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.
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)