Category: Women (page 1 of 8)

Lisa Haley named head coach of Hungarian women’s hockey team

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Lisa Haley has been named the head coach of Hungary’s women’s hockey team.

The Westville native takes over the reins of a team that will compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation world women’s hockey championship next year in Halifax and Truro.

“We were looking for a coach and reached Lisa Haley through the Canadian federation,” said Márton Vas, the general director of the Hungarian Hockey Association in a news release. “Her biography speaks for itself. We want to give the girls the best possible preparation before the world championship and the Olympic qualifiers. I am sure that she will be able to develop the players and prepare the team to the maximum.”

The 47-year-old Haley, who was an assistant coach of Canada’s gold-medal winning women’s team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and silver medals at the 2008 and 2013 IIHF world championships, is excited about the challenge.

“I know the recent successes of Hungarian women’s hockey and the opportunity to add to it inspires me,” said Haley in the news release. “The results so far provide a strong foundation that can ensure long-term success, and even greater things can be built on that.

“Now that the national team has risen to the elite, we want to stay there too. Being Canadian, plus I’m from Nova Scotia, I will be especially proud to represent Hungary at the world championships in Halifax and Truro in the spring of 2021. We will be ready.”

Haley is in Hungary, leading the team’s training camp in Tüskesent.

Haley has also enjoyed international success with Canada, winning gold at the 2010 IIHF world women’s under-18 championship and also captured gold at the 2007 Four Nations Cup with the senior women’s team.

In 2011 and 2014, she served as a mentor coach at the IIHF women’s high-performance camp for the top under-18 players in the world.

Haley (nee Jordan) is coming off a long stint as the head coach of the Ryerson University women’s team. Haley took over the Ryerson job in 2011 after 14 seasons as head coach of the Saint Mary’s Huskies.

Haley guided Saint Mary’s to eight appearances in the Atlantic University Sport finals, winning four league titles.

She is a two-time AUS coach of the year and was the Canadian Interuniversity Sport coach of the year in 2003.

The Estonia Women’s Hockey Team Gathers Again After a 12-Year Break

By EESTI Hoki

On August 1st and 2nd, after a 12-year break, the Estonian Women’s National Team will gather again at  Škoda Ice Arena to start preparations for the IIHF 2021 Women’s Ice Hockey World Championship Division III tournament. Ukraine, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Hong Kong, Bosnia & Herzegovina also will play in the same group.

30 players (3 goalies, 9 defensemen and 18 forwards) have been invited to the camp, all of whom are active players on Estonian ice hockey clubs.

Inguna Lukašēvica, a 45-year-old Latvian, who has a long-term experience as a player on the Latvian national team and a professional coaching career in Latvia and Austria, as well as previous experience with the Austrian U18 team. Lukašēvica Will guide the Estonia Women’s National Team  Division III tournament in March of 2021.

“For the last three seasons, the women have played in the Estonian Hockey Championship and a  total of five teams participated in the Women’s Champions League last season. We have been planning the return of the Estonian women’s hockey team for almost two years. We are pleased to see that although the team has had a long break, there is still a will and desire in our women to represent our country and compete for a good result, and we consider it very important to provide women with a change to be on the team so that both young girls can realize their potential on the ice, I believe that the first year of the team will be challenging, but the first goal is definitely to win Division III  and go to level of Division II in the coming years.

The Estonian women’s hockey team gathered for the first time in 2005, when a meeting was held against the Icelandic team. The game was won with a score of 8: 2.

In 2007 and 2008, the national team has previously participated in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in Division IV. 4th place was achieved in both years.

Although the composition of the women’s team will be announced just before the World Championship tournament, the management of the team is known today.

HC Inguna Lukashevica (LAT) Head coach
AC Ahto Kärnä (FIN) Abitreener
GM Katrin Talvak Manager
EQM Toomas Rebane Technician

Women’s hockey in Lithuania

By Vitaly NesterovNational Teams of Ice Hockey

In December of 2019, the Lithuanian women’s team made its debut at the Women’s World Championships Division III in Sofia Bulgaria. For the first time at international competitions. Next season, the team will face even greater challenges. First of all, the girls will make their debut in the Olympic qualification and, finally, Women’s World Championships Division III on home ice. “We can popularize women’s hockey and take the first steps at the international level,” said Eglė Zemlickienė, General Manger of the women’s hockey team of Lithuania.

World Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania

The IIHF entrusted Lithuania to host the Women’s World Championship of Division III.

“ Already last year, when we wanted to host the women’s world championship, However, according to IIHF rules, first timers cannot host the championships in their own country. Therefore, we immediately began to think about the rights to host the championship in 2021, ”said Zemlickienė,,“ Lithuania has extensive experience in organizing world championships. We have a good reputation among other countries, because in our country championships have already been held among the men and different age groups.  Lithuania has received excellent reviews both from the IIHF and from other countries. I think that it would be important that we now have the right to host the women’s world championship . ”

Usually in one division of the championship there are six teams, but this time there will be more. Women’s teams of Estonia, Bosnia, Ukraine, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria and Hong Kong will take part in the tournament (division III) with Lithuanians

“ From an organizational point of view, the biggest problem is how to make a schedule for the 8th team, and to arrange all the members of the national teams in hotels. However, we are optimistic about the situation and hope that perhaps the new ice arena in Kaunas will already be operational. It is planned to open before the new year. If not, we will hold the championship in two arenas. However, Kaunas remains a priority, it is a strategically convenient place. Of course, if force will play in two arenas, although we still hope that the championship will be held in Kaunas, ”added Egle.

Lithuanian national team at the World Championships in Bulgaria

Olympic Qualification

Before the home World Championships next year, the women’s team will still have to go to Iceland. In December of this year, in Reykjavik, for the first time in the history of Lithuania, their women’s team will compete in the pre-qualification for the Olympic Games. The Lithuanian national team will compete in the first qualifying round against four teams – Iceland, Bulgaria and Hong Kong.

“I would not like to speak boldly about our goals and opportunities. After all, this will be our debut in the Olympic qualifiers. We are still not very familiar with our rivals. It is difficult to say how we will do in this competition, but I am very glad that next season we will have two tournaments – the Olympic Games and the World Championships. This is a great opportunity to draw attention to women’s hockey. We must promote women’s hockey and take the first steps at the global level. Both I and all the girls in the team are looking forward to the upcoming season. True, recently, when the coronavirus is still widespread in the world, it is difficult to plan something specifically. Therefore, I do not know if we can even fly to Iceland. We are preparing as if everything will be fine. We plan to fly to Iceland and plan to hold the World Championships in Lithuania. Let’s see how everything goes“, – said Zemyckene.

“ The official preparations for the Olympic selection are likely to begin in November. Usually it starts 2-3 weeks before departure. But, no doubt, before the training camp in the national team, girls are required to train in thee clubs, of course. Also this year, our hockey players will take part in the Baltic League and the Latvian Championship. Various friendly tournaments will also be held , ”concluded Egle.

Coach from Germany

Bernd Haake, head coach of the Lithuanian women’s hockey team, will arrive in Lithuania 2-3 weeks before flying to Iceland

“ We are pleased with the work of the coach with the women’s team last year. I think the debut was a success. Haake gladly agreed to help us in two tournaments in the new season, everything has already been agreed with him. He will fly to Lithuania at the end of October, when the national team will begin intensive preparations for future games. When it came to choosing a coach, it was Haake who was the best option at the present time, because he worked with our team, he knows many players since last year, he knows their strengths and weaknesses , ”says the head of the team.

Recall that in the debut tournament of the third division of the World Championships in Bulgaria last year, Lithuanian hockey players took fifth place. The Lithuanian national team had two victories – it defeated the Hong Kong team 4: 1 and unexpectedly beat the national team of Belgium, which was considered the favorite of the tournament, with a score of 4: 3.

There were also three defeats – 1: 2 from the national team of Bulgaria, 2: 4 from the national team of Romania and 2-4 from the national team of South Africa. South Africa won the tournament.

“ I appreciate the girls debut at the World Championships. They played well. Perhaps the girls dreamed of medals, but the goal for the tournament was different – we hoped to win at least one or two matches, we wanted to show what we are capable of. The result met expectations. Debut is a debut, we warm up and understand what else we can do to become stronger. Now there are more serious challenges ahead ”

When asked if we can expect better results in the upcoming season, the team manager does not hesitate to reflect: “ As for the World Championships – since there will be eight teams in it, the tournament will be divided into two groups of four, and then there will be a play- off So much can determine which group we get into. Maybe this will be a favorable group for us, or maybe not. Everything can lead to medals, but it can be versatile. It’s hard to predict anything. We will also see how our girls have become stronger this year. Players roster has not yet been determined and there may be changes in the composition. And some of the rivals are also unknown , ”said Egle.

Bernd Haake is a 74-year-old specialist who has been working in Lithuania since 2012. Coaches both women’s and men’s and youth national teams of Lithuania. Previously coached HC “Energy” from Elektrenai

Women’s hockey is developing in Lithuania

Last year, before traveling to Bulgaria, Zemlickienė, was glad that the popularity of women’s hockey in the country was growing. According to a specialist who has been working in women’s hockey for more than five years, the popularity has increased even more since his debut at the world championships.

“ After the appearance at the World Championships Division III last year, popularity and attention to us has increased, interest is really felt. It is very nice. In fact, more and more girls are choosing to play hockey in schools. Girls from 4-5 years old already lead to classes in this sport. Of course, it is difficult to say how many of them will remain in hockey, but it is funny that there are more and more of them. The attitude of coaches is also changing. We also already have the first team of girls under 10 in Vilnius. I am glad that gradually the popularity is growing , ”said the head of the women’s program.

In the end, Zemlickienė, added, it will be necessary to wait a few years before popularity increases significantly. However, according to her, the results, although small, can be seen right away: “ Everything is really going in a positive direction and it’s nice, ” she finished.

Kim St-Pierre breaks ground for female goalies in Hockey Hall of Fame

Kim St-Pierre celebrates after winning gold at the 2006 Olympics

By Donna Spencer · The Canadian Press

Netminder posted a 1.17 goals-against average and save percentage of .939 over her 13-year career.

A young Kim St-Pierre saw magic in that plain, brown goaltending equipment.

But she lost the first game she put it on.

Parents Louise and Andre encouraged her to continue, even though there were no girls’ teams in Chateauguay, Que., in the 1980s.

The first female goaltender — and eighth woman — to earn induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame played with and against boys her first decade in the sport.

“Being the only girl, it was never easy,” St-Pierre said. “I had to really fight every day not to become the best, but to play amongst all the boys.

“It made me the person I am today, to never give up and always be ready every time I had a chance to step on the ice.”

Her first foray into women’s hockey with the McGill University Martlets coincided with the debut of women’s hockey at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

“My transition to the women’s game, I was about to quit hockey, but thank god for McGill University giving me a chance to play for another five years and transition to the women’s game,” St-Pierre said. “It made me have a chance to be a part of Team Canada down the road.

“It was a dream for me to be on the that team one day.”

St-Pierre earned three Olympic gold medals and five world championships with the Canadian women’s hockey team.

The 41-year-old is Canada’s all-time leader in games (83), wins (64) and shutouts (29).

St-Pierre posted a career 1.17 goals-against average and save percentage of .939 over her 13-year career with the national team.

She enters the Hall alongside NHL players Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson and builder Ken Holland in the class of 2020 announced Wednesday.

“Hopefully this will let people know about the accolades Kim has,” Canadian teammate and goaltender Sami Jo Small said.

“She’s often overlooked because she’s quiet, because she’s not really in the public eye. She just had this quiet resolve to her.

“She just went out her business winning lots of games and playing for Team Canada for a long time, which as a goaltender is not an easy feat.”

St-Pierre was Canada’s starter in world championship finals from 2001 to 2008. She was named the tournament’s top goalie in both 2001 and 2004.

Her 25-save performance in the 2002 Olympic women’s hockey final was electric.

Canada claimed gold in an emotional 3-2 win over the United States in Salt Lake City, after losing the final to the Americans in 1998.

St-Pierre was named the Canadian Women’s Hockey League top goaltender three times in her career. She twice hoisted the Clarkson Cup championship trophy with the Montreal Stars.

She grew up idolizing Montreal Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy, as well as Manon Rheaume who appeared in a pair of NHL pre-season games with the Tampa Bay Lightning when St-Pierre was a teenager.

Angela James and Cammi Granato were the first women the Hall inducted in 2010, followed by Geraldine Heaney (2013), Angela Ruggiero (2015), Danielle Goyette (2017), Jayna Hefford (2018), Hayley Wickenheiser (2019) and now St-Pierre.

“When I first found out women would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with Cammi Granato and Angela James, it made it so special for me to be a women’s hockey player and now to join and be the eighth women in the Hockey Hall of Fame makes it very, very special,” St-Pierre said.

“My message for all the young goalies is to never give up and to always keep it fun.”

Trailblazing Grkovic

Since making her debut at the at the U18 Women’s Championships in 2014, Jelena Grkovic has played an integral part in Hungary´s spectacular rise to top of the women’s game

By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

Growing up as the lone female player in an entire country is a daunting challenge in a team sport. But Jelena Grkovic has proved her critics wrong on her way to the pinnacle of the women’s game.

If things would have gone as planned, Hungary’s women’s national team would just have completed their baptism of fire at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Canada this month. The Central European debutants were scheduled to take on the Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan and Germany in Group B contested in Truro, Novia Scotia.

The ongoing spread of COVID-19 pushed ahead Hungary’s entry to the big stage until next year. As the news of the postponement broke through on 7 March, Grkovic temporarily downed tools in her recovery work from a knee injury sustained while skating for her club team, KMH Budapest.

“I am sad about not going to Canada, but I think everything happens for a reason. We had a lot of injuries this year, but now instead we have to fully prepare mentally, make even further progress as a team and then be completely ready when the moment arrives,” said Grkovic.

Hungarian women’s hockey is currently on a roll. This season, Grkovic’s club KMH Budapest successfully defended their title in Central European cross-border league EWHL while also lifting the EWHL Supercup and winning the domestic championship.

The success came in the wake of last April’s top place finish at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A on home ice in Budapest. Winning gold in front of 1,944 jubilant supporters, Pat Cortina’s team deservedly booked a place to compete against the top-ten nations of the world.

“It’s an amazing accomplishment and something you only dream of. I’m born in a country where women’s hockey didn’t even exist when I started so now to be playing in the top division feels unreal,” said Grkovic, who made her debut for Hungary’s senior national team as an 18-year-old at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships Division I Group B in Asiago, Italy.

300 kilometers further south from her current home in Budapest, Grkovic spent her formative years in Novi Sad in neighbouring Serbia. Monica Seles had started her journey towards becoming a future world number one in tennis in the same city. For Grkovic, who also dabbled briefly with tennis, it was hockey that won her over at the age of six.

“We were five girls who started at the same time, but shortly after they had all stopped. Being the only girl continuing to play for years, one of the coaches once told my mum that I was only taking a pair of skates from another boy,” said Grkovic, who had no plans to throw in the towel.

“Hockey fits my personality 100 per cent. It’s a challenging, fast and aggressive sport and a great way to handle my huge energy. But I didn’t have a future in Serbia being the only female hockey player. So we as a family decided that I should move and Hungary was a good opportunity for me,” she said.

Hungary’s capital Budapest had back then become a popular destination for Serbian hockey youngsters on the boys’ side. Aged 14, Grkovic arrived north of the border as the first female hockey player enrolling in the Serbian school in Budapest. Out on the ice, the conditions in her new surroundings were in stark contrast to what had been on offer in Serbia.

“The investments in Hungary are far bigger in ice hockey, or actually in any other sport if I am honest,” she said. “At first I continued to play on boys’ teams until the age of 16. After that only with girls.”

Her younger brother Dusan soon followed suit to Budapest. But when he was able to skate for Serbia’s national team program, Jelena made her debut for the Hungarian U18 national team in 2014.

She has since been ever-present in the Hungarian national team set-up. Now in her ninth year in Hungary, Grkovic combines university studies with hockey and has become the live wire inside the national team locker room.

“For me, it was never hard to go away from home and I have always been curious about the world. When moving to a new country you need to accept the culture and learn the language. I now have lived in Hungary for years and thanks to my social skills I am totally fluent in Hungarian. I am the one who speaks up for the team, constantly makes jokes and never shuts up,” she said.

With Grkovic reaping rewards in Hungarian hockey, across its southern border, the women’s program in Serbia is starting to make progress. Participating numbers show a growing trend with currently 75 female hockey players around the country and Serbia participates in international initiatives such as the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.

“I sometimes go to see my family, but my hockey schedule keeps me pretty busy. Even though I am not effectively there and physically doing something, I hope I do give them motivation. I would like to help if I can and there are more girls playing hockey now in Serbia. I was also happy to see that there recently was a girls’ day in the rink where I made my first steps,” said Grkovic.

Currently working hard to recover to full fitness for next season, Grkovic believes Hungary only needs a bit of fine-tuning to be able to spring a surprise one year on when the team will have its top-level debut at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship that could – formal approval by the IIHF Congress pending – take place in Halifax and Truro, the cities that have been scheduled for this year.

“Ahead of this season half of our players from KMH Budapest joined a new women’s team MAC Budapest so we need to work pretty hard on our team building. As a national team, we are not that big physically, but we are good, fast skaters and playing fair while being aggressive. But I’m a very optimistic kind of person and I think it will be a great challenge and of course. I think we could stay up,” she said.

Hockey’s Prünster in Goal for Colby and Austria

Nina Prünster

By Kristin Yorke – Colby College

Ice hockey isn’t the most popular sport for girls in Nina Prünster’s native Austria, but that didn’t stop her. She just played with the boys. Goalie Prünster ’22 would go on to play for the all-girls Under 18 Austrian National team—a team she made at age 14.

When she first suited up for the national team, Prünster was speechless. “It is obviously a great honor and such a privilege. The first time I played it was an amazing feeling. Putting on that jersey, I couldn’t believe it.” Starting in 2013, Prünster spent four years on the Austrian U18 team before coming to Mayflower Hill.

This December, between playing games for Colby, economics major-Prünster got another shot at representing her country. She successfully made the adult Austrian National Team, where, she says, “I have the privilege to represent Austria at the Women’s World Championships in France in April.”

Nina Prünster before the NESCAC women’s hockey quarterfinal match against Bowdoin Feb. 29, 2020

So how did someone who has played in four total U18 World Championship tournaments find her way to Mayflower Hill? After playing at a camp in Sweden, college coaches recommended Prünster do a year of prep school. She played during her post-grad year at Kent School in Connecticut. Shortly after she got to Kent, her coach connected her with Colby women’s ice hockey coach Holley Tyng, and Prünster came for a visit. It wasn’t a hard decision after that. “I met the whole team, toured the campus, and fell in love with it”

Clearly, she’s found success here in Maine. With a record of 9-3-4, Colby women’s hockey is second in the NESCAC. This past weekend Prünster shutout Bowdoin to help the Mules notch a quarter-final victory. The Colby women advance to the semi-finals and will head to Middlebury this weekend to play Amherst in the second round of the NESCAC tournament. Should they advance, they’ll have the chance to take on the winner of fourth-ranked Hamilton and top seed Middlebury. Despite her impressive run with the world’s best, Prünster has confidence in her Colby teammates. “It’s really amazing,” she said, “being on this team.”

Americans win Rivalry Series

Hilary Knight (right, with Alex Carpenter and Dani Cameranesi), who topped the points race en route to gold at the 2019 Women’s Worlds, led the way again as the U.S. women won four out of five Rivalry Series against Canada

By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com

February looms large on the international women’s hockey calendar, and the U.S. showed it’s still the big-time favourite heading into the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Canada (31 March to April 10 in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia).

The Americans finished up with four wins in the five-game 2019-20 Rivalry Series against Canada. Relying on speed and puck possession, coach Bob Corkum’s team dictated the play and outscored their cross-border foes 15-9. The U.S. are the defending Olympic champions and have won five straight Women’s Worlds.

Meanwhile, in the Euro Hockey Tour playoffs, Finland triumphed with three straight victories, blanking host Sweden 4-0 in the final. The Finns made history with a silver medal on home ice at the 2019 Women’s Worlds in Espoo.

U.S. superstar Hilary Knight led that tournament with 11 points (7+4=11), and the two-time Women’s Worlds MVP (2015, 2016) paced the Rivalry Series with three goals and an assist. Alex Carpenter (2+2=4), who was profiled by the New York Times prior to Saturday’s 4-3 series-closing win in Anaheim, and Kelly Pannek (0+4=4) also had four points.

Of Knight’s continuing prowess, Corkum said: “Not surprised at all. She’s been doing it for a long, long time. She’s one of the many, many leaders we have in that dressing room, and she certainly answered the bell.”

Victoria Bach was the top-scoring Canadian (2+1=3), and 2018 Olympic MVP Melodie Daoust and Halifax native Jill Saulnier also totalled three points apiece (1+2=3). Bach, who was the 2019 CWHL rookie of the year with the Markham Thunder, won U18 gold in 2014. However, the slick 23-year-old forward, a former Boston University star, has yet to make her official IIHF debut.

In a worrying reminder of Espoo, Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin sat out the concluding 4-3 overtime loss at the Honda Center with an undisclosed injury. The lone woman to score in three Olympic finals, Poulin, 28, only hit the ice for a grand total of 4:44 at the last Women’s Worlds, where Canada settled for its first bronze medal ever.

Both teams struggled to convert with the power play during the Rivalry Series. Special teams will be particularly crucial for new Canadian coach Troy Ryan’s team as it quests for its first Women’s World gold medal since 2012.

Let’s take a look at the highlights.

Rivalry Series

The Rivalry Series, now in its second year, kicked off with a pair of December games. The U.S won Game One (14 December) 4-1. Amanda Kessel scored the winner and added an assist, and goalie Alex Cavallini (nee Rigsby) shone with 31 saves in Hartford.

In Game Two (17 December) in Moncton, Carpenter’s first-period goal lifted the Americans to a 2-1 win. Goalie Aerin Frankel (Northeastern University) won her national team debut with 27 saves. U.S. newcomer Abby Roque (Wisconsin) scored a goal in each December game.

Game Three (3 February) in Victoria attracted a capacity crowd of 7,006 to the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, reminiscent of the vibe during the 2019 World Juniors. Bach sent the Canadian fans home happy when she tallied the 3-2 overtime winner on a beautiful set-up by Nova Scotia native Blayre Turnbull.

“It was so exciting,” said Canadian veteran Brianne Jenner, who opened the scoring on a shorthanded breakaway. “Every goal tonight, the bench just went wild. Especially when it’s one of our younger players, to see them get a goal, we’re pretty excited.”

In Victoria, Knight got her 200th career national team point on a second-period power play goal. She would play an even bigger role in Game Four (5 February) in Vancouver.

This was the first time the Americans had played there since the 2010 Olympic final, and Knight, 30, hadn’t forgotten that bitter 2-0 loss. First, she fed Hayley Scamurra for the winner, and then she shushed the partisan crowd after adding a late empty-netter to clinch the Rivalry Series with a 3-1 victory. It all happened in front of Knight’s childhood idol, Cammi Granato, who had welcomed the U.S. team for dinner at her North Vancouver house the night before.

Asked afterwards about what she recalled about the back-and-forth with Canadian fans following the Olympic gold medal game, Knight didn’t hold back: “We were told to go back to our country and die. So I took it pretty personally. It’s salt from 10 years ago. We could play these guys 100 days out of the year and it would still be the same. And I think that’s what the fans feel – they feel that fabric of the competitive rivalry.”

The blinding speed of the U.S. trio of captain Kendall Coyne Schofield, Brianna Decker, and Dani Cameranesi gave the Canadians fits as the series wore on.

Game Five in Anaheim (8 February) was far from a formality. With an attendance of 13,320, it was the largest U.S. crowd ever to witness a national women’s team game. The previous record of 10,158 was set on 6 January 2002 when the U.S. beat Canada 7-3 at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.

Megan Bozek potted the 4-3 power-play winner just 42 seconds into overtime. Canadian starter Genevieve Lacasse made a stellar glove save on Bozek’s initial howitzer and then flailed Dominik Hasek-style to sweep the puck out of the crease. But Lacasse couldn’t recover in time to stop the hard-shooting American blueliner’s follow-up.

Monique Lamoureux-Morando tipped in the 3-3 equalizer for her first Rivalry Series goal with 11 minutes left. She is vying to solidify her return with the Stars and Stripes, along with her sister Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson. The 30-year-old twins took time off to have children after leading the U.S. in the 3-2 shootout win over Canada in the 2018 Olympics final.

The U.S. gained momentum as this series went on, and if the shots on goal totals in the last two games (26-12 and 30-20) are any indication, Canada’s netminding needs to be elite if the Americans are to be dethroned in Halifax.

Euro Hockey Tour Playoffs

Ranked third in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking as the best European team, Finland lived up to its advance billing in this six-nation tournament. Coach Pasi Mustonen’s team had a perfect 3-0 record and a 15-3 goal difference in the final event of the current Euro Hockey Tour, held in Tranas, Sweden.

The Finns never trailed, beating Germany 3-1, Switzerland 8-2, and Sweden 4-0 in the final. Forward Petra Nieminen led the tournament in scoring (3+5=8). The 20-year-old is enjoying a breakout season with the SDHL’s Lulea HF (24+30=54 in 34 games for third in league scoring). Established stars Susanna Tapani (1+7=8) and Michelle Karvinen (4+3=7) placed second and third respectively in the points race.

All things considered, coming second was a worthy feat for Sweden. 2019 was tumultuous for the Damkronorna.

The Swedes were shockingly relegated for the first time ever at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship after a 3-2 loss to Japan left them in ninth place. The blue-and-yellow women’s players also staged a protest in search of better treatment from the Swedish federation. That resulted in the cancellation of the annual 4 Nations Cup, originally slated for Lulea in November.

It wasn’t a totally consistent performance for the hosts. The Russians outshot coach Ylva Martinsen’s troops 29-19 in their opener, but goalie Sara Grahn’s strong performance helped the hosts to a 3-1 win. However, the Czech Republic’s Natalia Mlynkova scored twice, including the shootout winner, to lift her nation to a 2-1 victory over Sweden. Czech goalie Klara Peslarova sparkled in this tournament, surrendering just two goals on 53 shots in her two starts for a 0.96 GAA and 96.2 save percentage.

That said, the Swedes are favoured to secure promotion back to the top division in April. They will face Austria, the Netherlands, Norway Slovakia, and host France in Angers in April’s Division I Group A tournament.

The resurgent Russians topped Switzerland 3-1 in the third-place game, sparked by a pair of assists from team scoring leader Anna Shokhina (1+4=5). The Swiss are still looking for answers after the post-PyeongChang retirements of key players like goalie Florence Schelling and defender Christine Meier.

Long-time Czech captain Alena Mills stepped up with the winning goal and added an assist as her team edged Germany 2-1 for fifth place. There was a significant historical highlight in Transa for the German women, however.

Andrea Lanzl became the all-time leader in international appearances among German national team players (both male and female) when she suited up against Finland. It was her 322nd international game, surpassing Udo Kiessling (321), who was also the first German NHLer in 1982-83 with the Minnesota North Stars. Lanzl, a 32-year-old forward, has played in eight top-level Women’s Worlds, starting in 2005, and two Olympics (2006, 2014).

IIHF Council Member Franz Reindl, the President of the German Ice Hockey Association, extended his congratulations: “Andrea Lanzl has achieved a milestone in ice hockey, but also in German sport, thanks to her attitude, great successes, and sporting and human qualities that are revealed through the record number of 322 international matches.”

Ukraine to Debut in Women’s World Championship

For the first time ever, the Ukrainian Women’s National Team will compete in an IIHF Women’s World Championship in February 2020

By Nathaniel Oliver – Hockey Writers

The Ukrainian Women’s National Hockey Team will be playing in an actual IIHF World Championship for the first time ever. Nearly a year ago, the Ukrainians competed in the 2019 Division II B qualification tournament. Going up against South Africa, Belgium, Hong Kong and Bulgaria, the Ukrainians allowed a mere five goals through four games and went undefeated.

This was a victory that we had to make,” said Ukrainian defender Maryna Kobchuk. “We cried, we rejoiced, and we congratulated each other.”

Completing that successful qualification run, the team will now head to Akureyri, Iceland at the end of February. From Feb. 23 through 29, they will partake in the
2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship Division II B.
This is something that Kobchuk – who will turn 21 years old on Jan. 15 – has been working to achieve since the age of 15 when she first began organized hockey.

“It will be difficult – but our team is ready,” Kobchuk said. “Listening to our coaches’ assignments is critical. This group of teams that we will be going up against includes Turkey, Iceland, Croatia, Australia and New Zealand.”

Building Skill and Chemistry With HK Ukrainochka

Kobchuk, along with many of her national teammates, plays for HK Ukrainochka in her homeland. The Ukrainian Women’s Hockey League is quite small and consists of just three teams – Ukrainochka, Pantery Kharkov, and Avtomobilist Kiev. The league itself came to fruition in 2016, and has been the primary training bed for women’s hockey in this country.

“This past season our team HK Ukrainochka became champions of Ukraine,” Kobchuk smiled. “All of us were very happy to see how far we have come along as a team and as a league.”

Going 6-12-18 in scoring through 12 games this past 2018-19 season, Kobchuk was the second highest scoring defender in the league. She would also be named the league’s Best Defender. Across 36 career games for Ukrainochka, Kobchuk has scored 13 goals, 26 assists and 39 points.

Possessing a left-handed shot, she also has ideal size for a rearguard and skates well in and out of the zone. Kobchuk stands 5-foot-8 and is over 150 pounds. Her solid build is an advantage she is quite comfortable using, and she prefers playing an aggressive, physical game.

Marina Kobchuk earned Best Defender honors for the 2018-19 Ukraine Women’s Hockey League season

Looking Ahead to Iceland

The Ukrainians will bring more firepower to Akureyri than what people may realize. They possess a good amount of depth as well.

The oldest players on the country’s national team are 47-year-old twin sisters Inna Kozub and Elena Vansovich. The 5-foot-4 winger Kozub totaled two points (1G, 1A) in Ukraine’s 5-2 victory over Hong Kong on Jan. 17, 2019. Both women’s experience and motherly presence for this otherwise young squad adds a great deal of reassurance.

32-year-old Olena Tkachuk is one of the team’s top scorers. She went 3-3-6 through the four qualification games. Tkachuk is also a former member of the HK Pantera Minsk of Europe’s prestigious Elite Women’s Hockey League (EWHL). One of her teammates in Minsk was current Metropolitan Riveters forward Kelly Nash.

The Ukrainians’ main sniper is 18-year-old Darya Tsymirenko. She was the Ukrainian Women’s League’s top scorer in 2018-19 with a whopping 39 goals, 17 assists and 56 points in a mere 12 games.

“The women’s team – and this is a fact – has seen each player grow in her own way,” said Kobchuk. “At this time, we have added new, young players – just 16 or 17 years old – who did not play with us last year. Each of these girls has trained with men’s teams.”

The team’s top goaltender is 5-foot-9, 150-pound Viktoria Tkachenko. Through the four qualification games, Tkachenko came out of Cape Town, South Africa possessing the best goals against (1.29) and save percentage (.917). Not surprisingly, she was also named Best Goaltender for the tournament as well.

How Will the Ukrainians Fare?

How the Ukrainians will perform in Iceland remains to be seen. While they are a talented bunch, they are going up against well-established countries, namely the Icelanders and the Australians.

Kobchuk and her teammates know that they are in for a challenge.

Ladakh hosts World’s highest altitude women’s ice hockey tournament

By The Bridge Desk – The Bridge

The Ladakh Women Ice Hockey Foundation (LWIHF) organised its second yearly Ice Hockey tournament at Phobrang village in Changthang.

The Ladakh Women Ice Hockey Foundation (LWIHF) organised its second yearly Ice Hockey tournament in collaboration with Pangong Youth Cooperative Society for Environment and Care (PYCSEC) at Phobrang village in Changthang. The village lies at an elevation of 14,635 feet above sea level in Ladakh from 15th to 18th December 2019. 

LWIHF was formed by the female Ice hockey players of Ladakh in 2015 and has been engaged in various activities since then to promote Ice Hockey in the region and the country. It is the highest altitude game of ice hockey in the world. 

The ice hockey season in Ladakh lasts for roughly two-and-a-half months. In this period, different clubs and village associations organise winter camps and tournaments. But most of these tournaments are open only for the men teams and individuals. Keeping the scarcity of tournaments for women, LWIHF decided to organise a tournament specifically for the women teams in January 2019 together with Chuchot Sports and Welfare Association in Leh, where four teams participated.

Keeping the positive impact of the 1st tournament, LWIHF organised the 2nd tournament in which 6 teams participated, namely Lalok team, JKP team, Kargyam team, SECMOL team, YAGM team and SAVE Changthang team. A total of 85 girls participated in the tournament. The tournament was funded by the District Administration – District youth services and Sports, Leh under the Khelo India Scheme: Sports for Peace and development. Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) supported the tournament by providing dry ration for the players.

The final match was played between Lalok team and Kargyam team

The girls moved from Leh to the destination on 14 December and two buses were arranged, a community hall was arranged for the participants where the teams stayed together during the tournament period.

The final match was played between Lalok team and Kargyam team. The Lalok team emerged as the champions by scoring 6 goals and conceded none.

The Hockey Foundation earlier raised $30,000 for charity and donated the supplies used for the attempt to the Ladakh Winter Sports Club to help them finish the construction of their first full-sized ice hockey rink, helping to bring jobs and activities to the locals in that region of India.

Swiss women surprise

Swiss forward Lara Stalder led the Four Nations tournament in Fussen in goals and points

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

About three months away from the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship various teams used the December international break to test against their competitors.

In Hartford, Connecticut, the Rivalry Series between the United States and Canada began with a 4-1 home-win for Team USA thanks to a 31-save performance from Alex Cavallini and multi-point efforts from Alex Carpenter, Amanda Kessel and Kelly Pannek. Victoria Bach scored Canada’s goal.

“I thought everybody played well and we played at a high compete level tonight,” said Team USA head coach Bob Corkum. “We managed the puck much better than we did in Pittsburgh. It was a great environment here in Hartford and we’re thankful to all the fans who came out and supported us.”

The series continues tonight in Moncton, N.B. and with three games in February in Victoria, B.C., Vancouver, B.C. and Anaheim, Calif

Switzerland wins in Fussen

Back in Europe it was time for the traditional tournaments during the international breaks where Switzerland had one of its best performances in years.

Since winning bronze medals at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the Swiss haven’t reached the top-4 anymore in five attempts. And they haven’t beaten Finland during seven-and-a-half years and 12 games.

Not so this month as the Swiss opened the Four Nations tournament in Fussen with a 5-4 shootout win against the Finns, who have been the best European team in the last three seasons.

Susanna Tapani and Noora Tulus each scored a pair of goals for Finland but the Swiss came back from a two-goal deficit with goals from Lara Stalder, Dominique Ruegg, Alina Muller and Rahel Enzler for a 4-3 lead. Eventually the Finns tied the game at four and it went to overtime and shootout where Stalder scored the game-winning goal.

Switzerland continued with another tight win, 5-4 in overtime against host Germany. Again the Swiss came back from a 2-0 deficit. Laura Zimmermann scored two goals in regulation time and Stalder again had two goals including the game-winner at 3:54 in overtime.

The Swiss confirmed the tournament win with a 4-0 blanking of Sweden on the last day, which for the Swedes continued a nightmarish year that started with the first relegation of a Swedish ice hockey national team in any World Championship category. Alina Muller scored two goals for Switzerland in that game.

Stalder was named best forward of the tournament with a tournament-leading four goals and six points while the Swiss also had stellar goaltending. 19-year-old Saskia Maurer helped the Swiss in their upset win against Finland with 36 saves followed by a 31-save shutout against Sweden in her other game.

“The sensational team spirit and professional attitude were the main reasons for the success,” said head coach Colin Muller. “We played indeed well. It was noticeable that compared to the previous tournament we had an experienced team here. We did a step forward but still have potential for improvement.”

Finland also lost its second game, 4-1 to Sweden, but thanks to a 3-2 win against Germany reached four points, which was enough for second place before Germany and Sweden

Young Russians wins in Sochi

Further east Russia hosted a Six Nations Tournament at the Olympic park in Sochi. Even though the Russians tested a B squad rather than the official women’s national team, they won the tournament.

The Russians beat Norway (4-2) and Denmark (6-0) in the group stage before celebrating a 3-1 win in the final against the Czech Republic, the other group winner.

The tournament was also an opportunity for the two newly promoted Women’s Worlds teams to test against higher opposition. Hungary with a 2-1 record and third place fared better than Denmark, which eventually got its first win in the game for fifth place against France.

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