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U18 Women’s Hockey: Quarterfinal drama sets up for big Sunday

Who said women’s hockey isn’t exciting?

Friday provided two of the most tense quarterfinal hockey games you’ll see in any competition.

In the first game Finland jumped out to a shocking 3-0 lead on Russia after one period.

10917031_10152969747575900_859150723370636114_nThe Fins held on most of the second period but you could tell the Russians were starting to find their legs after having just played the night before. They were able to cut the lead to 3-1 after 2.

Halfway through the third frame Fanuza Kadirova tied the game 3-3 setting up for a dramatic end.

With under 10 seconds to go, the Finnish defender lost control of the puck high in the Russian zone. Kadirova broke free for a breakaway and with 3 seconds left, deposited the rubber in the back of the net capping off an incredible comeback.

You have to feel for the girls from Finland. They were playing with a pure nothing to lose approach after having qualified in their final game of the preliminary round. However they weren’t able to defend the early 3 goal lead they built.

Russia will play Canada Sunday 3pm at Harborcenter in the first semi-final. Canada won the opening round matchup 3-2 despite dominating the game in most statistical categories. If Russia can play a full 60 minutes we could certainly have a great game on our hands.

 

The Czech Republic and Sweden were next up in the night matchup. As with the earlier game, the Czechs jumped out to a 3-0 lead near the midway point of the game.

The Swedes were able to get one back on the powerplay to make it 3-1 heading into the 3rd.

Hanna Olsson was able to close the gap to 3-2 and it seemed we were in for a similar finish. However Michaela Pejzlova gave the Czechs a very important breather goal five minutes later.

Just to keep things interesting Celine Tendenby (SWE) found the back of the net with under 3 minutes to play cutting the lead to 4-3. But that was all Sweden could muster despite holding an 18-5 shot advantage in the 3rd period and a total game advantage of 40-25.

This game also featured two of my favorite players to watch from an individual skill standpoint. #23 Hanna Olsson from Sweden generally appeared able to take over a game whenever she wanted. I couldn’t figure out why she was tentative to do so at times. She possessed superior size and skating ability to most girls on the ice.

The other would be #18 Michaela Pejzlova. The Czech captain has some of the best hands and one-on-one ability of anyone I’ve seen in the tournament. She also has a bit of a feisty competitive edge that should help in a very tough match against the Americans.

The Czech Republic will play the United States at 7pm Sunday in the second semi-final. The US dominated the first match up 3-0 and 24-8 in shots.

It appears we are headed for a highly anticipated USA-Canada Gold medal game Monday but the Russians and the Czechs both appear to be up for the challenge.

(Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)

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