Posts Tagged ‘u18 women’s hockey’

2016 IIHF U18 Women’s Hockey: USA takes GOLD in OT Thriller again

I’ve been writing how it would be impossible for this tournament to have the same dramatic ending as last year in Buffalo.

Boy was I wrong.

USA for the second straight year has taken home the gold in Overtime.

Natalie Snodgrass was this years hero as she buried a backhander less than 2 minutes into the first OT period.

FLAP9778“I was in the right spot at the right time … I threw my gloves in the air!” Snodgrass said joyfully.

Its hard to put in to words what we saw tonight at the sold out Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.

Team Canada made all the right adjustments after being heavily outplayed in a 4-1 loss to the US on Monday.

The Canadians played a smarter team game. They were able to keep the US to the outside for most of the game. They also made sure to get pucks deep in the American zone.

The biggest difference is that they were able to finish their chances. Jamie Bourbonnais put Canada on the board late in the first. And early in the second Daryl Watts extended the lead to 2-0. 

American goalie Alex Gulstene made multiple blind saves early in the period to keep USA within reach. Canada could have found themselves up 3-0 or 4-0 easily.

The big turning point came when American Alex Woken stole a puck and head in on a half breakaway. She let it fly and it found the back of the net to get USA back to within 1.

The third period was back and forth with both teams trading chances.

As pressure from the Americans mounted, Natalie Snodgrass was able to put one past Canadian keeper Stephanie Neatby to tie the game at 2.

Alex Gulstene came up with a couple huge stops with less than 10 seconds to go to get USA to the overtime period.

Then the stage was set.

1:47 into the overtime period, the US were able to get the puck to the net and big rebound came to Snodgrass and she made no mistake.

USA would be wearing the gold for a second straight year. By the same score. And also in Overtime.

Congrats to all the teams. Canada were not as strong as the United States this year but they made the adjustments and came so close to pulling off the gold medal victory. They should be commended for their effort. Also a congrats to Team Sweden who defeated Russia 2-1 earlier for the Bronze medal.

The city of St Catharines, Hockey Canada, and the IIHF put on another marvelous event. Hopefully we will see you all next year.

Lastly here is my All Tournament Team

G – Emma Soderberg (SWE)
F – Alina Muller (SUI)
F – Ashton Bell (CAN)
F –  Fanuza Kadirova (RUS)
D – Cayla Barnes (USA)
D – Jessica Adolfsson (SWE)
MVP – Natalie Snodgrass (USA)

 

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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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2016 IIHF U18 Women’s Day 3 Recap: USA overpowers Canada, Finland sneaks into playoff

There were a couple story lines heading into the last day of pool play.

The final spot in the playoff round was up for grabs and the USA – Canada rematch that everyone was waiting for.

Let’s start with USA Canada of course.

USA capitalizes on powerplay to defeat Canada

Last year in Buffalo, USA grabbed gold from the Canadians with a 3-2 OT thriller when Jincy Dunne ripped one in the top corner.

Some figured as we hopped over the border that Canada might have the edge this year. After all the teams were very even in last years tournament providing 2 great games.

However things have started a bit different in this years version of the rivalry.

CHYT2361An IIHF U18 Women’s attendance record saw more than 4,000 spectators pack the Meridian Centre in St. Catherines. An almost unanimous pro Canada crowd was buzzing for a long time before puck drop. The support was great to see for the women’s game and the growth it has seen over the last few years.

However the warm feelings of the crowd soon came to an end. Canada’s lack of discipline saw the Americans get 3 early powerplays. Sydney Brodt put the US on the board 1-0 before Rebecca Gilmore added to the lead halfway through the first to give them a 2-0 advantage.

The first period ended with a 16-4 shot margin in favor of USA and things were not looking good for Team Canada.

Natalie Snodgrass added another powerplay goal in the 2nd to extend the lead to 3-0. The Canadians held a 11-7 shot advantage in the second frame but were still held mostly to perimeter shots.

Despite the Americans strong play overall, Canada’s Julia Edgar finally gave the packed crowd something to hang onto as she made it 3-1 late in the 3rd on her first of the tournament.

The hope was short lived as Rebecca Gilmore notched her second of the game on the empty net for a 4-1 US win.

The final shot total favored the Canadians 34-32 in what ended up as a back and forth game late.

However my observations of Team Canada from their game against Russia held up in this one. They continued to let the other teams speed dictate the pace of play and they allow too many odd (wo)man rushes.

Despite the shot advantage and the modest 4-1 final, USA seemed to have the edge in just about every area of on ice play. They were faster in the breakout, stronger on the boards and were able to generate many more offensive possessions deep in the opposing zone. The Canadian women generally were reduced to shots from just inside the blue line whenever they gained entry to the American zone.

As I mentioned earlier, the two sides seemed even last year in the 2015 IIHF U18 tournament, but this year the Americans have seemed to widen the gap and appear much faster and confident than the Canadian women.

However we should remember that all this means nothing until Friday nights gold medal match. If we get the rematch between the two, which is expected, its a clean slate for Canada. However they have a lot to work on if they are going to give USA a run for the gold.

Finland gets big win to advance to playoff round

Overlooked by the USA vs. Canada match was a very important game that would decide the final team to qualify for the medal round.

It was looking bleak for Team Finland. They had to beat rivals Sweden which was no small task. After losing to Switzerland 2-0 on Saturday it seemed even more unlikely. But Team Finland coach Jari Risku sent the right message.

“I told them to relax and have the confidence that we have the skills to win,”  Risku said after. “We didn’t play like that against Switzerland, but today we did. Trust yourself. Trust your teammates. Let the passion out. That is it.”

A 3-1 Finnish victory would follow that would leapfrog them over Switzerland for the final spot. The Swiss had the easier task of taking on newcomers France if only Sweden could have given them some help.

As it stands now France will play Switzerland in a best of 3 series to see who will stay at the top level for the 2017 tournament.

Up next on Tuesday should be two good quarterfinal matchups between Sweden – Czech Republic and Russia – Finland.

U18 Women’s Hockey: Stage set for USA CANADA gold rematch

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As the tournament began last Monday, most were expecting the USA/Canada Gold medal game to be all but certain. After Sunday’s relatively uneventful semi-final matches, that is exactly what we have.

Despite Canada out-shooting Russia 22-2 the score was tied 1-1 heading into the second.

The Canadians would eventually score 2 more to win the first of the days semi-final matches 3-1 with a 51-18 shot advantage.

Sarah Potomak continued her strong U18WWC by adding two points to her tournament lead which now stands at 9.

In the late match the United States rolled to a 5-0 victory and an even more overwhelming 66-11 shot advantage over the Czech Republic.

Rebecca Gilmore had a big game for the US with 2 goals and 2 assists. She was also named player of the match for the US side.  Melissa Samoskevich continued her standout tournament with 2 goals and 2 assists of her own.

Czech Republic goaltender Katerina Zechovska was named player of the match for their side as she turned aside 48 of 52 shots. She was pulled late in the 3rd as she looked visibly tired and drained. The effort earned a well deserved applause by the pro-US crowd post game.

Another solid showing of 1,430  spectators cheered on the United States. Mini American Flags were once again handed out to create a nice scene after each US goal.

Tomorrow’s Gold Medal match has been sold out since last Tuesday so nothing less than a spectacular atmosphere is expected. I can’t say for sure what the crowd division will be. Normally when you are this close to the border you’d bank on 70/30 pro-Canadian. However the US support has been strong in this tournament and I can see it closer to 50-50.

The Czech Republic will take on Russia for the Bronze medal earlier on Monday. Despite USA and Canada being the two superior teams today, a bronze medal is still a fantastic goal for both countries. I expect this game to be pretty good as well.

In other action on the day Switzerland beat Japan 3-2 in a shootout to wrap up their relegation series 2-0. Japan will be relegated to the 2nd division next year to make room for France who will move up.

Japan may have deserved a better fate after playing an incredible tournament. Most of their matches concluded with them out-shooting opponents and 1-2 goal losses. They should return home proud of how they played but no doubt the demotion will be on their minds.

Sweden and Finland played in the 5th place game with the Fins beating their geographic neighbors for the 2nd time in the tournament.

 

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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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