Day: February 17, 2018

Fil-Am teen is first import on PH nat’l women’s ice hockey team

Rosalyn de Castro is the youngest player on the team

By Cristina DC Pastor –

A teen from Rockaway Beach, Queens, is now the starting goalie for the Philippines Women’s National Ice Hockey team, which is working toward competing in the Winter Olympics 2022 and 2026.

Rosalyn de Castro, 15, is the first Filipino American and imported player to be on the team. She brought home the gold with her team last May from the Hong Kong Hockey 5s tourney, and was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. She is the youngest member of her team with everyone being at least at least four years older.

“It is a huge undertaking and an honor to be a Filipino American representing the Philippines and New York,” said Rosalyn in an email interview with The FilAm. “Fortunately, I have an extremely supportive team that has welcomed me with open arms, which has helped me adjust really well.”

A sophomore at Bridgeway Academy in Pennsylvania, Rosalyn is in the online school’s Elite Athlete program.

As a young girl, Rosalyn has shown how competitive she could be at hockey and that this talented player can accomplish more given the right training and environment. Five years ago, she led her hockey team to the championship of the Hudson Valley Hockey League. She was the captain — and goalie — of the all-boys NYC Skyliners.


The NYC Skyliners’ goalie is a girl!

In an essay she wrote when she was 10, Rosalyn expressed how she would like to be a professional athlete and hoped to be in the Olympics one day.

“Right now, I am the only girl on my hockey team, and I am a goalie,” she wrote. “I am at the rink almost every day working hard to get better — sometimes rising even as early as 5:30 in the morning. I am usually one of the only Filipino or Asian who plays hockey, and I’m a girl…It’s funny because when I am playing a game, no one on the other team notices. But after we change and they see me carrying my gear, I usually hear the other boys say, ‘Dad, Dad… Their goalie is a girl!!!’ It just makes me giggle but proud that I can do it.”

On March 1, 2018, Rosalyn will move to the Philippines to fulfill the residency requirements of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and Team Pilipinas. She will stay there for two years.

“I went to the Philippines in May of 2017 to train with the national team. I came back to the U.S. soon after to continue training,” she said.

Members of the Philippine Women’s Hockey team in Hong Kong

In 2016, Team Pilipinas was recognized by the IIHF, the governing body for Olympic Hockey, and is on track to participate in the Olympics of 2022 and 2026.

As Rosalyn begins her official training with the team in March, her presence becomes a historical milestone for the team. As a visible women’s goalie, her participation calls attention to the sport of hockey in the Philippines and how it has come a long way from recreational to competitive sport.

“Rosalyn is determined to do well,” said her mother, Janice, a pastry chef who runs her own bake shop called Jae NYC Eats in Chinatown.

Rosalyn is excited to return to Manila to continue with her training and to rekindle the friendships she’s made with Filipino kids.

“I’ve been able to make many friends from both the men’s and women’s national teams, along with their families,” she said.

For more on her story, please go to:

Russia Blanks Americans to Win Group B

By Steven Ellis –

Russia has finished Group B action with a big 4-0 victory over the United States, changing their focus to the quarter-finals later next week.

It didn’t even take half a period for the Russians to score the game’s first goal. At 7:21, Nikolai Prokhorkin made it 1-0 after a great tic-tac-toe passing play between Sergei Mozyakin and Alexander Barabonov landed on Prokhorkin’s stick, with #74 scoring his first Olympic goal to put Russia ahead in the highly-anticipated contest.

The Russians were showing why they were considered the top team in the tournament heading in with a great start to the second period. With his team dominating puck control, At 22:14, Prokhorkin got his second of the game after taking a nice pass from Sergei Shirokov in the neutral zone before sending a hard wrist shot over Ryan Zapolski’s glove and in to make it 2-0 for the team in red.

A goal with just 0.2 seconds left in the middle period proved to be a crushing blow to the United States. Sergei Andronov would do a great job along the boards, keeping the play alive despite having Americans all over him. He’d find Ilya Kovalchuk in the high slot, and the former NHL star did what he does best by sending a laser beam past Zapolski, giving Russia the three-goal advantage heading into the third period.

Things, unfortunately, didn’t start off much better in the second for the Americans. Not even 30 seconds into the period, two American defenders collided in the neutral zone, allowing Kovalchuk to skate in with the puck. Just like he did against Slovenia, Kovalchuk found the back of the net for the second to make it 4-0 Russia, a lead that took any potential momentum the Americans were looking to get out of the question.

With the win, Russia has taken first place in Group B, earning them a bye to the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Surprising Slovenians Finish Second in Group B With Win Over Slovakia

By Steven Ellis –

Slovenia, a team that won’t even be at the top World Championship tournament in May, has finished second in Group B action in the round robin at the 2018 Olympics after defeating Slovakia 3-2 on Saturday evening.

Despite no goals getting scored in the first period, Slovenia wasted little time finding the back of the net in the middle stanza. Exactly one minute into the period, Blaz Gregorc after sending home a blast from the point after taking a feed from Jan Mursak, making it 1-0 for Slovenia.

Slovenia was expected to be one of the weaker teams in the tournament, but after beating the United States on Wednesday, they knew anything was possible. Still, there likely weren’t many people who predicted that they would take a 2-0 lead over Slovakia early in the second, even though Slovenia beat the Slovaks for their first ever Olympic victory back in 2014. At 4:16 in the second, Anze Kuralt doubled Slovenia’s lead when he tipped in Mursak’s shot in front of the net, re-directing it past Branislav Konrad to edge Slovenia further ahead.

The Slovaks, however, wouldn’t leave the second period without a goal themselves. At 15:43 in the period, Milos Bubela tipped in a Peter Ceresnak shot on the power play, beating Gasper Kroselj with the best scoring chance of the period for Slovakia to make it 2-1 heading into the second intermission.

Slovakia would tie it up early in the third period to make things more interesting. This time, Marcel Hascak made it 2-2 after sending a pass from Dominik Granak past Kroselj, knotting the contest up at two goals each.

For the second time on Saturday, a game in South Korea would require a shootout. Slovenia’s Rok Ticar and Ziga Jeglic would score one goal each in the skills competition, lifting Slovenia to their second straight win against Slovakia and give them second place in Group B behind Russia in the process.

The Swiss overwhelm Korea

By Callum Ng

Switzerland was unfazed by a roaring pro-Korea crowd, smoothly emerging as 8-0 winners on Saturday at Gangneung Hockey Centre. The effort matched the Swiss women’s team, who won by the same score against the Koreans.

Jonas Hiller, rarely tested, made 25 saves for the shutout. Pius Suter stood out with three goals.

“We didn’t make too many mistakes and definitely were able to take advantage of our skill set and play most of the time in their zone,” said Hiller.

For a short time, it was possible to see how it could have been more positive for Korea. Not necessarily for them to win, but to compete again.

Starting goaltender Matt Dalton was Korea’s best player in their first game, a 2-1 loss to the Czechs, and early in the second Korean outing, with several difficult saves, he threatened to again stand and defy expectation.     

“I felt like the first period for sure I kept us in it and made some good saves,” said Dalton, “But these guys are good they just keep coming.”

The Swiss would eventually break through and score, Denis Hollenstein whacked in a rebound at 10:23 of the first period, a chance created by a speedy wraparound by Gaetan Haas.

The Swiss pressure then intensified, but only briefly. Tristan Scherwey took a tripping penalty at 14:19 which interrupted his team’s flow but the home country would not score.

Late in the first period a spree of heavy hits by Korean defenceman Bryan Young were appreciated by the home crowd and noted by the referees.

Young would take an interference penalty with 42 seconds left in the opening frame, but nothing would come of that, either.

Shots on goal at the end of the first 20 minutes were 15-7 in favour of Switzerland, and they held the 1-0 lead.

The Swiss took a 2-0 lead following a clear but then confused set of circumstances at 7:36 of the second period.

Dalton bobbled a Felicien du Bois shot and the puck rolled on its edge across the goal line.  

The Korean netminder desperately reached back with his blocker to obscure the puck, and the goal was waved off initially. But a video review overturned the call on the ice and doubled the Swiss lead.

That Swiss strike quieted the pro-Korea crowd.

Later in the second period, Pius Suter pushed the lead to 3-0 with a shifty play behind the net.

The Zurich Lion embarked on a wraparound but then curled back and stuffed the puck behind Dalton at 15:55.

It was 3-0 Switzerland after 40 minutes.

A triplet of early third period Swiss goals would pull the curtains tightly shut, with Thomas Rufenacht and Suter chasing Dalton to his team’s bench. The Korean starter allowed five goals on 27 shots.

Reto Schaeppi, Suter, and Enzo Corvi scored on Sungje Park in his short Olympic debut.

“When it’s 8-0, you can’t complain. It’s good for our confidence. Last game wasn’t that great, but tonight was,” said Suter, reflecting on a 5-1 opening loss to Canada.

“Now we have to keep going.”

On Sunday, the Swiss meet the Czechs and the Koreans will collide with Canada. 

Valila scores twice, Suomi to face U.S. in semis

By Lucas Aykroyd

Valila is the Jaromir Jagr of women’s hockey, the oldest player ever to score at the Olympics at age 44. With four goals in Korea and 12 in her Olympic career, the Jyvaskyla-born forward’s legend continues to grow.

Asked if she was having as much fun as in 1998, Valila said: “For sure I am. Maybe I am enjoying it even more!”

All the big guns were firing for Finnish coach Pasi Mustonen in this quarter-final romp. Susanna Tapani and Michelle Karvinen chipped in a goal and an assist apiece, and Petra Nieminen, Emma Nuutinen and Sanni Hakala added singles. Noora Tulus had two assists.

Finland will face a monster challenge against the Americans. The U.S., the four-time defending World Champion, won gold at the 1998 Olympics and has earned three silvers (2002, 2010, 2014) and one bronze (2006) since then. Finland has lost six straight Olympic games to the U.S., and has only one win and one tie in 17 tries at the Women’s Worlds.

“I definitely think we can win,” said Karvinen. “We improved a lot over the last couple of years, but even the last game. We just have to keep really disciplined, rely on our systems but also vary the play because we need to move the puck forward. We need to trust each other as a team and then we have a chance to win. I’m not buying this idea that Canada and the USA are already playing for gold. We are fighting to the end.”

Goalie Noora Raty, who has played every game for Finland, had a relatively easy evening. Her teammates outshot Sweden 31-21 and chased starter Sara Grahn from the Swedish cage in front of 3,803 spectators at the Kwandong Hockey Centre.

“I’m proud of how my team played in front of me and created offense,” said Raty. “I don’t know the last time we scored seven on the Swedish team. I’m really happy how we played the whole 60 minutes.”

It was the fifth meeting between the two Nordic rivals in Olympic history, and the most lopsided Finnish win since the very first encounter, 6-0 on 8 February, 1998 in Nagano. Finland’s record versus Sweden improved to three wins and two losses.

“It’s as big a rivalry for us as it is in the men’s,” said Nuutinen. “We play so many exhibition games over the season, and there’s always that little bit extra motivation when we play against Sweden.”

Emma Nordin and Rebecca Stenberg replied for Sweden. It was a disappointing outcome for the Swedes, who beat Japan 2-1 and Korea 8-0 before losing 2-1 to the Swiss in the preliminary round.

“We were down 3-0 after the first period,” said Nordin. “We let them come out. They did a good job. They came out very hard and pressed us down, but I think we should have been able to do a better job with the rebounds. They had a lot of speed to our net, and our goalies took the first puck, but we let them in too easily for the rebounds.”

The Suomi women are going for their third Olympic medal after bagging bronze in 1998 and 2010. They own the most bronze medals (12) in IIHF Women’s World Championship history. Finland came fifth at the 2014 Olympics, and this is a refreshing change.

“The disappointment was so big in Sochi, I have no words for that,” said Nuutinen. “This was a big win. We had the same game against Sweden in Sochi and we lost, so it feels good right now.”

Finland opened the scoring at 6:12. Captain Jenni Hiirikoski sent the puck up to a rushing Venla Hovi, who battled past Emmy Alasalmi and got it to Nieminen. The 18-year-old phenom deked out Grahn and slid home a backhander.

“We knew if we could get on the board first and then build the lead, we should be in pretty good shape,” said Raty.

At 11:32, it was 2-0. After the Swedes failed to clear the puck under pressure from Tapani and Karvinen, Isa Rahunen took a long shot that deflected in off Valila’s face mask. Valila is known as a heady player, but this was a bit unorthodox. Nonetheless, she was happy to take the goal, and laughed about it on the bench.

Tapani put Finland up 3-0 on the power play with 2:16 left in the first. Showing good patience, she accepted a cross-ice pass from Tulus, outwaited the outstretched stick of Swedish defender Johanna Fallman, and sent a wrister through Grahn’s pads.

“I guess the third goal was the toughest for us to take,” said Swedish captain Emilia Ramboldt. “We just couldn’t get back from that.”

After outshooting the Swedes 11-3 in the opening stanza, the Finns were full value for the lead.

Looking to change the momentum, Sweden replaced Grahn with Sarah Berglind to start the second period. It was a tough spot for the 22-year-old MODO Ornskoldsvik netminder, who had never played at a higher level than the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship before.

Karvinen made it 4-0 at 7:14, circling to the centre point for a slapper that beat Berglind low to the glove side. Swedish coach Leif Boork challenged it for goalie interference, but video review showed that Minnamari Tuominen did not touch Berglind, and Karvinen had her third goal of these Winter Games.

Nordin broke Raty’s shutout bid at 8:53, coming down left wing and squeezing a quick one under the Finnish goalie’s left pad from a bad angle.

The Finns had an answer just 36 seconds later. Karvinen cruised into the Swedish zone, took a pass from Tapani, and put one off the post, and Valila banged the rebound into the gaping cage.

“I am really enjoying playing with these girls,” said Valila. “They are so skillful. They are just amazing players.”

Sweden got a little life with 0:48 left in the middle frame when Nylen Persson hit Stenberg with a shorthanded breakaway pass and she whipped one over Raty’s glove to make it 5-2.

In the third period, Nuutinen ballooned Finland’s lead to 6-2 at 4:35. She got a pass from Tulus on the rush and then scored on her second attempt after Fallman blocked the first one.

After that, nothing would burst Finland’s balloon. Hakala, a 20-year-old Olympic rookie from Jyvaskyla who plays with Valila in Sweden’s HV71, celebrated her first goal at 17:47 to round out the scoring.

“Our teamwork was the best thing about today,” said Karvinen. “We really helped each other, we put each other in good spots and made it easy. Getting seven goals is never a bad thing, going into the semis.”

Sweden’s last Olympic women’s hockey medal was silver in Turin 2006. The Damkronorna fell 4-1 to Canada in the final after their stunning 3-2 semi-final win over the Americans, backstopped by Kim Martin as Maria Rooth got two goals in regulation time plus the shootout clincher.

The Swedes’ last Women’s Worlds medal was bronze in 2007 with a 1-0 win over Finland on Rooth’s second-period goal. And the drought will continue at least until the 2019 Women’s Worlds in Finland.

Czechs Lead Group A After 3-2 Shootout Victory Over Canada

By Steven Ellis –

The Czech Republic have taken over the lead in Group A at the 2018 Winter Olympics after defeating Canada 3-2 in the shootout on Saturday.

The Canadians didn’t need much time to score the game’s first goal. At 1:13 on the power play, Mason Raymond tipped in a shot in close off of a Linden Vey feed, beating Pavel Francouz to make it 1-0 off of the first good scoring chance.

But at 6:52, the Czechs tied it up. A poor defensive effort in front of Ben Scrivens, particularly by Chris Lee, allowed Dominik Kubalik to walk in and sneak a shot from a tough angle to knot the game up at one apiece.

Rene Bourque was a long shot for Team Canada heading into the 2017-18 season, but after four periods of play, he made his presence known. At 13:30 on the power play, Bourque picked up his own rebound after some good puck-movement around the Czech zone, resulting in Canada taking their lead back to make it 2-1.

The Czechs needed just 25 seconds in the second stanza to tie it up at two. Former Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Michal Jordan made it 2-2 after sneaking in after Michal Birner last touched the puck in a scramble, beating Scrivens with a high shot to knot the contest up again.

With no scoring in the third period, the Olympics would see the first shootout of the tournament. Wojtek Wolski would score for Canada but it would be back-to-back goals from Petr Koukal and Jan Kovar that would get the job done, giving the Czechs the shootout victory after a similar result against Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan.

Canada will complete their round robin action with a Sunday night meeting against the hosts from South Korea, a team they beat 3-2 at the Channel One Cup in December. The Czechs will also finish their action on Sunday, taking on Switzerland earlier in the day.


Anna Shokhina fires up OAR offense

By Andy

The Olympic Athletes of Russia finally found their scoring touch, putting six goals past the previously undefeated Swiss to advance to the semi-finals for the first time at an Olympic Games.

In an absorbing spectacle, decorated by classy goals from Anna Shokhina and Alina Muller, the OAR picked up a first win of the Games at just the right time, shooting down the 2014 bronze medallist 6-2 and keeping alive its dream of first-ever Olympic hardware.

The OAR came into the game on the back of three Group A losses with an aggregate score of 15-1. More worryingly, it took Alexei Chistyakov’s girls 230 minutes of game time to record their only goal in a toothless group stage performance.

Switzerland, by contrast, was flawless in Group B, securing top spot with a 2-1 success over Sweden after comfortable victories over Japan and Korea. And the language of the two teams was very different after their final group-stage outings. While the Swiss talked of momentum and confidence, the Russians pondered a misfiring forward line and looked to the QF with hope rather than expectation.

But all that was forgotten in the eighth minute when Shokhina gave the Olympic Athletes a shock lead. Switzerland was enjoying a five-on-three power play at the time, but Lara Stalder got ambushed on the red line and Shokhina was clean through on Florence Schelling’s net. After so many wasted Russian chances, this one was converted with finesse: skating across the face of goal to force Schelling into a move, Shokhina wrapped it up by going top shelf in a move with hints of Connor McDavid’s flair.

The Swiss hit back hard: Nadezhda Morozova made a point blank save when Evelina Raselli looked to redirect a Stalder feed; seconds later it took a blocker to deny a Stalder blast. The next victim was Lisa Ruedi, with the Swiss youngster denied her first Olympic goal by another fast-moving blocker.

Morozova kept her goal intact until the first intermission, but had no answer to the latest piece of Muller magic early in the second. The Swiss forward, so predatory in the group phase, began her latest masterclass behind her own net. An exchange of passes with Christine Meier got her halfway up the ice, and then things really started smoking. A surge of acceleration took her into OAR territory, great hands left Yekaterina Nikolayeva floundering on defence and a high backhand finish finally beat Morozova. Muller moved on to seven goals in Korea, just two behind the record of nine in any one Olympic women’s tournament. That record is jointly held by Meghan Agosta (Canada) and Stephanie Marty (Switzerland), who both hit a purple patch in 2010.

Now the Swiss were poised to take control of the game. Sara Benz shot a chance narrowly wide, Phoebe Staenz was denied by a well-timed poke check from Nina Pirogova, and the Russians were left relying on the counter-attack, where Valeria Pavlova tested Schelling. Finally, the pressure told – and Stalder made up for her first-period slip by shooting Switzerland in front. It was another high-quality finish, a wrist shot from between the hashmarks tucked tight inside the angle of post and bar to give Morozova no chance of reaching it.

That lead was short lived. Viktoria Kulishova tied it up barely two minutes later, converting the rebound after Yekaterina Smolina’s shot was padded away by Schelling. And the OAR went into the second intermission with the lead after a power play goal from Liana Ganeyeva. The defender’s point shot took a deflection off a Swiss stick and wrong-footed Schelling to make it 3-2.

Switzerland began the third period at a high tempo, but after Morozova denied Staenz from close range and Muller hit the post after intercepting a stray pass, it was OAR that extended its lead. Sabrina Zollinger’s wayward clearance went straight to Shokhina, who advanced on Schelling’s net with Yelena Dergachyova and released an astute feed to set up her unmarked team-mate for the goal.

The Swiss refused to give up – even when short-handed, Stalder and Muller found a way to carve through the Russian defence – but found Morozova in obdurate form. And when Shokhina converted the same power play seconds later, it was game over. The 20-year-old, a star on the Tornado roster that dominates Russia’s Women’s Hockey League, played an incisive pass to Dergachyova on the post and collected a threaded return feed to tap into net. Captain Olga Sosina completed the scoring with an empty-net goal.

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