Month: November 2018 (Page 1 of 2)

India’s national women’s hockey team comes to Airdrie

India’s national women’s hockey concluded its first ever trip to Canada

By Scott StrasserAirdrie City View

India’s national women’s hockey concluded its first ever trip to Canada with two exhibition games in Airdrie. The team defeated the AMHA bantam Rockies team 5-1 and lost to the Rockies midget team 3-1.

In a historic first trip to Canada, India’s national women’s hockey team spent a few days in Airdrie Nov. 19 and 20, when the team played a pair of exhibition games at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.

The team – comprised of players from the remote region of Ladakh, at the base of the Himalayas – was in Canada for the Hayley Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival. Known as Wickfest, the annual tournament and coaching seminar brings together women’s hockey teams from around the world for games, player development sessions and coaching clinics.

After the players enjoyed stops in Vancouver and Calgary, their trip to Canada concluded with further coaching at training sessions and the two exhibition games in Airdrie.

According to Airdrie Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) Director of Hockey Operations Darrin Harrold, the relationship with the Indian team started in January 2016, while he was working for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). He said he met the Indian players – some of whom were still very new to the sport, at the time – at an IIHF coaching clinic in Ladakh.

Fast forward two years, Harrold said, and he made a second trip to Ladakh, this time with Wickenheiser – the retired Team Canada captain and four-time Olympic gold-medal winner.

“The whole idea was to go there first and then bring the national team to Wickfest,” Harrold said. “Because I’d gone on the trip, they wanted to come to Airdrie and see what Airdrie is like.

“It’s cool to see it come full-circle. I went to their neck of the woods, and now they’re here in ours.”

While India has had a men’s national hockey team since 1989, the women’s team formed just two years ago, according to Harrold. Many of the players learned to skate and play with hand-me-down gear.

Though much of India’s climate is generally warm, winter temperatures in Ladakh drop enough to freeze the ponds, which is where the players got their start.

Diskit Angmo, who plays left defence for Team India, said the trip to Canada was a whirlwind. Along with Wickfest, the tour included attending Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers practices, and meeting Wayne Gretzky.

“Being an ice-hockey player, it’s always a dream to come to Canada,” she said.

Along with meeting a hockey legend and watching NHL players practise, Angmo added the hospitality the Indian team experienced in Canada was another highlight of the trip.

“Back in India, it’s very difficult for us to grow this sport,” the 22-year-old said. “But here in Canada, we are getting so much love from the people here. They’re supporting us so much, and it’s been really great.

“We have never been loved so much in our own country, where this sport is not so supported. But here, people are loving us so much, encouraging us and they are getting inspired by us – that’s the main thing we should take back home.”

Mayor Peter Brown was a keen spectator at the two exhibition games India played in Airdrie, and performed the ceremonial puck drop at both. Team India overcame the AMHA Rockies female bantam team 5-1 in its first win on Canadian soil, before losing 3-1 to the Rockies midget team the following night.

“I think it’s wonderful, and they’re so respectful and so thrilled to be here,” Brown said.

“When you look at where they practised and learned to play hockey, and all of a sudden, they become the national team for India for the ladies – it’s really amazing.”

Macedonia Wins The Development Cup

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Development Cup 2018 in Fussen, Germany the Macedonian national ice hockey team became champs.
As an underdog at the start of the tournament, Macedonia playing in there first official international tournament, the Macedonians showed to be tough opponents  on the ice, finishing in first place after the preliminary round with three wins and no defeats.

The favorites Ireland were beaten in the first game with a 9: 6 victory.  Macedonia then played Andorra who were outclassed by a final score of 9: 4.
In the last game of the preliminary round  Macedonia played Portugal, who like Macedonia won all the games up to this point. So it was the decider game for first place in the preliminary round. In a thrilling and high-class match Macedonia prevailed 5: 4, and won the preliminary round.
After the preliminary round Macedonia went into the play-off semi-final as first placed played last place Andorra.  The Andorrans were much more tougher in the semi final, but Macedonia secured a 6: 3 victory and entry into the gold medal game.
Portugal who were bronze medalist in 2017 tournament and who clearly prevailed against Ireland in the semi final round took on the upstart Macedonians, but it was Macedonia who took the upper hand in the first period and never looked back defeating their opponents 12:3 and taking home the Gold.

World Juniors: Norway Junior Hockey News

By Kerry Jackson –

Norway doesn’t have a hockey tradition like its Arctic Circle neighbors Sweden and Finland. It’s still a step behind. But it continues to move up. For instance, its U20 men’s national junior team was promoted to Group A of Division I for the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championship.

The Norwegians have been there before. They were promoted in 2013 to the highest level, where they competed in the same division with Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, and Russia, only to be relegated after one year. Norway’s squad was also in Division I Group A in 2017, but was relegated to Group B after winning only once in five games.

There is no single area that Team Norway needs improve on to stay in Group A beyond 2019. It simply needs to compete at a higher level in all aspects of the game.

In winning the Group B gold in 2018, the Norwegians went undefeated, winning three times in regulation and twice in overtime. They scored 18 goals and allowed only five. There was really no flaw to isolate.

The goalies, for instance, could have hardly played any better. Jorgen Hanneborg recorded a 1.26 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in three games, while Jonas Wang Wikstol finished with a 0.50 GAA and .971 save percentage. In 11 games this season with the Lillehammer Ice Hockey Club in the GET-Liagen, Norway’s premier hockey league, Hanneborg has posted a 3.03 GAA and a .902 save percentage. Wikstol has played two games this year with the Stavanger Oilers of the GET-Liagen, where he has a 2.50 GAA and .889 save percentage.

Both are 1999s and should be minding the nets in the 2019 tournament next month.

If Team Norway keeps its goals-against this low, it won’t need to score much. But if offense is needed, Norway will require a performance like the one turned in by 1998 forward Jacob Lundell Noer in the 2018 WJC. He scored four goals and set up six, good for third overall, had a tournament-best +8, and was named his team’s top player.

After Noer, offensive output in the 2018 tournament dropped sharply. No one had more than five points. Forward Martin Ellingsen scored four times and recorded one assist while forward Christoffer Karlsen had a pair of goals and added three assists. Still, only eight players had more points than the pair of 1998s in the WJC.

Ellingsen has not played in North America, but Karlsen has — eight games in the USHL in 2016-17 split between the Tri-City Storm and Sioux Falls Stampede.

This year’s team offensive anchor just might be Morten Skirstad Hodt, a 1999 forward who has three goals and 16 assists in 14 games for Frisk Asker in Norway’s U21 league, and Frisk Asker teammate Sander Hurrod, a 2000 who also has 19 points (10 goals, nine assists).

Other possible offensive contributors include:

Filip Lalande, a 1999 who scored six goals and set up six in 14 games for Valerenga in Norway’s U21 league.

Samuel Solem, six goals, fours assists in 14 games in Sweden’s SuperElit U20 league.

And maybe 1999 defenseman Hakon Engh, who in a dozen games with Storhamar in Norway’s U21 league has three goals, six assists, and is a +15.

Team Norway will open the 2019 tournament against Belarus on Dec. 9.

KHL Players Shine at the CIBC Canada Russia Series

By Romon Solovyov –

For the first time after 2014, the Russians won the Russia Canada Series. This time around, the team led by Valeri Bragin won four matches of six, and the momentum is good in sight of the upcoming World Juniors in Vancouver, BC. KHL players had a crucial role in most of the games and throughout the whole series.

It has been a few years that Bragin’s team wouldn’t play so successfully at the Russia Canada Series, even more so considering that many projected leaders weren’t invited to the event. Players like Vitaly Kravtsov, Grigory Denisenko, and Nikolai Kovalenko instead competed at the U20 Four Nations tournament in the Czech Republic, where they finished second in the standings behind Team Finland.

As it was in most of the recent editions, KHL representatives had a significant role in the team. The team’s top scorer was HC Sochi’s Stepan Starkov. He had two goals and six points in as many games, including a key third-period goal in the last game in the series against the QMJHL Stars to send the game to the overtime, where Dmitri Zavgorodny won the match for Team Russia. It’s not surprising that Starkov was the most productive player in the team, considering that he is the player with the most KHL games in the roster. Starkov played on a line with Ufa’s Pavel Shen and Omsk’s Alexander Yaremchuk. Both players had their impact on the series, although Shen probably looked better thanks to his more significant experience: he already has 12 KHL and 5 VHL games under his belt, while Yaremchuk only has seven with Avangard with limited ice time.

Other forwards were less productive, but this doesn’t mean that they were less useful for the team. Lokomotiv’s Kirill Slepets was very active in most of the games and led Team Russia with 16 shots on goal. He found the net only twice, thus he will need to work on his finalization in sight of the WJC. However, he had an outstanding tournament and made a strong case for himself when it will be the moment to decide for the final roster in December.

With Denisenko – Kravtsov – Kovalenko, and Starkov – Shen – Yaremchuk, Bragin may have two ready troikas for Vancouver. However, other players made a good impression, while some of the Russian players in the CHL may complete the roster.

KHL Forwards on Team Russia: Stepan Starkov (HC Sochi), 6 games, 6 (2+4) points, +2; Pavel Shen (Salavat Yulaev), 6 games, 4 (3+1) points, +1; Ivan Muranov (HC Dynamo), 6 games, 3 (2+1) points, +3; Alexander Yaremchuk (Avangard), 6 games, 3 (1+2) points, +2; Kirill Slepets (Lokomotiv), 6 games, 2 (2+0) points, +1; Nikita Shashkov (Sibir), 5 games, 2 (1+1) points, +3; Bulat Shafigullin (Neftekhimik), 5 games, 1 (1+0) point, -1.

On defense, the team did a great job in containing the Canadian forwards and not giving them much space and dangerous powerplay opportunities. The biggest surprise and one of the best players overall were Metallurg’s Savely Olshansky, who scored the game-winning, overtime goal in the sixth game and finished the tournament as the team’s top scoring defenseman with five points and the second scorer overall. If Olshansky will go on with such a solid game expect Metallurg to call him up more often.

If Olshansky led all Team Russia with a plus-6 rating, the second-best defenseman was Evgeny Kalabushkin, with plus-5. The defenseman is part of the SKA’s system but is yet to debut in the KHL. CSKA’s Alexander Romanov was solid on the blueline, scored one goal and finished the tournament being plus-1.

KHL Defensemen on Team Russia: Savely Olshansky (Metallurg), 6 games, 5 (1+4) points, +6; Alexander Romanov (CSKA), 6 games, 1 (1+0) point, +1; Alexander Lyakhov (Salavat Yulaev), 3 games, 0 points, 0.

In goal, there has been another surprise. Pyotr Kochetkov, who already lined up for HC Sochi in the KHL, won all his three games and somewhat appeared more confident than his colleague Daniil Tarasov. The Ufa goalie won just one game. However, his performances can hardly be considered bad. At this point, it looks like Kochetkov is the prime candidate for being the number one goalie for Team Russia, but in a tournament like the WJC, anything can happen – especially if a goalie like Kirill Ustimenko will be added to the mix.

KHL Goalies on Team Russia: Pyotr Kochetkov (HC Sochi), 3 games, 3 wins, 97,8% saves percentage.

Russia forces overtime to capture series in Drummondville


The QMJHL was just 14 seconds away from heading to a series-deciding shootout for the second straight year but a perfectly executed offensive zone faceoff allowed Russia’s Dmitry Zavgorodniy (Rimouski Oceanic) to tie the score at two, securing Russia’s fourth-ever CIBC Canada Russia Series victory.

Blueliner Saveliy Olshansky became the first defenceman to ever record five points in the annual event, hammering home a one-timer for the overtime winner 1:35 into the extra frame to put an exclamation mark on a 3-2 victory while giving Russia an 11-7 series win in points.

Russia’s goaltending was up to the challenge once again as Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Daniil Tarasov took over in the crease to provide 34 saves as Team QMJHL fell short despite outshooting Russia 36-25.

Anaheim Ducks prospect Antoine Morand (Halifax Mooseheads) opened the scoring to bring the 2,719 at Centre Marcel Dionne to their feet, blazing down the left wing to lift a quick shot over the shoulder of Tarasov with assists from Rafael Harvey-Pinard (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) and Justin Barron (Halifax Mooseheads) at 8:42.

Tarasov would deny 2019 NHL Draft prospect Raphael Lavoie (Halifax Mooseheads) on a one-timer from the slot late in the first to keep his squad within one and resumed his fine play into the second as Team QMJHL outshot Russia 14-6 in the middle frame.

Both Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic) and Joseph Veleno (Drummondville Voltigeurs) had grade-A chances in the second, breaking in alone to be stopped by Tarasov as the game spilled into the third period with the ‘Q’ still holding a 1-0 lead.

Russia went to work shortly after the flood as Stepan Starkov notched his series-leading sixth point, finding the back of the net for the second time with help from Pavel Shen just 19 seconds into play.

Team QMJHL would respond at 8:40 though, with Drummondville teammates Veleno and Nicolas Beaudin working together to set up New York Islanders prospect Noah Dobson who gave the ‘Q’ a 2-1 lead.

Zavgorodniy’s tying goal came on a clean faceoff win by Artyom Galimov. The Calgary Flames prospect snapped a wrister over the shoulder of a screened Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville Voltigeurs). Zavgorodniy would join fellow QMJHL Russian teammate Alexander Khovanov with an assist on Olshansky’s overtime winner as Russia claimed its first series since 2014.

Russia went 1-for-6 on the power play while Team QMJHL was held to 0-for-3, marking the first time in event history that the CHL has gone an entire series without scoring on the man advantage. The three leagues went a collective 0-for-19 on the power play while scoring the lowest output by the CHL in event history, managing just nine goals over the six games.

The aforementioned Starkov led the series in scoring, registering points in five of his six games played for a total of two goals, four assists and six points. Boston Bruins prospect Pavel Shen led the event with three goals while Olshansky led blueliners with five points (1-4–5).

Russian netminders Tarasov (1-2, 2.33 GAA, .915 SV%) and Pyotr Kochetkov (3-0, 0.67 GAA, .978 SV%, 1 SO) were also instrumental in their team’s success.

For the CHL, four players led the way with two points each including Team QMJHL’s Harvey-Pinard (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies), Team OHL’s Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) and Team WHL’s Connor Dewar (Everett Silvertips).

The CHL wraps up the 16th edition of the CIBC Canada Russia Series with an overall record of 63-26-1-6 while Russia has played to an all-time mark of 33-60-0-3.

Latin American Ice Hockey has arrived!

By University of Miami Ice Hockey –SCHC

Juan Carlos Otero believes the future of ice hockey is South.

The general manager of the University of Miami’s ice hockey team since 2014, Otero is one of the founders of the Amerigol Miami International Hockey Association, which hopes to grow the grow the icy sport in Latin America by raising awareness through showcases and tournaments.

“In our own backyard, we have a lot of excellent talent in Latin America,” Otero said. “As the population of Latins grows in the United States, I think it’s important that the NHL looks at being more active in this region in developing talent. Fifteen years down the line, you’re going to want to have more “Hernandez,” Fernandez,” “Gomez” and “Lopez,” on the back of jerseys if you want to grow as a sport… I think it’s time to start planning those seeds in this market.”

A few of those seeds were planted this past weekend at the Panthers IceDen, where teams from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela competed in the inaugural LATAM Cup. Of those teams, three also compete as the national teams for their respective countries.

The first major tournament hosted by Amerigol, Otero is confident it won’t be the last.

“South Florida is the gateway to Latin America,” said Otero, whose family hails from Colombia. “We thought it would be a great fit to bring a tournament here… We have people out here supporting their country with their flags. We want them to fall in love with the game like I did.”

Prior to the tournament, players had a chance to meet several members of the Florida Panthers.

“The Panthers have done a great job,” Otero said. “Some of the players told the Argentinian team that they had watched them play in a roller hockey tournament. They were blown away by that. I’ve felt really welcomed, working with the Panthers IceDen… They’ve made this a lot easier for me.”

The LATAM Cup featured games consisted of two 25-minutes periods with an intermission in between each. All games were free and open to the public, which led to a lively atmosphere of cheering, chants and audible pride coming from the large crowd that filled the stands at the rink.

In the end, Colombia defeated Mexico B 12-3 to be crowned the tournament’s first champions.

“When Juan Carlos brought this idea to me, I’m like ‘Yeah, we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to host it here under the Florida Panthers IceDen, under this organization to really show the community here what there is to offer,'” said Keith Fine, the IceDen’s general manager. “Ice hockey is alive and well.

“If we can just get more kids out here to get excited about the sport and support their national teams, who knows? We’re really hoping we see a strong support from that Latin American community to come out here and watch their teams compete and battle. At the end of the day, hopefully they can sign up, too.”

Like Otero, Fine believes the Latin American community is an untapped market for hockey.

“This is just another avenue to reach that community,” he said.

Looking ahead, Otero said he hopes to grow the tournament from five to as many as 45 teams, as the opportunity to add women’s and youth divisions could potentially lead to rapid growth. In the immediate future, he said Jamaica, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Chile could join next year.

“We’re talking about 45 teams, possibly next year,” Otero said. “I’m not surprised. I really felt strongly about this. Because this is the first tournament, we really don’t have sponsorship. We have two companies, and one is my brothers. It’s been great. It’s been an effort. It’s an investment, but it’s something I feel strongly about.

“The challenge is really getting ice. That’s where I think [we need] help to put a rink in stable countries. Maybe one in Colombia, one in Brazil, and manage it and start developing the talent. There’s definitely interest there.”

As for next year’s LATAM Cup, Fine said the IceDen is looking forward to hosting again.

“Whatever we can do to help support it, we’re going to do it,” he said.

Opportunistic Russians make the most of their chances in Game 5 win


Sherbrooke, QC – For the first time in the 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series, Russia is in control.

Four QMJHL additions and a 33-save performance from Pyotr Kochetkov powered Russia to a 5-1 win in Sherbrooke, giving them their first series lead to this point.

San Jose Sharks prospect Ivan Chekhovich (Baie-Comeau Drakkar) earned Player of the Game honours for Russia with a goal and an assist while Pavel Koltygin (Drummondville Voltigeurs) and Alexander Khovanov (Moncton Wildcats) both had a pair of assists. Calgary Flames pick Dmitry Zavgorodniy (Rimouski Oceanic) rounded out Russia’s QMJHL quartet with a goal in the win as the opportunistic Russians struck for five goals on just 17 shots.

“The effort was there, but obviously it’s not the result that we wanted,” said Team QMJHL head coach Jim Hulton post-game. “I thought we had trouble getting some momentum. We gave up the early goal. I thought we started out and had some good legs and then we were chasing the game a little bit at 1-1. The turning point was that third goal. If we get out of the second period at 2-1 I think our legs and our energy are there but unfortunately they capitalized.

“They didn’t have a lot of chances but they’re a good team and they capitalized on the ones that they had.”

The line of Koltygin alongside Ivan Muranov and Nikita Shashkov worked wonders early, opening the scoring with Shashkov’s first of the event 3:03 into action.

After Team QMJHL captain Pierre-Olivier Joseph (Charlottetown Islanders) drew the score even on a wrister from the point, Russia re-established the lead with four minutes left in the frame as Muranov displayed some quick hands from in tight to beat Matthew Welsh (Charlottetown Islanders) to the backhand.

Team QMJHL outshot Russia 13-3 in the middle stanza, but solid netminding from Kochetkov paired with a late goal from Zavgorodniy from Khovanov and Chekhovich wiped out any momentum the QMJHL had gained.

Kirill Slepets and Chekovich scored within a minute of each other just beyond the midway point of the third to put Russia up 5-1 and that’s the way things would stay as Russia climbed into a 9-6 series lead in points headed into Thursday’s series finale in Drummondville.

Kochetkov becomes the third Russian goaltender in event history to earn three wins in a series as Russia has now outscored the CHL 14-7, holding the three leagues to a collective 0-for-16 mark on the power play.

The five goals are the most Russia has scored against the QMJHL in the event since 2012.

“They delivered exactly as advertised,” said Hulton of the Russian performance. “The one thing we talked a lot about is how active their defence are in defending. They do a really good job challenging one-on-one immediately and you have to play a chip-and-support game. I think we got caught a little bit by surprise in that our guys just aren’t used to seeing that.”

For the second straight year, Game 6 will decide the series.

Kochetkov perfect as Russia blanks Team OHL in Oshawa


Pyotr Kochetkov stopped all 23 shots he faced and Russia had goals from four different players, blanking the OHL for just the second time in event history in a 4-0 victory at the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa.

Alexander Romanov, Pavel Shen, Alexander Yaremchuk and Kirill Slepets provided Russian goals as they outshot the OHL 28-23, breaking a stretch of 14 straight games being outdone on the shot clock that spans back to 2011.

“It was a completely different game from start to finish,” said Team OHL assistant captain Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), contrasting Monday’s outcome to the Game 3 win in Sarnia. “They played us tight and kudos to them, they played a good game. We weren’t able to get enough pucks to the net, get quality scoring chances and we weren’t sharp.”

The series moves east to the QMJHL tied 6-6 in points for Games 5 and 6 with Russia carrying the momentum.

“The Russians have practiced and played four games now and they’re crisp and organized so it was tough tonight,” said Canadian National Junior Team head coach Tim Hunter (Moose Jaw Warriors) who has seen all four CIBC Canada Russia Series games to this point. “We didn’t see a lot of chemistry from the OHL guys tonight who just played a weekend of action and didn’t really get a chance to practice together this morning and that showed tonight.”

A second round pick of the Montreal Canadiens this past summer, Romanov put Russia on the board inside the opening minute of action, entering the OHL zone to send a wrister on goal that found it’s way past Hunter Jones (Peterborough Petes).

Jones would come through late in the frame however, turning away Russia’s Kirill Slepets on a breakaway chance in alone.

The Russians extended their lead before the horn as captain and Boston Bruins prospect Pavel Shen cleaned up garbage in the slot with 52 seconds remaining. Defenceman Saveliy Olshansky sent a puck goalward that caromed off an OHL body, inspiring a rebound off the pad of Jones as Shen was on the doorstep for his third of the series.

A back-and-forth second period saw the OHL send 10 shots the way of Kochetkov who was up to the task to keep the shutout intact. Jones also provided key saves to keep the OHL within two, kicking out the pad on Shen from close quarters inside the final minute of play.

After the OHL seemed to gain some traction in the second, Russia wrestled back control of the game in the third as Alexander Yaremchuk struck on the power play 7:06 into the period.

Kirill Slepets would finish-off a second effort after Jones turned away Artyom Galimov with a quality save, putting the Russians in full control up 4-0 with seven minutes left to play.

Russia’s Stepan Starkov stretched his point streak to four games with a pair of assists while Olshansky and Galimov joined him with a pair of helpers each.

Kochetkov’s shutout is Russia’s first against the OHL since 2014 when Igor Shestyorkin stopped all 35 shots he faced in a 4-0 victory in Peterborough.

The OHL wraps up its 2018 leg of the series with an all-time record of 25-6-1 as Jones made 24 saves in the loss.

For the second straight year the CIBC Canada Russia Series heads to the QMJHL tied at six points apiece.

Recap of European Tournaments

Mikhail Grigorenko was among the best scorers at the Karjala Tournament

By Andy Potts –

Russia Wins Karjala

The Euro Hockey Tour got underway in Finland with Russia winning the Karjala Tournament ahead of the host nation in Helsinki.

The decisive game came first: Russia played Finland on Thursday night and finished with a 3-0 victory. By the end of Sunday’s games, both teams were tied on six points, but the Russians took top spot thanks to that head-to-head triumph.

It was a success for an experimental Russian roster as head coach Ilya Vorobyov took the chance to explore the depth of talent pushing for a role with the national team as a new Olympic cycle gets underway. The team had an average age of just 24 and seven players got their first senior international call-ups.

“Overall, there were more positives than negatives,” reflected Vorobyov. “We won the cup and we took a look a several new players. But I don’t want to pick out individuals. We played a team game and I want to focus on the team.”

Among the new faces to make an impact, Andrei Kuzmenko scored twice in Russia’s 4-1 victory over Sweden on Saturday, while defenseman Alexei Vasilievski crowned his first call-up with a goal in Sunday’s 2-5 loss against the Czech Republic. “I could hardly believe it when I scored,” he told the Russian Hockey Federation website. “It was all down to my team-mates, who got us into a great position and I just needed to put my stick down and deflect the puck into the net. We had other chances but couldn’t take them [against the Czechs]. Overall, though, we won the tournament so the guys did well.”

Finland took second place thanks to a victory over neighbouring Sweden in Sunday’s concluding game. The goals came from new faces: Ville Leskinen marked a successful first call-up to the “Lions” before Teemu Eronen and Jani Hakapaa got their first senior international goals to leave head coach Jukka Jalonen happy with his week’s work.

“Everyone who came to the national team for the first time did really well,” Jalonen said. “Leskinen was effective and Arttu Ruotsalainen was good in every game. Juhani Tyrvainen fulfilled his role well.

“It’s a very good start for us and the players will only gain motivation when they see what they can achieve at this level,” the coach told

Sweden took third place thanks to its 3-2 victory over the Czechs on Thursday night.

Russia ‘B’ wins the Deutschland Cup

For the second year running, Russia’s so-called ‘Olimpiskaya Sbornaya’ won the Deutschland Cup. Under the guidance of head coach Oleg Bratash, Russia won the decisive match-up against Switzerland in Krefeld on Sunday.

The two youngest rosters at the event went into that showdown tied on five points after regulation-time victories over Slovakia and overtime successes against Germany. The Swiss looked strong in the early stages and led 2-1 at the first intermission. Christoph Bertschy’s goal made him the tournament’s leading scorer. However, his team was limited to three lines and finished with just five defenceman after a major penalty saw Fabian Heldner ejected from the game.

With four lines to draw on, Russia outlasted Switzerland. Artyom Zemchyonok tied it up in the middle frame before third-period goals from Roman Abrosimov and Dmitri Yudin sealed a 4-2 victory.

Bratash echoed Vorobyov’s views about the importance of teamwork. “We looked at the qualities of each player and assessed our work as a team,” he told the Russian Hockey Federation website. “We’ll pass all our conclusions to the coaching staff of the national team. I don’t want to single out individuals; we played as a team.”

Upcoming World Championship host Slovakia finished the tournament in third place after beating host Germany 2-0 in the last game, which was scoreless for 54 minutes. Andrej Kosaristan had a 34-save shutout in his international debut while Marcel Hascak and Radovan Pulis scored Slovakia’s late goals.

But for most German fans the result was secondary on a day when head coach Marco Sturm received an emotional send-off. During his three seasons he led Germany to Olympic silver and to two World Championship quarter-final appearances. Under his guidance the team peaked at seventh place in the IIHF World Ranking and currently stands eighth. On Monday the long-serving former NHLer will leave the country to become an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings. His successor will be found during the upcoming weeks.

Austria overcomes adversity in Gdansk

Poland hosted a four-team contest as part of the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge – and it proved to be a challenging weekend in Gdansk. For Austria, the eventual winner, the problems started when the team’s luggage went missing and did not arrive until Friday afternoon. By that time, Poland had already started its game against Denmark, only for a problem with the ice to halt the action after one period.

Equipped at last, Austria took to the ice against Norway in a game that was moved to Friday night but once again had to stop due to technical problems. On Saturday, at last, the teams could play their full games. The Austrians defeated Denmark in overtime and followed that up with a 2-0 success against Poland on Sunday to secure top spot. Goals in the second period from Kevin Macierzynski and Daniel Oberkofler – the latter marking his 100th game for the national team – won it for the Austrians, goalie David Madlener got the shutout.

Wins for Latvia, Kazakhstan

There were two other Euro Challenge events played over the weekend. In Minsk, Belarus looked to bounce back after relegation from the World Championship top division and showed some promise as it took second place in its tournament. Latvia got the win thanks to a shootout success in Sunday’s decisive game, but the host enjoyed victories over France (5-2) and Slovenia (4-1).

Latvia clinched the title thanks to Egils Kalns’ winner in the shootout. Earlier, the Baltic nation had taken a first-minute lead thanks to Edgars Kulda, but Vladimir Denisov got Belarus level late in the second period. The tournament was also the first for France following the retirement of long-serving head coach Dave Henderson. Under the guidance of Renaud Jacquin, Les Bleus took third place thanks to a shoot-out win over Slovenia.

In Hungary, meanwhile, Kazakhstan won all three of its games in a four-nation tournament. Victories over the host (3-1), Korea (5-3) and Italy (3-2) gave the Kazakhs top spot. Hungary and Italy finished with one win apiece. Hungary got second place thanks to the head-to-head win against Italy but was unable to play against Korea, which went home without a point, due to ice issues.

Baltic boost for Latvia’s club selection

Vilnius hosted the six-team Baltic Challenge Cup, with host nation Lithuania welcoming teams from Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Romania and Japan. The group phase saw Latvia’s B-team, a selection of players from the domestic league, defeat Estonia and Romania to progress to a gold-medal game against Japan. The Japanese edged through their group despite a shootout loss to Lithuania; a 5-1 win over Belarus B secured top spot.

The final saw Latvia win 3-0 thanks to a pair of second-period goals from Sandis Grinbergs and a shutout by Reinis Petkus.

During the event a Baltic Championship for clubs for the 2019/2020 season was announced. Beside the domestic leagues, top clubs from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will play during autumn and until December for the title.

U.S. takes down Canada for 4th straight Four Nations Cup title

The United States celebrate a goal against Canada during the first period of their 5-2 Four Nations Cup gold-medal game victory on Saturday

Donna Spencer · The Canadian Press

The U.S. women’s hockey team continued its international dominance, beating Canada 5-2 to take the Four Nations Cup on Saturday.

Holders of the world and Olympic titles, the American women reinforced their status as the No. 1 country in the world in women’s hockey by beating their archrivals on home ice at the SaskTel Centre.

“It’s great to be recognized as that,” U.S. forward Hilary Knight said. “We definitely put in the work.

“When you’re in Canada, there’s a lot more pressure.”

Americans continue recent dominance

Knight scored twice for the U.S. in claiming a fourth straight Four Nations gold.

The last time Canada beat the U.S. in a tournament final was the 2014 Four Nations in Kamloops, B.C.

“It’s disappointing. You never want to lose on home soil,” Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin said.

“We’re going to have a hard look in the mirror and really look at what we have to do to move forward and take more pride when we wear that jersey.”

Canada won the majority of women’s hockey finals between the two countries in the first decade of this century, but the pendulum has swung to the U.S. in the second.

The Americans edged Canada 3-2 in a shootout to win Olympic gold in February.

“Definitely we want to be able to beat them in those big games,” Canadian forward Natalie Spooner said.

“As athletes, that’s what we train for is those big moments and those are the ones we want to shine the brightest. It sucks, but I think we’ve got to learn from this.”

Turning point

Leading 2-1 after the first period, Knight and Brianna Decker scored in a 24-second span midway through the second.

Melissa Samoskevich and Kendall Coyne-Schofield also scored goals for the U.S.

Dani Cameranesi had a pair of assists.

U.S. coach Bob Corkum gave Alex Rigsby the nod in goal Saturday over Maddie Rooney, who backstopped the Americans in the Olympic final. Rigsby repelled 23-of-25 shots for the win.

Defenders Laura Fortino and Jaime Bourbonnais scored for Canada.

Starting goaltender Shannon Szabados was replaced by Emerance Maschmeyer early in the third period after giving up five goals on 23 shots. Maschmeyer had two saves in relief.

Canadians fail to finish on chances

The Canadians produced a better start Saturday than in a 2-1 loss to the U.S. in the preliminary round, but couldn’t finish the few quality scoring chances they generated.

The quickness and creativity of the U.S. attack was a handful for Canada’s defence in the second and third periods.

“We have to win a little bit differently than they do. Goals don’t come as easy for us as they do for them,” said Perry Pearn, who is coaching the Canadian women for the first time.

“Once you get behind 4-1 and you’ve been struggling to score goals, it’s a big mountain to climb.

“I didn’t think we gave up, but what happens is now you think you’ve got to make the perfect shot and you pass up the things you have to do to beat the U.S.

“You’ve got to take shots, create rebounds, beat them to loose pucks, create second and third chances and we didn’t do enough of that.”

The Americans carried a 10-7 and 21-17 edge in shots at period breaks.

Finland scored a trio of third-period goals to defeat Sweden 4-2 for the bronze medal earlier Saturday.

The 2019 women’s world hockey championships April 4-14 will be held in Espoo, Finland.

The U.S. women have won four straight world titles and seven of the last eight.

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