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2016 IIHF U18 Women’s Day 5 Recap: USA and Canada win, set up Gold Medal Showdown

Day 5 of the Women’s U18 Hockey Championships has come to an end and as predicted USA and Canada will meet in the gold medal game Friday night.

The Americans had little trouble in eliminating Sweden 4-0 in the days first semi-final match.

F11C7442Natalie Heising put the United States up 1-0 early in the first. Sydney Brodt added a shorthanded goal and Emily Oden added another at even strength to extend the US lead in the 2nd to 3-0.

Taylor Heise scored her second of the tournament to close out the scoring for the Americans in the 3rd for a 4-0 final.

“Now that we’re there, we’re excited, and we want to win the gold,” Heising said after the game.

The final shot total heavily favored the US 43-9.

Goaltender Ellen Jonsson was certainly a bright spot for team Sweden. She kept her team in the game giving the Swedes a fair chance through 2 periods.

Sweden will play Russia in the Bronze medal game also to be played on Friday.

Canada dominated Russia by a similar 4-0 score.

Russia put up very little resistance and were outshot 43-12 by a hungry Canadian team.

Despite out shooting the Russian girls 12-1, Team Canada only held a 1-0 lead after one thanks to Ashton Bell’s second goal of the tournament.

A similar dominant second period once again only saw Canada add one to their lead after Ryleigh Houston’s powerplay tally.

Leading 2-0 heading into the third it was only a matter of time before Russia’s defense collapsed. Ashton Bell and Kayla Friesen scored 25 second apart early in the third to put the game away.

Team Russia will look to repeat last years Bronze medal performance again Sweden at 4pm EST tomorrow at the Meridian Center.

Gold medal rematch set.

As most expected, USA and Canada will faceoff again in the gold medal match.

I mentioned it in previous articles but last year both teams appeared to be on even ground heading into the final game. Mondays 4-1 victory by the US certainly showed quite a gap between the two countries this year.

Canada appeared much more confident in their semi-final against Russia today so could we be in for a much better USA-Canada showdown tomorrow? It would be great for the game if we got drama similar to last years tournament in Buffalo. For that to happen, the Canadians will need to be able to match or at least neutralize the Americans superior speed. Hockey is a game of bounces sometimes and if Canada are able to weather an early storm by Team USA, it could be a tight one til the end.

Switzerland defeats France to stay at the top level.

The 2-0 loss will see France relegated for next years tournament. Switzerland by virtue of the win will stay in the top level.

As for the country that will replace France in 2017, Japan defeated Slovakia 4-1 in the Division 1 tournament that is being played in Hungary. Japan will make its way back after being relegated at last years tournament in Buffalo.

(Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)

 

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U18 Women’s Hockey: USA takes top seed. Finland sneaks in.

Match day #3 has come to an end. Its been a fun few days of hockey lasting from noon until past 9pm. As the prelim round comes to a close, it marks the half way point for the tournament. So far attendance has been very good and the atmosphere for the bigger matches has been as good as any high level international competition.

Despite Harborcenter’s construction being incomplete and perhaps a bit rushed, Terry Pegula’s new complex has shown well for its first large tournament. All games have run smoothly. Spectators have had nothing but compliments for the aesthetics of the main rink, the layout for concessions, and other small nuances of the building.

With Buffalo throwing its name in the ring to host the 2018 Mens World Juniors, its perfect timing to showcase the new secondary ice surface to the IIHF. Having left good impressions with the Federation despite the less than ideal Dwyer Arena in 2011, there is no doubt a much more efficient rink such as Harborcenter will enhance the bid.

10897055_10100617696598295_8976404382734326713_nThe marquee game of the night was between USA and Russia. A near sellout crowd created a very energetic advantage for the home side. Mini US flags were handed out early and created a nice scene when waved all at once after goals.

The Russians didn’t put up much fight as it felt like the entire game was played in their end. The Americans proved too quick and skilled cruising to a 7-1 victory and a 29-8 shot advantage.

Melissa Samoskevich put on a show most of the game for the Americans notching a hat trick and player of the match honors.

USA finished the opening round with the top seed and point total. They also receive a bye into the semi-finals Sunday night at 7pm. They await the winner of the Czech Republic/Sweden game to be played Friday.

Speaking of the Czech Republic, they surprised many taking a 1-0 lead late into the first period against Canada. But the equalizer came with 1:29 left. Despite the Czechs being outshot 14 to 5 the score was only 1-1 heading into the locker room.

The Canadians settled down in the 2nd period and were able to score 4 goals. They also had an impressive 20-0 shot margin in the frame.

Sarah Potomak had 2 goals and 2 assists for Canada as they secured the 2nd bye in the playoff round with a convincing 7-1 victory

One of the most interesting matches of the day was between neighboring rivals Sweden and Finland. 

The Swiss could only look on needing Sweden to take care of the Fins thus pushing them through to the playoff round.

However the Finnish ladies had different plans. Despite trailing 1-0 after the first period, they stormed out to 3 goals on 9 shots in the second. They would hang on to a 3-1 victory behind 2 points from captain Anniina Kaitala.

Switzerland was the odd (wo)man out in the 3 way tiebreaker based on goal differential. They will now face Japan in a best of 3 series to see who will remain in the top division next year.

 

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IIHF Women’s U18 tournament kicks off in Buffalo, should you go?

Today kicks off the IIHF Women’s U18 World Ice Hockey Championships in Buffalo. One of the first large events to be hosted by Pegula’s new Harborcenter complex. The tournament doesn’t draw the same fanfare and attention that the Men’s Junior (currently finishing up in Toronto/Montreal) but is worth attending for many reasons.

3e7de7e573I love international competition. Even more so international hockey. So my interest is already peaked. But the U18’s are actually the highest level of “junior” hockey for the ladies. After this the best competitions for them are the Olympics and the over 18 Worlds. So this isn’t low level high school puck here, its expected to be good hockey.

And with that I made my way down to the new facility for the opening game. Japan vs. Sweden. A matchup that didn’t bring in the big crowds but ended up being entertaining nonetheless. You would expect the Swedes to coast mainly because of their rich history in the sport as opposed to Japan, but you would also have been mistaken.

Sweden held a 2-1 lead late into the third period before Japan scored an equalizer with 3 minutes remaining. Looking like we were possibly in for an upset, Hanna Olsen of Sweden finished a beautiful one timer from the slot to retake the lead 3-2 with under a minute to play. This would end up being the game winner. Final shots were 28-25 in favor of Japan.

The first game alone was entertaining and showed this tournament could be competitive even from the underdogs.

Why should you attend the games? The above should give you one decent reason. The hockey isn’t bad. There is no checking in the women’s game (although I saw one big collision that resulted in a penalty) but there is plenty of good skating and passing. Personally I like my international hockey that way.

Second reason to attend is the venue. The new Harborcenter is a very good venue for hockey. The main rink is on the 7th floor and provides a nice atmosphere with views of downtown. There are no bad seats and even the standing room is good as you a provided with your own mini tables. This a perfect time finally check out the facilities if you haven’t yet.

Affordability. The games are all $5 except for the later rounds.  Semi-finals are $10 and the gold/bronze medal games are $20. Matches run all day from noon until 930pm at night so if you’re off during the week it provides some nice mid day entertainment. You can park in the large garage that is directly attached to the arenas at no cost (at least for the earlier games). For the first contest I was able to find dozens of open spots.

Lastly USA/Canada is AS GOOD of a rivalry in women’s hockey as it is in men’s. The Gold Medal loss in Sochi for the women stuck with me longer than the early round loss to Canada by the men

Tonight’s game is sold out between the two sides but its all but expected (not guaranteed of course) to end up Canada vs. USA in the gold medal game next monday. Tickets are almost sold out for that game too so I suggest you get them quick.

Lastly for the merchandise hunters, it appears there are no country specific items such as jerseys/scarfs/hats available. However in the Rink 1 pro-shop you will find commemorative shirts and hoodies for the event.

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