Day: February 5, 2022

Knight, Hensley team up in leading US to 5-0 win over ROC

By John Wawrow – AP News

Goalie Nicole Hensley was fine with the United States having difficulty finding its offense through two periods before finally pulling away with a 5-0 win over the Russians on Saturday night.

So long as Hensley kept stopping every shot, the outcome wasn’t in jeopardy for the defending Olympic champions.

“They made it a really hard game, really frustrating for us,” said Hensley, who stopped 12 shots in her 2022 tournament debut at the Beijing Games.

“And I think for us, a little adversity is not a bad thing in a tournament like this to have to get through that,” she added. “If anything, it’s just going to bring us closer together.”

The U.S. (2-0) next plays Switzerland (0-2) on Sunday.

Hilary Knight had a goal and assist, with her no-look backhand pass through the crease setting up Savannah Harmon’s opening goal in the first period. Knight then scored in the second to give her team some breathing room, before the Americans broke things open with three goals in a five-minute span in the third.

Harmon had a goal and two assists, and Grace Zumwinkle, Jesse Compher and Alex Carpenter scored in a game played before a small but vocally pro-Russian crowd.

The U.S. outshot the Russians 62-12 but had difficulty finishing with top-line center Brianna Decker watching on crutches after breaking her ankle in a tournament-opening win over Finland.

Maria Sorokina was exceptional in stopping 37 of the first 39 shots she faced, and 38 overall before being pulled after Carpenter made it 5-0 with 11:16 remaining. Daria Gredzen mopped up by stopping 19 shots for the Russians, who fell to 1-1.

“The start was really good and I guess we were too long in our zone and our ‘D’ got tired. Our goalie got tired, but she played really good,” Russian forward Alexandra Vafina said. “We felt really good. But you know, it’s a game and we are humans and sometimes we make mistakes.”

The U.S. gained the edge during a two-minute span in the second period beginning with Hensley kicking out her left pad to stop Polina Luchnikova’s shot from the slot.

Knight and captain Kendall Coyne Schofield then took over at the other end by leaning on their puck-possession ability to wear down the Russians’ defense. That led to Knight tipping in Harmon’s shot from the blue line.

“Their goaltender played pretty well tonight. She was big for them, and we just had to find a way. It doesn’t always look pretty,” Knight said. “It’s great to kind of learn how to work our way through these different issues, whatever dilemma that may present during a game.”

Knight’s assist was her 13th in four Olympic appearances, moving her into second on the U.S. women’s career list, one ahead of Julie Chu. She also upped her career point total to 20, fourth on the U.S. list and two ahead of Cammi Granato.

The U.S. has yet to allow a goal in three Olympic meetings against a Russia-based team. Add in world championship matchups, and the U.S. extended its string to eight consecutive shutouts.

The last goal the U.S. allowed to a Russian team came in a 13-1 win at the 2015 world championships.

Decker was hurt while being tripped from behind in a 5-2 win Thursday. The three-time Olympian remains with the team, and tests showed no structural damage to her knee, which bent awkwardly as she went down.

Abby Roque took her spot on a line featuring wings Carpenter and Amanda Kessel. The Americans are considering flying in one of their final roster cuts.

Coach Joel Johnson said he’s still working through different line combinations to determine what chemistry works best in a tournament in which all five Group A teams advance to the quarterfinal round.

“There’s no replacing Brianna Decker with one individual player. But we can replace her and what she does well with a lot of different people. And so that’s what we’re going to try to do,” Johnson said.

The Russian team was greeted by cheers from the small crowd of spectators allowed to attend, while the fans were mostly silent when the Americans took the ice before the opening faceoff. One section just left of the U.S. bench featured fans with large Russian flags.

More AP Winter Olympics and

Vanisova vanquishes Sweden

By Any Potts –

Czechia’s Olympic debut just gets better and better. After an opening-day win over China, the Czech women followed up with victory over Sweden. Back-to-back successes put the tournament newcomer close to securing a quarter-final berth, suggesting that a new contender could be emerging in European women’s hockey.

Two goals from Tereza Vanisova, part of the significant Swedish-based party on the Czech roster, paced this victory. She opened the scoring late in the first period and got the killer marker to make it 3-1 with six minutes to play in the third.

Not that Vanisova is getting carried away with the Czech performances so far. Despite back-to-back wins, she still wants more from the offence.

“I think both [of my goals] were important,” she said. “It was a tough game and we need to score more goals. We had many chances, we are a real good offensive team, but we have to be better at this. We got so many chances and I believe we will get better with each game.”

Meanwhile, for Sweden it’s a very different story at Beijing 2022. For many years, the Damkronorna were tipped as the nation most likely to bridge the gap to the North American giants. Olympic silver in Torino in 2006 highlighted the country’s quality and, more recently, the Swedish U18s won World Championship silver ahead of Canada in 2018.

Since then, though, things have gone awry. Relegation from the top division of the World Championship in 2019 came as a shock – and also obliged Sweden to go through qualification for these Games. Now, on arrival in Beijing, the team has suffered back-to-back losses and is in danger of missing the knock-out stages for the first time.

“We didn’t perform the full 60 minutes,” admitted captain Michelle Lowenhielm. “We didn’t trust ourselves and believe in ourselves the full game. We cannot win games like that. The Czechs are a good team.”

Undaunted by Sweden’s big reputation, the Czechs set the tone in the first shift when Vanisova tested Emma Soderberg on a solo rush. Sweden’s goalie got her pad behind that one and was destined to deploy all of her arsenal to stem a rampant Czech offence in the opening stanza.

Within four minutes, the shot count read 6-0, and Soderberg was scrambling to make a stick save from Vendula Pribylova after padding away Daniela Pejsova’s wrister. A Czech power play pushed the shot count to 12-0, with the width of a post protecting Soderberg’s net after another Pribylova attempt deflected off Anna Kjellbin’s skate before bobbling to safety.

It took the Damkronorna until 11:34 to register a first shot at Klara Peslarova in the Czech net but that did little to halt the procession of chances at the other end. Dominika Laskova was the next to test Soderberg, snatching an interception, dangling her way to the top of the paint and scooping in a backhand effort that the goalie beat away. Sweden’s problems weren’t helped by an injury to defender Johanna Fallman, who needed treatment after a collision with Vanisova but late in the frame there was a first clear chance for Ulf Lundberg’s team when Sofie Lundin tested Peslarova on the short side.

Immediately after that, though, Czechia grabbed the goal it had threatened from the opening seconds. Vanisova, at the heart of so much of her team’s work in the first period, was the scorer. The 26-year-old, who plays her club hockey with Leksands in Sweden, jumped on a loose puck in her own zone and hared down the ice, holding off the attentions of Jessica Adolfsson to get to the doorstep and stuff the puck beyond Soderberg at last on 18:23.

It was a just reward for Czechia’s impressive start, but the goalscorer disagreed with suggestions that her team made it look easy.

“We knew it wouldn’t be easy and that’s been confirmed,” Vanisova said. “The China game was not easy and now against Sweden it was a quite difficult, tight game. 

“I’m glad that we battled through and won it. Now we have to prepare for the next games and improve on some little details.”

There was almost an immediate response when Lina Ljungblom dinged one off the post during a Swedish power play late just before the first intermission, but the Czechs took a fully deserved lead into the break.
The second period began with Sweden on the power play and that heralded an improved performance. The Czechs killed the penalty but there were encouraging signs when Felizia Wikner-Zienkiewicz’s work behind the net created dangerous opportunities for Josefin Bouveng and Emma Nordin.

However, a Swedish power play led to a second Czech goal when Klara Hymlarova snaffled a loose pass away from Maja Nylen-Persson on the blue line and won the foot-race with the young Swedish defender before going five-hole to beat Soderberg again.

“I knew I was going five-hole, I knew it immediately,” said Hymlarova of her goal.

Late in the middle stanza Sweden got on the scoreboard when Emma Muren redirected Linnea Johansson’s diagonal feed. Muren’s deft touch steered the puck through her own legs and between Peslarova’s pads to set up an intriguing third period.

“We turned it around but we turned it around too late,” Lowenhielm added. “The beginning wasn’t good enough. We got to come out flying, to come out with confidence and we didn’t do that. It’s just tough to do that against a good team like this.”

However, the Swedes were unable to grasp that lifeline. In a final stanza with relatively few clear-cut chances, the Czechs engineered the first big one midway through the play when Vanisova led a 3-on-1 rush. This time, though, she fluffed her lines, firing wildly over the top when her team-mates were better placed.

That might have been a reprieve for Sweden but instead Vanisova sealed the verdict in the 55th minute when she stripped Adolfsson of the puck and advanced to win another up-close duel with Soderberg to make it 3-1.

“That third goal was the most important,” Hymlarova added. “It was a one-goal game when we scored it and after that, well, we couldn’t chill but we knew that things were going well.”

Japan batter Denmark to stay unbeaten in women’s ice hockey

Rui Ukita (15) scores Japan’s third goal during the first period of their women’s ice hockey preliminary round group B match against Denmark at the Wukesong Sports Centre at the Beijing Winter Olympics

Source: Kyodo News

Japan hammered Denmark 6-2 on Saturday for its second straight win in the Beijing Olympics women’s ice hockey tournament, taking a huge step toward a first-ever quarterfinals berth.

Japan, ranked sixth in the world and appearing in their third straight games, finished clinically against the 11th-ranked Olympic debutant at Wukesong Sports Centre as they moved top of the five-nation Group B from which the top three teams will advance.

Two days after beating Sweden 3-1, Japan could have gone behind soon after the drop when Josefine Persson put the puck between a Japanese defender’s legs before her close-range shot was stopped by Japan goalkeeper Nana Fujimoto.

But Japan grew into the game with multiple attempts saved before Hikaru Yamashita finally broke the Danes’ resistance near the 11-minute mark, the 21-year-old streaking across goalie Cassandra Repstock-Romme on a breakout before calmly threading in her shot from close range.

The goal opened the floodgates as Haruka Toko doubled the lead two minutes later, breaking clear down the left and scoring through the five-hole.

Two days after scoring the winner against Sweden, Rui Ukita made it 3-0 a minute later as she also scored on a counter, crisply moving to her right in a one-on-one with Repstock-Romme to score. The goalie was pulled immediately after.

Ayaka Toko scored a superb fourth three minutes into the second period following a pass from her younger sister Haruka, finding the left top corner with a shot from distance to make it four.

Mia Bau got one back for Denmark 10 minutes into the second period with a shot from the left crossing the line at the near post, but Japan restored its four-goal cushion just before the second break with a well-controlled effort from Akane Shiga finding top right of the goal.

Haruna Yoneyama buried Japan’s sixth from a tight angle nine minutes into the final period and although Josefine Jakobsen squeezed in Denmark’s second moments before the final buzzer, the result was clear.

Canadian women’s hockey team keeps rolling with 11 goals in blowout of Finland

Myles Dichter – CBC Sports

 In her first Olympics, Canada’s Sarah Fillier is quickly proving she belongs.

The 21-year-old Georgetown, Ont., native scored twice, Sarah Nurse and Brianne Jenner each recorded hat tricks and the Canadian women’s hockey team stormed past Finland with an 11-1 victory on Saturday at the Wukesong Sports Centre in Beijing.

“It speaks to the depth on our team,” Fillier said. “We have a ton of skill and a ton of talent and we’re willing to score any way we can. … It’s really from everywhere on the ice and everyone on our team and it just speaks to our chemistry.”

Canada improved to 2-0 with the win, while Finland fell to 0-2.

For the second straight game, Fillier got the scoring started for the Canadians as part of a two-goal performance.

Just 61 seconds in, she picked the glove-side corner against Finnish goaltender Meeri Raisanen following a feed into the slot from linemate Natalie Spooner, who recorded four assists to reach nine total points through just two games. Fillier struck 64 seconds into Canada’s 12-1 win over Switzerland two days ago.

“I think when you score early it just deflates a team and when we just keep attacking it’s really hard to get one back on us and we can really play with them on their heels,” Fillier said.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin was held without a goal for the second straight game, but did add three helpers. She appeared impressed by Fillier’s fast start to these Olympics.

“To see her score that first goal, it just makes us smile. It’s amazing to see her grow and every game she’s stepping up,” Poulin said.

Nurse, of Burlington, Ont., doubled Canada’s lead later in the first period, capitalizing on a Finnish turnover and firing a slap shot into the back of the net.

Finland answered near the end of the frame when defender Minnamari Tuominen sent a wrist shot from the blue line past Canadian goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens.

But Fillier, Nurse and Jenner made sure it never got closer than that.

Fillier added her second of the game in the middle frame, taking a pass from defender Renata Fast and tapping a backhand over Raisanen’s shoulder with her back turned toward the net.

The 27-year-old Nurse quickly followed suit with her second, finding herself open in the slot and firing a wrister home to extend Canada’s lead to 4-1.

Jenner, 30, then put the game out of hand with two of her own. First, she snuck a shot just underneath Raisanen’s pads. Then, the Toronto native piled on wduring a seemingly innocuous play where her backhand bounced off a Finnish player and into the net.

She later wired a wrister past Finnish backup goalie Anni Keisala, who replaced Raisanen in the third period, to complete the hat trick.

Nurse also converted her hat trick in the third period after depositing a beautiful cross-crease feed from defender Erin Ambrose.

The offensive explosion may have lifted some weight off Nurse’s back after she was held to just two assists in her Olympic tournament debut four years ago.

“A bunch of us looked up at one point and we saw that we had 10 goals. We didn’t even realize we had that many because we’re so focused on that next shift and being impactful and generating offence,” Nurse said.

Raisanen made 28 saves through two periods, while Keisala added nine in the final frame.

Desbiens replied with 28 stops of her own for Canada.

Forward Jamie Lee Rattray also added the first goal of her Olympic career, while Laura Stacey put together her second consecutive two-goal game.

“It was a great team effort. Everyone’s just showing up shift after shift. We just keep putting it in and I think it’s a lot of pressure — we’re enjoying it, we just gotta keep going,” Poulin said

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