Year: 2017 (page 1 of 22)

Sweden wins gold over Canada in shootout at world championship

http://www.iihfworlds2017.com/media/1763449/ARX23092_Channel%20Homepage%20Slider.jpg

By The Canadian Press

COLOGNE, Germany — Nicklas Backstrom and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored in the shootout for Sweden as it beat Canada 2-1 on Sunday to capture gold at the world hockey championship.

Victor Hedman scored late in the second period shorthanded to give the Swedes a 1-0 lead. Henrik Lundqvist picked up the win in net with 42 saves.

Ryan O’Reilly tied the game at 1-1 with a power-play goal early in the third. Calvin Pickard stopped 40 shots and took the loss.

The win is Sweden’s first in four tries against Canada since the IIHF instituted the playoff system in 1992, and their first since 2013. Sweden stops Canada from being the first team to three-peat since the Czechs accomplished the feat between 1999 and 2001.

Just like in Saturday’s 4-2 semifinal comeback win over Russia, there was no scoring in the first period. After competing in separate groups in the preliminary round, the Swedes and Canadians went through a feeling-out process. Shots were 12-10 for Sweden in the first, with Canada easily able to kill off two penalties against the ninth-ranked Swedish power play.

Hedman got Sweden on the scoreboard with Nicklas Backstrom serving his second penalty of the game. Hedman’s bouncing shot from the point off a broken play eluded Pickard with 20.8 seconds left in the period.

The Canadians once again used their lethal power play to get back into the game in the third with Elias Lindholm whistled for high sticking at 1:48. It took just 10 seconds for O’Reilly to tie the game at 1-1 by flipping a Mitch Marner rebound over the right shoulder of Lundqvist. It was the first special-teams goal that Lundqvist had surrendered in five tournament games.

Canada tested its tournament-best penalty kill when Mike Matheson took a tripping penalty with 3:18 to play in the third period, but the Swedes matched them with an untimely too-many-men penalty with 1:24 left on the clock.

Sweden had a slight territorial edge in overtime by outshooting Canada 11-10. Sean Couturier was whistled for tripping with 10:51 left in overtime but the Canadian penalty killers were up to the task.

Alex Killorn fed Matt Duchene with a nifty spin-o-rama pass late in overtime, but his shot was stopped by Lundqvist.

Sweden called a timeout to set up an offensive-zone faceoff with 21 seconds left to play in overtime. Claude Giroux won the crucial draw to allow the Canadians to get the puck out of danger and set up the shootout.

In the shootout, William Nylander was denied by Pickard, then Nathan MacKinnon couldn’t slip his shot through Lundqvist’s five-hole. Backstrom, Sweden’s second shooter, beat Pickard low to the stick side before Brayden Point’s attempt was snagged by Lundqvist’s glove. Oliver Ekman-Larsson caught Pickard moving to put Sweden up 2-0, then Ryan O’Reilly was denied by Lundqvist. Pickard kept Canada alive by stopping his Colorado Avalanche teammate Gabriel Landeskog before Lundqvist stopped Marner to secure the gold for Sweden.

William Nylander capped his first appearance at the World Championship with both a gold medal and MVP honors.

The young forward led his country in scoring with 14 points in 10 games, and his seven goals tied for first among all players.

 

Russia outlasts Finland to earn bronze at worlds

http://www.iihfworlds2017.com/media/1760098/ARX22812_Channel%20Homepage%20Slider.jpg

By Flip Livingstone – the score

The Russians proved to be too much for Finland on Sunday at the World Championship in Cologne, Germany, as the Red Machine pulled out a 5-3 victory to earn the bronze medal.

Nikita Gusev continued his hot streak with two goals and an assist, Valeri Nichushkin added three helpers, and Andrei Vasilevski made 26 saves in the win.

Despite scoring three goals, the Finns were never really in the game and have the Russian’s sloppy play to thank for the trio of tallies. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist and 19-year-old Sebastian Aho chipped in with two apples in the losing cause.

Russia broke out to a formidable 4-0 lead – chasing Finland goalie Joonas Korpisalo from his net – before allowing the Finns to score three unanswered goals. The comeback effort would be for naught, however, as Nikita Kucherov sealed the victory with just under 12 minutes to play with his seventh goal of the tournament.

Finland fails to medal for the fifth time in eight years, while the Russians earned some hardware for the fourth consecutive tournament.

IIHF adds eight to Hall

http://www.iihfworlds2017.com/media/1758683/ZA5_6064_Channel%20Homepage%20Slider.jpg

By John Sanful – IIHF.com

The event, hosted by international hockey broadcaster Gord Miller, inducted eight members whose contributions to the sport have helped transform the game as they have served as hockey ambassadors for their respective countries. The IIHF Hall of Fame opened in 1997 to celebrate a century of the game being played. Inductees have included some of the biggest names and international contributors to the sport.

Saku Koivu won eight medals on the international stage, including leading Finland to its first ever World Championship gold in 1995. Koivu would play for the Montreal Canadiens and, later, the Anaheim Ducks. He would become the first European captain of the Canadiens. Koivu is also known for his courage off the ice. He battled Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that kept him out for almost an entire season, including the 2002 Olympics.

“It seems like I’ve come full circle coming back to Germany and being honoured for my career,” Koivu said, reflecting that he made his senior men’s debut with the Finnish national team at the 1993 World Championship in Germany.

Angela Ruggiero was a world-class defenceman and competitor for Team USA. Her contributions in hockey continue to this day as she continues to break down barriers. She earned four Women’s World Championship gold medals and gold at the 1998 Olympics. In 2015, Ruggiero was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Ruggiero could not make the event when her father Bill passed away suddenly but her brother Billy was on hand to accept the honour and pay tribute to his sister.

Dieter Kalt was a star player in the 1960s in the Austrian league and has been the face of Austrian hockey for half a century. He represented Austrian at the 1962 World Championships in Colorado Springs and in every major IIHF event from 1962-1972.

After retirement, Kalt was a referee and coach and then President of the Austrian Ice Hockey Federation from 1996-2016.

“This is an honor and I accept this for all that we have done for the development of our federation. We organized world championships and Olympic qualification games. We did this because we had big support from the IIHF, president, council, and delegates.”

Joe Sakic had an illustrious career with the Quebec Nordiques and then the Colorado Avalanche when the team moved to the United States. He captained the Avalanche for 17 years making him one of the longest serving captains in NHL history. Sakic is also the NHL’s all-time leader in playoff overtime goals. Winning World Championship and Olympic gold, along with the Stanley Cup, Sakic is a member of the prestigious triple gold club.

“It was always very humbling playing for your country,” Sakic said. “To be able to play in the World Championships, Olympics, World Cup, there is nothing like it. I am very fortunate for my teammates. I’ve had the good fortune to play with some of the best to play the game and learn from them.”

The Richard “Bibi” Torriani award was presented to Tony Hand, the greatest player in Great Britain’s modern hockey history. The Edmonton Oilers selected Hand 252nd overall in the 1986 draft, the first British player ever taken. When Hand attended training camp, Edmonton general manager Glen Sather announced that the Scottish Wayne Gretzky would try out for the team, which some might have led to think that a player who trained and played in Great Britain would be a curiosity.

“Turns out he was more than just a curiosity; he was a terrific player there and everywhere he played,” Miller said. “It is fair to say that very few players were better longer than Tony Hand.”

Hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland, Hand played professional hockey in the BHL as a 14-year-old and finally in the English Premier Ice Hockey League at the age of 47.

The Paul Loicq award was presented Patrick Francheterre. Francheterre has been involved with French hockey for the better part of half a century. As a pivotal builder of French hockey, Francheterre has overseen the development of the sport and his country’s ascension into the top division of the World Championships.

Teemu Selanne said today’s honour means so much because as a boy, his hope was to play in the top league in Finland and, maybe if things went well, the national team. The NHL was not a thought at the time. Selanne, known as the Finnish Flash, scored 684 goals in 21 NHL seasons and won the Stanley Cup in 2007 and silver medals at the World Championships in 1999 and Olympics in 2006.

“It has been an honour to put this jersey on,” Selanne said pointing to the legendary Finland blue. “You can’t describe this feeling of what it means to put this jersey on and play for your own country. I am so very thankful.”

Finally, Cologne’s own Uwe Krupp gave an emotional presentation about receiving this honour in his hometown. First noticed by Scotty Bowman, Krupp was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres and would go on to an NHL career that spanned 14 seasons with honours that included being the first German to score a Cup-winning goal and the first German player to win the Stanley Cup.

“I am privileged and fortunate to know so many people who were able to take this awkward kid from Cologne, Germany, the first German to come to North America to help him on his way and help him learn to play hockey in the best league in the world.”

He spoke fondly of Franz Reindl and how he was an important person in his career and the next step in his career that has included coaching the German junior and senior teams.

Day Fourteen At The Worlds

https://d13csqd2kn0ewr.cloudfront.net/uploads/image/file/245738/w768xh576_2017-05-20T153530Z_1888045195_UP1ED5K17B5QF_RTRMADP_3_ICEHOCKEY-WORLD.jpg?ts=1495294758

By

Canada completes comeback to eliminate Russia, will play for gold

It’s not over until it’s over.

Team Canada put together a four-goal effort in the third period for a 4-2 comeback victory over Team Russia in semifinal action Saturday.

The two sides were scoreless through the first 20 minutes, but goals by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nikita Gusev helped Russia take a 2-0 lead into the final frame.

Vadim Shipachyov, who recently signed with the Vegas Golden Knights, drew an assist on Gusev’s goal, marking his 13th point of the tournament.

Canada got on the board just 17 seconds into the third with a goal from Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele, who tipped a shot by Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon drew an assist on Scheifele’s goal, then added a tally of his own from the slot with less than five minutes remaining in the third to bring the score to 2-2.

Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly completed the comeback just 1:51 later, registering his fifth goal of the tournament to put Canada ahead. The team would tally again, with Sean Couturier adding an empty-net goal.

Canada will advance to the gold medal game to face the winner of Saturday’s match between Finland and Sweden.

The country has won gold the past two years, defeating Russia in 2015 and Finland in 2016.

Sweden downs Finland to advance to gold medal game

By Sean O’Leary – The Score

Sweden defeated rival Finland 4-1 on Saturday to advance to the gold medal game of the 2017 IIHF World Championship. The Swedes will battle Team Canada for international supremacy.

Just 1:49 into the first period, Nicklas Backstrom‘s faceoff win was one-timed by defenseman Alex Edler past goaltender Harri Sateri to give Sweden an early lead.

Three minutes later, Joonas Kemppainen pounced on a loose puck and pushed it by Henrik Lundqvist to tie things at 1-1, but that’s as close as Finland, who will take on Russia in the bronze medal match Sunday, would get.

Sweden’s power play took over in the middle frame, with goals from John Klingberg and William Nylander, who leads the tournament with seven tallies in nine games and is tied for second with 14 points.

Joakim Nordstrom added a fourth goal late in the third period, which was a suffocating 20 minutes from Sweden’s talented blue-liners, as the final shot count finished 41-23 in favor of Tre Kronor.

Sweden hasn’t played for gold since 2013, when they defeated Switzerland on home soil. The Swedes and Canadians last met in the final in 2004, with Canada winning the title.

Puck drop for the deciding game is set for 4:45 p.m. ET.

Joint bid from Belarus & Latvia wins tight race

https://cdn2.img.sputniknews.com/images/105377/61/1053776173.jpg

Martin Merk – IIHF.com

After a tight race between two strong applicants the 2017 IIHF Annual Congress allocated the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship to the joint bid of Minsk, Belarus, and Riga, Latvia.

The joint bid of the two neighbouring countries won by a tight margin against the Finnish bid with the cities of Tampere and Helsinki. The proposed dates are 7-23 May 2021.

The two countries decided a few months to join together for the bid with the slogan “Passion. No Borders” that seeks to show a good relationship between a country in and another outside of the European Union, which they symbolically did at yesterday’s presentation with a video sequence from a space shuttle, and without borders. And it emphasized that the passion of the hockey fans from both countries is well known despite the fact that the two countries are neither among the biggest ones in population in Europe nor among the very top nations in the World Ranking. Belarus will be ranked 10th in the new IIHF World Ranking, Latvia 12th.

Minsk is the Belarusian capital, with almost two million inhabitants and 3.4 million in the region. In 2014 it broke the World Championship attendance record that was reclaimed by the Czechs in 2015. For 2021 the 15,086-seat Minsk Arena, with two practice rinks on site, would be used as the primary venue.

Minsk is the cultural centre of Belarus with numerous events and activities. The bid presentation recalled the great atmosphere of 2014, with its downtown fan village and fan zone as well as the convenience of Minsk Arena being just 15 minutes from the city center and the airport.

“We learned a lot from organizing the 2006 World Championship in Riga and the 2014 World Championship in Minsk and with that experience can make things even better in 2021,” said Belarusian Ice Hockey Association General Secretary Yaraslau Zauharodni.

Riga, Latvia’s capital, is just a one-hour flight away. It has 640,000 inhabitants and 1.4 million people living in a 100-kilometre radius. Latvia is renowned for its passionate fans traveling to World Championships all around the world, and the country hopes to recreate the great atmosphere of 2006 when the 10,300-seat Arena Riga was opened to host the Worlds. And they promise that a new practice arena will be built next to it.

“I truly believe in a Europe with no borders and with passion. It would be a fantastic experience to show that Europe is about passion, not about borders. I truly believe in social responsibility. And that also means the prices for fans. They will not have to pay a lot. It’s just €2.20 for a beer and in Minsk it’s even cheaper,” said Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs in his speech. And Minsk Mayor Andrei Shorets added that in Minsk it’s even less, just one euro.

New LHF President Aigars Kalvitis remembers the 2006 Worlds in Riga well. At that time he was the Prime Minister.

“Hockey is loved so much in our country and we are thankful that our Belarusians friends invited us. In Cologne we had at least 7,000 to 8,000 Latvian fans who supported the team. We hope with this championship we will develop hockey in the region,” he said.

Both arenas were opened to host the first-ever World Championship in each county, the Arena Riga for the 2006 Worlds and the Minsk Arena for the 2014 edition. The two venues also hosted the Final Olympic Qualification stages in 2016 as well as World Championships in the U20, U18 and women’s categories and the IIHF Continental Cup. They are currently mainly used by the local KHL teams, Dynamo Minsk and Dinamo Riga. Dynamo Minsk has the highest attendance in the KHL and the second best in Europe.

“Ice hockey is number one in our countries. You would give us the biggest honour possible and the greatest event our countries can host,” said IIHF Council Member and BIHA Vice President Sergej Gontcharov.

The upcoming IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships:
2018: Copenhagen & Herning (Denmark) – Website
2019: Bratislava & Kosice (Slovakia)
2020: Zurich & Lausanne (Switzerland)
2021: Minsk (Belarus) & Riga (Latvia)

Women’s Worlds grows

http://www.iihf.com/typo3temp/pics/52921d0cef.jpg

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

The 2017 IIHF Annual Congress unanimously approved to extend the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship from eight to ten teams as of 2019.

The change was recommended by the IIHF Women’s Committee and by the IIHF Council and today ratified by the IIHF’s member national associations to give women’s hockey another boost.

“We started the discussion three years ago within the committee because we felt that since the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 women’s hockey has developed so much,” said IIHF Council member Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer.

“We still can feel the gap between the North American teams and the rest of the world. However, the gap between the third and 15th team is not that big anymore. This is the next step to promote the women’s game.”

With the increasing number of participating teams – 37 countries were entered in the Women’s World Championship program in six tournaments – and the increasing competitiveness the proposal was to extend the number of teams in the top-tier event to ten teams as of the 2018/2019 ice hockey season and with this step aim to discuss with the International Olympic Committee to have ten teams at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

The top division has been played with eight teams ever since the first tournament in 1990, the only exception being the 2004 edition that featured nine teams (when one team was promoted but no team was relegated in 2003 due to the cancellation of the top tournament in China because of the outbreak of the SARS disease).

The IIHF Statutes & Bylaws will have to be amended by the 2018 IIHF Annual Congress in one year to formally implement the change and by then a playing format for the ten-team Women’s World Championship will be established and proposed by the IIHF Competition and Coordination Committee in co-operation with the IIHF Women’s Committee.

With the IIHF membership accepting the extension, the new format for 2018/2019 with ten teams will be reached as follows:

– No team in the entire 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program for all divisions will be relegated. This also means the last-ranked team Czech Republic will stay in the top division for 2019 and be joined by Japan as ninth team, which recently earned promotion. The tenth team will be determined next season.

– Similar like during the last Olympic year, the 2017/2018 season will not include a top-level Women’s World Championship due to the 2018 Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament while the other divisions will be played in 2017/2018. At all these tournaments the winning team will be promoted to the next level and no team will be relegated.

– These steps will create a ten-team top division for the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Finland while the other divisions will operate with six teams as usual and be aligned accordingly with teams being promoted in 2017 and 2018 while no teams will be relegated.

The 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will take place in Finland, which confirmed its readiness to host ten teams. The dates and cities will be announced later. The lower divisions of the Women’s World Championship will be played in the 2017/2018 season and the hosts will be determined during the Congress this week.

Why does USA continue to fail at the World Championship?

https://d13csqd2kn0ewr.cloudfront.net/uploads/image/file/245526/w768xh576_2017-05-18T164206Z_323854139_UP1ED5I1AE56T_RTRMADP_3_ICEHOCKEY-WORLD.jpg?ts=1495141106

By

The United States lost 2-0 in Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup to Finland, prolonging their gold-medal drought at the World Championship to a staggering 57 years. In fact, the Americans haven’t even made it to the gold-medal game since they won it in 1960.

Given the depth of players the nation possesses, this is quite embarrassing, to be frank.

Sure, Canada, Sweden, and Russia are all rich with talent, but countries such as the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, and Switzerland have all played in at least one gold-medal game as recently as 2010.

You could argue that hockey is the No. 1 sport in most of those countries and that USA is more concerned with their football, baseball, and basketball. However, USA has more than double the amount of hockey rinks (indoor and outdoor) in its country than Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Switzerland combined, according to the IIHF’s website.

Furthermore, USA had 266 players play in the NHL this season, second only to Canada’s 451. Sweden was third with 91, per quanthockey.com.

There have been many years where USA was missing almost all of its top players, but 2017 was not one of those years. The team featured firepower up front with Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, and Dylan Larkin, stability on the back end with Jacob Trouba, Noah Hanifin, and Brady Skjei, and a good veteran goaltender in Jimmy Howard, who was coming off his best NHL season.

To make matters worse, they lost to a Finnish team missing just about everyone. The only players on the Suomi to play at least 20 NHL games this year were Valtteri Filppula, Sebastian Aho, Mikko Rantanen, and Jesse Puljujarvi. They got shut out by some goaltender named Harri Sateri.

Prior to losing to the Finns, the Americans had dominated the tournament. They were 6-0-0-1, scoring 31 goals and allowing just 14. They even beat both Russia and Sweden.

Perhaps the most logical theory as to why the States annually disappoint at this tournament is simple: the setting.

The worlds have been held in Europe every year since 1962, with the lone exception being 2008 when the tournament took place in Quebec City and Halifax.

Playing in front of a hostile European crowd can be awfully intimidating. They chant through the entire game as if it were a soccer match. American fans are outnumbered by fans of their European opposition regardless of which overseas nation is hosting the tournament.

Maybe even more importantly, American players aren’t accustomed to the larger international ice surface. Obviously, many European teams are made up of NHLers, but their supporting cast of players usually play overseas during the regular season and are therefore used to the big ice.

The European setting certainly plays a part, but perhaps USA’s failures at the worlds stem from a deeper meaning.

Realistically, how many American kids grow up dreaming of starring in the World Championship? Probably none, because they all grow up dreaming of hoisting the Stanley Cup, or winning Olympic gold.

This is not to say that the Americans don’t want to win and make their country proud. They certainly do.

However, when it comes down to a puck battle, or putting your body on the line, 33-year-old Topi Jaakola of Finland, who has played his entire career overseas, might just have that much more of a will to win than a young American player with a bright future in the NHL. For Jaakola, this is his Stanley Cup.

Day Thirteen At The Worlds

http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/SE/20170518/AP/305189844/EP/1/4/EP-305189844.jpg&MaxW=315

By Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — The United States’ ice hockey world championship campaign ended Thursday with a 2-0 quarterfinal defeat against Finland, after a record-equaling run of six straight victories for Jeff Blashill’s young roster.

Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Kemppainen scored as Finland booked its place in Saturday’s semifinals.

“It goes without saying we’re bitterly disappointed,” said Blashill, whose team looked to be improving with each game following its surprise 2-1 defeat to co-host Germany in the opener.

“We believed that this team had the ability to win the tournament. They are a great group who cared, were selfless and played some great hockey. Unfortunately, Finland was better than we were today and I congratulate them.”

Canada edged Germany 2-1 to set up a semifinal showdown with Russia, which defeated the Czech Republic 3-0 with goals from Dmitri Orlov, Nikita Kucherov and Artemi Panarin.

Goals from Nicklas Backstrom, William Nylander and Alexander Edler gave Sweden a 3-1 win over Switzerland in Paris, setting up a meeting with Finland in the final four. Gaetan Haas had equalized for the Swiss.

Both semifinals take place in Cologne.

Canada outshot Germany by 50 shots to 20, but had to endure a nervy ending after Germany captain Christian Ehrhoff sent Yannic Seidenberg through to score short-handed with less than seven minutes remaining.

Ryan O’Reilly set up Mark Scheifele to score on the power play toward the end of the first period for Canada, which was thwarted by an an inspired performance from Germany goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

Canada had 20 shots to Germany’s one in the second period alone.

Jeff Skinner finally made the breakthrough with Mike Matheson and Scheifele involved before the end of the period.

Seidenberg pulled one back but Germany couldn’t force an equalizer.

Earlier, strong defense and a shut-out from Harri Sateri on his fourth start helped Finland surprise the U.S., which had beaten Russia to finish top of its group. The Americans outshot Finland by 26 to 20.

“We didn’t give up any goals so we feel we performed our game plan pretty well,” defenseman Juuso Hietanen said. “We didn’t give them any easy chances and we scored an important goal on the power play. Our defense was pretty good all night.”

The Finns had the best chance early on when goaltender Jimmy Howard denied Juhamatti Aaltonen on a breakaway.

Anders Lee was penalized for tripping at the start of the second period and Rantanen scored on the power play at the third attempt after Howard twice saved.

Howard, who finished with 18 saves compared to Sateri’s 26, produced another good block to deny Valtteri Filppula, but he was beaten by Kemppainen midway through the final period. Kemppainen swept the puck home after great interplay with Aaltonen.

Howard, who was the U.S. player of the game, said the Finns “made it tough on us all night long.”

Kevin Hayes, who was penalized for playing without a helmet at the start of the period, was then penalized again for slashing. Hopes of equalizing took another hit when Jack Eichel was sent to the box for high-sticking with less than two minutes remaining.

Lee, Johnny Gaudreau and Dylan Larkin were named the Americans’ best three players of the tournament.

In Paris, Sergei Plotnikov set up Orlov and Kucherov swept in the Russians’ second on a power play shortly afterward in the first period.

Overall, despite bossing possession, the Czechs were closed down well by the Russians, restricting their ability to get into good shooting positions. Russia wasn’t dominating but it did look comfortable. Czech frustration was summed up when forward David Pastrnak‘s stick broke in half on a slap shot.

“We played quite well in the beginning of the game, in the first period, but we weren’t scoring,” Czech coach Josef Jandac said. “When Russia scored they controlled the game for the next two periods.”

Panarin, the tournament’s scoring leader, wrapped it up off Kucherov’s cross-ice pass in the third. It was his fourth goal of the tournament and 14th point overall.

“It was a tough game. We didn’t start very well and the Czechs could have scored,” Russia coach Oleg Znarok said. “The ice isn’t very good here. We can say it’s very bad so it was difficult to play well.”

Promoting youth may be Hockey Canada’s greatest folly

hockey canada

By Kaitlin Cimini – Fanrag Sports Network

Shortly after USA Hockey announced the newest women’s ice hockey national team roster, Hockey Canada made public its short list of national team players in preparation for the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games. Its national team, like the U.S. team, will begin training together in September.

Canada’s women’s ice hockey team has earned a spot on the podium every Olympic Games, the vast majority of those medals being gold. In the past four years since the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Canada has used competitions such as the IIHF Women’s World Championships or the Four Nations Cup to test various combinations of players, systems, and plans of attack.

While those particular iterations of Team Canada have rarely taken home the gold, Canada seems to have hit upon a system that allows it to test its players in a high-pressure environment without its Olympic reputation on the line.

The roster Canada displayed at the most recent Women’s Worlds struggled to come together as a coherent team. Canada simply didn’t click for much of the tournament, dropping games to the U.S. and Finland, both times letting its opponent set the tone of the game. The Canadians constantly played catch-up.

“We’re not getting the bounces that we do, or we have,” forward Meghan Agosta told The Star after Team Canada lost to Team Finland. “It’s just been tough hockey. We’ve just got to figure it out, come back together as a team.

“This is a test. This is a test for Canada. I believe in the girls and I know we believe in each other. We have a lot of skill and a lot of talent on this team. I know we could definitely play better.”

Poulin said “we have to find a way” at least four times in less than two minutes, SportsNet’s Kristina Rutherford wrote. “I keep saying it,” she said, “but it’s true.”

“It’s not our game,” Poulin added.

The team bounced back in time to shut out Russia, but the damage was done: Team Canada had to fight to earn a way into the gold-medal game. With so many questions surrounding Canada’s discombobulated performance, eyes turned toward the roster, which proved to be disconcertingly young, built for speed and shooting but unable to consistently capitalize on the flaws in their opponents’ systems.

Clearly, the comparative youth of the roster contributed to Canada’s poor performance at Women’s Worlds, but how much responsibility does it bear for the outcome?

Canada may soon find out. While its pre-Olympic national team roster is not an exact replica of the team iced at Women’s Worlds, the similarities are striking. While Canada has added experience to its roster, it has also added even more youth, swapping out players in their early twenties for others, even incorporating some in their teens.

Defense

Erin Ambrose (23)
Renata Fast (22)
Laura Fortino (26)
Micah Hart (20)
Halli Krzyzaniak (22)
Brigitte Lacquette (24)
Jocelyne Larocque (28)
Meaghan Mikkelson (32)
Lauriane Rougeau (27)

Forwards

Meghan Agosta (30)
Bailey Bram (26)
Emily Clark (21)
Mélodie Daost (25)
Brianne Jenner (26)
Rebecca Johnston (27)
Sarah Nurse (22)
Amy Potomak (17)
Sarah Potomak (19)
Marie-Philip Poulin (26)
Jillian Saulnier (25)
Natalie Spooner (26)
Laura Stacey (23)
Blayre Turnbull (23)
Jennifer Wakefield (27)

Goaltenders

Ann-Renee Desbiens (23)
Genevieve Lacasse (28)
Shannon Szabados (30)

Nearly half of the players on this roster are 23 years of age or younger: 11 of 23. The Potomak sisters ring in at 17 and 19, respectively. The potential offensive output is tremendous, however, and may very well be what tipped the scales in their favor.

While the low median is certainly indicative of the development in the world of women’s hockey being driven largely by the NCAA and CIS systems, it still shows an extremely young roster, one without much experience at the Olympic level, ostensibly prioritizing speed and offensive output over wisdom.

Olympic gold medalist and Boston Blades captain Tara Watchorn, for example, was left off the short list for Team Canada despite her leadership skills, precise skating and large frame. While Watchorn has a number of pluses and is still one of the top 10 defenders from Canada, her game is defense-driven and her footspeed is not on the same level as those who made this roster.

Prioritizing speed and shooting over experience may come back to bite Canada, as it did at Women’s Worlds. Team Canada has a little over six months to get its team into Olympic shape… and prove that its youth-driven approach can work.

Day Twelve At The Worlds

http://media.zuza.com/b/2/b2e62f01-006a-4d0f-802f-7d1f0d79d545/mme110-516_2017_171501_Content.jpg

By The Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — The United States came back three times to hand Russia its first defeat 5-3 and top Group A with its sixth straight win at the ice hockey world championship on Tuesday.

Kevin Hayes scored two goals in his second game at the tournament, and Anders Lee earned the match-winner as the U.S. out shot Russia by 35 to 19.

“A great win. We grew as a team today,” forward Johnny Gaudreau said.

They head to the quarterfinals on Thursday, when the U.S. will play Finland, and Russia will meet the Czech Republic.

Two-time defending champion Canada will play Germany, and Sweden takes on Switzerland.

Group B leader Canada beat fourth-placed Finland 5-2, with center Mitch Marner scoring twice in Paris.

Co-host Germany wasted a 2-0 lead against Latvia before leveling right at the end to make it 3-3, forcing overtime and penalty shots in Cologne. The first two shots from each side were saved and, after Roberts Bukarts hit the post, Frederik Tiffels settled it for Germany.

The Canadians, Russians, and Americans have lost one game. Russia scored 35 goals, the Canadians 32, and the Americans 31.

Switzerland avoided Russia by defeating the Czech Republic 3-1 in Paris to clinch second spot in Group B.

Nick Bjugstad hit the post early on for the U.S. before Artyom Zub was penalized for high sticking, then Nikita Kucherov for slashing, but the Americans failed to make their pressure count.

Nikita Gusev scored on a breakaway with just the Russians’ second shot at 12:29.

With five penalties in the first period, Russian indiscipline was bailed out by their defence, while the Americans were grateful to goaltender Jimmy Howard for a good save on another Russian breakaway.

The U.S. had 16 shots compared to Russia’s three in the first period alone.

Kucherov was still off the ice when Hayes equalized at the start of the second on a power play, scoring from a narrow angle. It was Hayes’ first goal since joining the U.S. following the New York Rangers’ elimination from the NHL playoffs.

Russia captain Anton Belov scored minutes later after Sergei Plotnikov sent the puck back, but Dylan Larkin equalized on another Brock Nelson assist.

U.S. captain Connor Murphy was penalized for interference and Gusev claimed his second on the power play — on a counterattack when the understrength Americans were attacking — leading to an evident surge in Russian confidence.

But Hayes scored again to tie the game at 3 going into the third period.

Frayed tempers led to a punch-up in the third, before Yevgeni Kuznetsov was penalized for slashing.

This time, the U.S. capitalized. Jack Eichel sent a long pass to Gaudreau, who found Lee free to score from close range.

Another moment of indiscipline from Kuznetsov, this time for blatant interference, dented Russian hopes, though Howard had to make another big save to deny Artemi Panarin the equalizer on a breakaway.

Russia went for broke, but Nelson sealed it for the U.S. with an empty net goal with 22 seconds remaining.

After Marner’s early goal for Canada, center Jani Lajunen equalized for Finland within 18 seconds. But less than one minute later Marner set up Colton Parayko for another laser beam slap shot from the defender.

Centre Nate MacKinnon, Canada’s leading scorer with 12 points, set up Marner for 3-1 later in the first period.

Brayden Point got a fortuitous fourth after the puck came back off the boards and fell just in front of goal. But defenceman Atte Ohtamaa kept Finland in with an outside chance heading into the third period.

The suspense lasted precisely 34 seconds as Finland gave the puck away and centre Matt Duchene peeled away to score.

It was a nail-biter in Cologne, where Germany equalized with 33 seconds to go through centre Felix Schutz.

Germany broke through with two quick goals midway through the second period with left winger David Wolf netting and veteran defenceman Dennis Seidenberg scoring 27 seconds later.

But Latvia forward Gunars Skvorcovs replied late in the second period; Janis Sprukts equalized midway through the third, and center Andris Dzerins scored a power-play goal with four minutes left.

Earlier, Sweden defeated Slovakia 4-2 to finish third in Group A and Belarus defeated Norway 4-3 in Group B.

Older posts