to build our team, both the players and the organization,” said Valila. “Our goal was to win a medal for the last four years. “

This was a tightly contested affair after both teams lost their semi-finals 5-0, Finland to the Americans and the OAR women to the Canadians.

Facing the tournament’s most-penalized team, the Finns drew first blood on their first power play. Minnamari Tuominen stepped in from the centre point to loft a backhand and Nieminen deftly tipped it in mid-air past the Russian netminder for her third goal of the Games at 2:23.

It was the second time Finland’s youngest player has opened the scoring in these playoffs. The 18-year-old Nieminen also did it in the 7-2 quarter-final win over Sweden.

“We had a lot of good scorers in the tournament, and we have a new generation coming, like Nieminen and the younger girls,” said Hiirikoski. “It’s nice to see them step up as well.”

The Russians had their chances as the period went on. Raty came out to block Belyakova on an OAR outnumbered rush. Later, Alevtina Shtaryova wristed one that hit Raty’s glove and then the post. In the last minute of the first, Ronja Savolainen capitalized on a Russian pratfall to go one-on-one with Morozova, but the puck drifted off her stick.

To start the middle frame, Finland got a two-goal lead thanks to its top line. Off the opening faceoff, Karvinen and Tapani executed a lovely give-and-go, and Tapani scored high to the stick side.

The Russians didn’t capitulate. At 2:40, Sosina one-timed Belyakova’s cross-ice pass over Raty’s glove to cut the deficit to 2-1. The Finns overcompensated with physicality and the OAR team hemmed them in with an extended power play, including a 5-on-3 for 0:39, but couldn’t tie it up.

Finland grabbed a 3-1 lead at 12:18. Venla Hovi went cross-ice to a streaking Valimaki and she cut to the net made a great backhand deke to beat Morozova.

With just over two minutes left in the second, Belyakova’s hip slammed into Raty’s head as she split the Finnish defence on a wild rush. The Finnish netminder was all right, but Belyakova headed off for goalie interference.

At 6:03 of the third, Belyakova executed the play she wanted when she got in for another solo rush and tucked a backhand home to make it 3-2 on a Russian power play.

“They played well, especially in the third,” said Hiirikoski. “They did everything to score but we just needed to move the puck and control the puck in their zone.”

With five minutes left in regulation, Finland’s Isa Rahunen took a bodychecking penalty on Anna Shokhina in the corner. It could have proved costly, but since Shokhina promptly bopped Hiirikoski with a high-stick, the Russian advantage was nullified.

Assiduous Finnish checking kept the OAR team from pulling Morozova until an icing call on Finland with nine seconds left. Off the faceoff, the Finns tied the puck up along the boards, and celebrated with gloves and sticks cast away when the horn sounded. Karvinen leapt into the taller Mira Jalosuo’s arms for a hug while the goalies exchanged chest bumps.

Shokhina was assessed a major and game misconduct for kicking at the end.

All game long, Russian supporters among the Kwandong Hockey Centre crowd of 3,217 fervently chanted their country’s name. However, while the OAR men’s team was busy demolishing Norway 6-1 in a quarter-final, the women weren’t able to defeat their own Nordic opponents. Russian women’s hockey still needs the right kind of support to hit the next level.

“We have a very good team, a very young team with a lot of potential,” said Sosina.

It was the first Olympic bronze battle between these two sides. At the Women’s Worlds, Russia beat Finland for third in the 2001, 2013, and 2016 bronze medal games. Finland returned the favor in 2011 and 2015.

Finland owns 12 Women’s World Championship bronze medals, more than any other nation. Despite losing 3-1 to the U.S. and 4-1 to Canada in the group stage prior to a 5-0 quarter-final loss to the Canadians, the Finns remain the team most capable of challenging North America’s hegemony. They will host the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship and hope to take that next step in front of their loyal fans.

“We want to be the best,” said Karvinen. “We’ve been trying to catch up with the U.S. and Canada. Some games we do, but we couldn’t in the semi-finals. But the future will change. We’re hungry and we have the support.”

« Older posts Newer posts »