Day: February 8, 2022

Finns win, draw Japan in QF

By Andrew Podnieks –

Finland scored twice in the first period en route to an impressive 5-0 win over ROC tonight at the National Indoor Stadium. The game was the last for both teams in the preliminary round of Group A, and with the win Finland finishes in third place in the group. Suomi will now face Japan in the quarter-finals on Friday. 

Finland is a perfect 5-0 against ROC/OAR/Russia in Olympics women’s hockey history.

The win was the first of these Olympics for Finland and came after more ROC drama before the puck drop. ROC’s leading scorer, Polina Bolgareva, received a positive covid test and went to isolation instead of the arena with her teammates. She had three of the team’s six goals, and joined three other teammates in the press box, as it were, leaving coach Yevgeni Bobariko with only 18 skaters for the game. The Finns took the necessary precaution of playing with their N95 masks.

Both teams had good scoring chances early, but it was Finland that struck first. Elisa Holopainen walked in alone and fired a shot fof the post, and Polina Luchnikova took a beautiful stretch pass from captain Anna Shokhina but fired her shot right into the logo of Anni Keisala.

On the opening goal, Tanja Niskanen drove down the left side and fed Sanni Rantala with a nice pass in the slot, and Rantala made no mistake with her shot, firing it under the glove of Maria Sorokina at 9:06. 

Late in the period the Finns earned the game’s first power play thanks to a flash of blazing speed by Michelle Karvinen. She took a pass at the ROC blue line and tore in on goal, only to be tripped up by Angelina Goncharenko. Soon after, a scrum in front of the ROC goal produced offsetting minors, and Finland doubled their lead on the ensuing four-on-three. 

Jenni Hiirikoski set up Petra Nieminen in the slot, but Nieminen fanned on her shot. The puck dribbled to Karvinen on the doorstep, and she lifted the puck in at 18:17 to make it a 2-0 game.

Finland blew the game open in the second with the power play. Sorokina made two great stops early, denying Petra Nieminen and Karvinen from in close, but ay 7:09 the Finns increased their lead to 3-0. Sanni Vanhanen drove through the slot with the puck and dished to her left to Jenniina Nylund. Her shot went off the stick of Sorokina and between her pads.

Three and a half minutes later, they made it 4-0 on a power play. Minnamari Tuominen’s point shot was gloved by ROC defender Yelena Provorova and landed in behind Sorokina. The goal went to a lengthy video review to see if a high stick made contact, but the goal on the ice stood. Oddly, Bobariko then issued a coach’s challenge, which didn’t change the call, and his team was short-handed once again. While this was going on, he also changed goalies, pulling Sorokina in favour of Valeria Merkusheva, who was seeing her first action in Beijing.

Finland pounced on the ensuing power play. Hiirikoski’s point shot was tipped in front by Tapani and found the back of the net at 11:06, the first shot Merkusheva faced. Just like that it was a 5-0 game that was now out of reach.

Quarter-Finals 11/12 February

  • Canada vs. Sweden
  • USA vs. Czechia
  • Finland vs. Japan
  • ROC vs. Switzerland

Swedes advance after edging past Denmark

By Andy Potts –

Sweden secured its quarter-final spot – and a match-up with Canada in the last eight – thanks to a hard-fought victory over Denmark in the final game in Group B. The Swedes were on the brink of elimination from the tournament after dropping their first two games, but back-to-back wins over China and the Danes puts the Damkronorna into the knock-out phase.

It was a Scandinavian showdown to determine third place in Group B. Any kind of win would be good enough for Sweden, while Denmark needed to prevail inside 60 minutes to prolong its first appearance at the Games. China still had an interest; if Denmark won in overtime, the Dragons would cling on to third.

Sweden belatedly revived its Olympic campaign with victory over the host nation yesterday and looked to build on that here. And the bare stats from the first period might suggest that the Damkronorna did exactly that. After just three minutes, the Swedes got in front when Denmark coughed up the puck in its own zone and Emma Nordin pounced for her first goal of the tournament.

However, it was hardly a dominant start from the team in yellow. Denmark had three power plays in the first 10 minutes and carved out a big chance on the first of them when Michelle Weis forced Emma Soderberg into an important save to keep the scoreboard blank. Sweden, though, came into the game with a perfect record on the penalty kill and again kept things tight. Denmark struggled to make a big impression, but there was one  opportunity when Josefine Jakobsen’s shot got away from Soderberg, only for Josefine Persson’s attempt to squirt wide on the follow up.

Late in the opening frame, Sweden came close to increasing its lead when captain Michelle Lowenhielm stormed out of the corner and had Cassandra Repstock-Romme at full stretch to make a pad save before dinging the rebound against the post. But Denmark finished strongly, with two good chances for Persson.

The second period remained highly watchable, with both teams having presentable chances. Denmark missed a chance to tie it up when Silke Glud struggled to control a bouncing puck and flashed a shot over an open net. At the other end, Nordin was denied her second of the night in a one-on-one.

The tying goal arrived in the 35th minute thanks to good work from Lilli Friis-Hansen behind the net. She got the puck out to Jakobsen who fired a diagonal shot that Julie Oksbjerg steered home at the back door. That goal was greeted with delight not just by Denmark, but also by the Chinese fans in the building, hoping for a Danish overtime success.

It wasn’t long before Sweden regained its lead, though. A power play chance was converted in just eight seconds as the Swedes won the face-off and moved the puck nimbly around the zone for Lisa Johansson to fire home an emphatic point shot as Felizia Wikner-Zienkiewicz screened Repstock-Romme.

Sweden looked to extend its advantage at the start of the third. A neatly-worked break by Lowenheilm and Lina Ljungblom almost picked its way through the Danish defence, then Josefin Bouveng saw the ice open up in front of her but her shot was gobbled up by Repstock-Romme’s glove.

However, it remained a one-goal game until the bitter end, with Denmark pulling its keeper with more than three minutes on the clock. The first attempt to conjure an extra skater was frustrated by a linesman wrongly calling too many players, but later the Danes were able to play 6-on-4 after Ebba Berglund was cited for an illegal hit. An interference call on Weis eased some of the pressure on Sweden but, for the second game in a row Soderberg faced a frantic finish before Berglund put the puck in the empty net to seal the Swedish win.

Japan’s women edge Czechs to top ice hockey Group B

Japan’s Hanae Kubo (21) scores in a penalty-shot shootout against the Czech Republic in the preliminary round of the women’s ice hockey at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Source: Kyodo News

Japan progressed to the women’s ice hockey quarterfinals as Group B winner on Tuesday at the Beijing Olympics, beating the Czech Republic 3-2 after a penalty-shot shootout.

Haruka Toko scored both goals for Japan during power plays in regular time but the Czechs twice tied it at Wukesong Sports Centre. Both teams were already through but desperate for a win, with a more favorable draw in the last eight going to the group winner.

“I’m really happy as topping the group was our first target,” said Toko, whose goals were both assisted by her older sister Ayaka. “I felt we had to top the group to get a medal. I feel we took a step closer to it.”

“We will definitely be the underdog so we’ll go into the game with the mentality to challenge our opponents and get the win at any cost to progress.”

Japan struck early after the Czechs had Katerina Mrazova penalized for interference. The opener came just four minutes in, Toko’s smacking the rebound past keeper Klara Peslarova into the top right corner after her first shot was blocked.

Japan survived two power plays from their European rivals on either side of the first break but the game was level seven minutes into the second period, Tereza Vanisova picking up a loose puck in the Japanese half before Denisa Krizova just barely squeezed in a close-range shot off the desperate keeper Nana Fujimoto.

Japan struggled to get shots until another power play, 13 minutes into the second period, when Toko flashed her shot just wide.

Two Czech penalties gave Japan a five-on-three advantage with 55 seconds left in the period. Japan capitalized seconds into the third period, with Toko getting her second.

With just over 20 seconds remaining for the two-player advantage, Japan pinned their opponents back and Toko picked up the rebound to score after her initial shot hit the left post.

Japan’s pressure high up the rink left Suzuka Taka with a huge chance but her shot was blocked, and the Czechs tied again six minutes into the final period as Natalie Mlynkova’s clever long-range went in past Fujimoto, who was screened.

Vanisova had the chance to turn the game around after a misplaced pass from Japan allowed her a break-away, but Fujimoto denied her shot superbly, and her right leg denied Vanisova again in the final action of overtime to force the shootout.

Japan’s second penalty-taker, Hanae Kubo had the puck, struck Peslarova’s skates but somehow trickled across the line, while Fujimoto thwarting all five Czech attempts to secure the win.

“For us as a team, it’s only one stage along our journey,” said Ayaka Toko. “We’ve been aiming for a medal these past four years and we’re only at a start. We won’t want to say ‘we’re close,’ we want something tangible.”

Canada lay down Olympic marker with 4-2 win over reigning champs USA


Canada have defeated the United States 4-2 in their women’s ice hockey final group stage encounter on Tuesday 8 February at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

Deadlocked until the 14th minute, Canada’s Brianne Jenner broke the ice with assists by Sarah Fillier, and Marie-Philip Poulin.

The U.S. then scored twice as the game sparked into life in the second period.

Dani Cameranesi and Alex Carpenter gave the reigning champs a 2-1 lead, Amanda Kessel getting an assist for Carpenter to keep her point-a-game record alive.

But the lead wouldn’t last long as Brianne Jenner got her second of the game and fifth goal in Beijing just thirty seconds later.

Jamie Lee Rattray chipped in to put Canada a goal up 3-2.

Then there was a flashback for Marie-Philip Poulin as she was impeded on a breakaway, Cayla Barnes called for slashing, and ‘Captain Clutch’ had a penalty shot.

Against the goalie that saved her crucial shootout effort in the final at the PyeongChang 2018 Games four years ago when the U.S. took a 3-2 win.

This time Poulin made no mistake and Canada stepped off the ice with a 4-2 win and a huge boost on their quest to retake that Olympic gold.

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