Day: February 12, 2022

Danes surprise Swiss

Denmark’s Frans Nielsen and Switzerland’s Ramon Untersander reach for the puck.

By Andrew Podnieks –

Just a few hours after Alina Muller launched the Swiss women’s team into the semi-finals at Wukesong Sports Centre her brother Mirco and his teammates skated out onto the same sheet of ice in the hopes of duplicating the women’s efforts. Alas, they squandered a 1-0 lead and fell, 5-3.

Only twice before have the Swiss men and women won an Olympic game on the same day–February 20, 2010, and February 15, 2014.

The Danes finish the preliminary round robin with a 2-1 record while the Swiss fall to 0-3. The Swiss have now lost their last five games at the Olympics going back to 2018.

The teams have played six times in the World Championship since 2003, when the Danes returned to the top pool, and Switzerland had won every meeting. This was their first ever matchup at the Olympics.

The Danes were the first team to put the puck in the net in this one, but it was clear that Mikkel Aagaard tipped a point shot in with a very high stick. The game settled into a low-risk, low chance affair, neither team wanting to make that costly mistake which, between low-scoring teams, could be the difference.

Late in the period, though, that’s just what happened. Yannick Weber exploited a lapse in the Danish defence when he carried the puck around the net, and he saw Enzo Corvi alone in front. Corvi had time to take the pass, cradle the puck, and roof it over the glove of Sebastian Dahm without being touched. 

Soon after, the Danes had a great chance but couldn’t convert. This time it was Patrick Russell who spotted captain Peter Regin alone in front, but Regin couldn’t control the puck for a dangerous chance.

It was a different Danish team that came out to start the second. They got a power play only 39 seconds in, and seven seconds later converted. It all started with a faceoff win in the Swiss end, and then Frederik Storm made a nice pass in front to Regin who beat Reto Berra with a quick shot.

Just 21 seconds later, the Danes took the lead on a harmless play. Nicholas B. Jensen took a quick shot from the point that was tipped in front by Storm. The puck was going well wide, but it then hit the skate of defender Lukas Frick in front and in. The Danes had a glorious chance to score again midway through the period during a Danish power play. Bodker and Frans Nielsen found themselves on an unlikely two-on-the-goalie, but Bodker waited too late to make the pass and Nielsen didn’t get a good shot away. 

Nevertheless, Denmark went up 3-1 at 13:13 courtesy of Bodker. He came out from the corner unmarked, and his low shot through traffic beat Dahm between the pads. Yannick Weber hit the post late in the period off a great feed form Joel Vermin, but the puck stayed out.

Denmark added to its lead early in the third. Jensen tried to jam the puck in, but although Damn made the save he was down and out. Nikolai Meyer came in and picked up the garbage, banging it into the open net at 1:55 for a 4-1 lead.

Three minutes later, however, the Swiss got one back on the power play. Romain Loeffel fired a one-timer over Dahm’s shoulder off a nice set-up from Ramon Untersander. They dominated much of the period but had their momentum stopped after taking two quick penalties. The Danes had a five-on-three for 1:53 but coudn’t up their lead.

Coach Patrick Fischer gambled and pulled Berra with 3:45 to go, and the move paid off.Fabrice Herzog buried a one-timer at 17:28 to cut the lead to one, producing a wild finish. Storm got an empty netter with 58.4 seconds left.

Czechia edges OT thriller

By Andy Potts –

A power play goal from Libor Sulak gave Czechia a thrilling 6-5 victory – with the Czechs ending team ROC’s unbeaten start in overtime. The defending champion had penalty trouble throughout and was undone when Alexander Nikishin was called for slashing in the extras. Czechia was patient with the man advantage and Sulak, a defenceman who plays in the KHL with Admiral Vladivostok, thumped home the winner 31 seconds before the final hooter.

Group B had a reputation for low-scoring hockey – until today. A crazy contest at the National Indoor Stadium saw 10 goals from 10 different scorers in regulation as the ROC and Czechia went toe-to-toe in a pulsating battle. At one stage, the teams exchanged seven tallies in 10 minutes, 15 seconds of game time either side of the second intermission in a clash that truly set the men’s tournament alight.

Both teams could have won it inside 60 minutes, particularly in a breathless third period. That passage began with a crazy sequence of five goals in barely five minutes that saw Czechia open a two-goal cushion before ROC battled back to lead. Tomas Hyka became the 10th goalscorer on the night to tie it up and, ultimately, send us to overtime.

Team ROC got off to a great start in this game with a fifth-minute goal. Nikita Gusev’s stretch pass sent Vladimir Tkachyov down the left-hand channel and the Traktor Chelyabinsk forward flashed his shot over Simon Hrubec’s glove from the face-off dot. That was the first of three helpers for Gusev.

Given that Ivan Fedotov had yet to concede in the tournament, an early goal was the last thing the Czechs wanted to see. And the ROC net continued to enjoy great protection when the CSKA Moscow netminder pulled off a fantastic save to rob David Krejci of a certain score. The veteran Czech was about to celebrate a close-range finish, only for Fedotov to slide across, arm outstretched, and pluck the puck from the air.

But Fedotov’s unbeaten streak came to an end after 132 minutes when Czechia found a power play goal. Jan Kovar put up the screen and that prevented the goalie from getting a clear view of Tomas Kundratek’s point shot. The defenceman, who played in China with Kunlun Red Star, fired home on his return to Beijing.
In the latter half of the first period the Czechs got on top, with another power play chance for Kundratek. However, the ROC finished strongly and Anton Slepyshev tested Hrubec with the last meaningful opportunity of the session.

Hrubec was busy at the start of the second period, with an arm save to deny Mikhail Grigorenko representing the highlight of the early exchanges. And when ROC got a 5-on-3 power play, Alexei Zhamnov’s team regained the lead. The Czechs dug deep to try to kill the penalties, but once back to four men the defence was breached and Nikita Nesterov got his team’s first power play goal in these Games.

Late in the session, though, came a game-changing incident – and it was a flashpoint that had been coming. Earlier in the game, Dmitri Voronkov had enjoyed several robust exchanges with the likes of Roman Cervenka and Lukas Klok. This time, though, the Ak Bars Kazan youngster found himself in hot water after elbowing Lukas Sedlak in the head. The officials reviewed the penalty and after watching the video, the ROC forward was ejected from the game.

Boosted by that major, Czechia moved ahead on two goals in 35 seconds at the end of the second period. A minute into the power play, Krejci tied it up when he rifled home a one-timer off Cervenka’s feed. The experienced sniper was the free man in the left-hand circle and was not about to pass up that opportunity. Then, from a similar place on the ice, Michael Spacek fired Sulak’s pass beyond Fedotov to send the Czechs into the second intermission with a lead and more than two minutes of power play to come when play resumed.

Team ROC killed the remainder of that penalty, but once the teams were back at equal strength the Czechs increased the lead. Klok, who plays in Russia with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk of the KHL, grabbed his first goal of the Games with a vicious rising effort from the top of the left-hand circle.

Far from being the end of the story, that goal merely set up the next plot twist. Kirill Semyonov provided an instant response. The Avangard Omsk man, who had a brief spell with the Maple Leafs earlier this season, latched onto Plotnikov’s feed and spun to fire in a shot. Then Gritsyuk, the youngest forward on the ROC roster, picked the perfect time to get his first Olympic goal. Gusev managed to steer a bouncing puck between two Czech defencemen and the 20-year-old Avangard forward took the puck to the net and beat his clubmate Hrubec to tie the game at four.

The action kept coming, and the defending champion moved back in front when Andrei Chibisov’s deflected shot deceived Hrubec and made it 5-4. But the lead lasted a mere 35 seconds before Tomas Hyka fired the puck along the goal line and enjoyed the bounce as it squeezed through Fedotov’s pads to tie the game yet again.

The drama still wasn’t done. The Czechs were aggrieved when Vladimir Sobotka was called for slashing, but produced a strong penalty kill to keep the scores level. And when Sobotka got out of the box he was close to grabbing a goal of his own when he got on the end of an odd-man rush but fired wide of the target.

That was the last big chance in regulation as the teams reached the 60-minute mark deadlocked at 5-5 – but that Sulak power play goal made the difference.

China scores two historic goals in 3-2 defeat to Germany in Olympic men’s ice hockey

Fu Shuai (C) of China collides with Patrick Hager (R) of Germany during the ice hockey men’s preliminary round Group A match between China and Germany at National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 12, 2022.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese men’s ice hockey team scored two historic goals in its second game of the Beijing Winter Olympics, but still lost 3-2 to world No. 5 Germany here on Saturday.

The Germans scored two goals in the first period, and widened the lead to 3-0 at 24:41.

China’s forward Fu Shuai put the puck into the net in the last minute of the second period, the first ever goal for China’s men’s ice hockey team in the Olympic history, and then forward Wang Taile scored again in the 49th minute.

“I think it means a lot for China, the Chinese ice hockey team and the players,” head coach of China Ivano Zanatta said of the two goals.

“We had a lot of chances, and my boys played very hard,” he added.

“It’s pretty crazy, and the whole team’ efforts make it happen. It’s a huge honor to score and I’ll remember it for a long time. I think there are a lot of positives we take from tonight,” Fu said

Next games in Group A Germany 1-1  will face the Undefeated Americans while China 0-2 will take on Canada 1-1.

Finland defeat Japan 7-1, set up semi-final rematch with U.S

By Amy Tennery – KFGO

Finland rolled into the women’s ice hockey semi-final round in Beijing on Saturday, with a hat-trick from assistant captain Petra Nieminen helping them crush Japan 7-1.

Nieminen drew first blood, converting on a power play chance early in the first period, and Viivi Vainikka added to the lead minutes later, setting up a Monday rematch of their Pyeongchang semi with defending champions the United States.

“There was a moment that Japan was getting closer but thanks to the players, they turned it to our team and they played really well,” head coach Juuso Toivola told reporters after the game at Wukesong Sports Centre.

Japan got on the board with five minutes left in the first period, as Akane Shiga sent the puck between the legs of the Finnish goalie to cut the lead.

But the three-time bronze medallists refused to cede momentum, offering a furious rebuke in the second with assistant captain Michelle Karvinen scoring off the rebound and Nieminen sending another one in shortly after.

Nieminen, who helped Finland to the podium four years ago, needed only 18 seconds in the third frame to complete her trifecta, and returning Olympians Susanna Tapani and Sanni Hakala also added goals in the third.

The evening was a return to form for the Finnish, perennial contenders who nonetheless lost their first three preliminary games in Beijing – including a 5-2 defeat by the U.S. in their opener.

“It will be a big challenge for us. Obviously Team USA has done a really good tournament so far and we need to be really good in our zone, and when we get the puck we need to make right decisions on the ice,” captain Jenni Hiirikoski said of Monday’s semi-final.

U.S. Men’s Hockey Team Earns Impressive Win Over Canada

The Canadian men’s hockey team scored 84 seconds into Friday night’s showdown with the United States for a 1-0 advantage.

But they wouldn’t lead for much longer.

Team USA used three unanswered goals to earn a statement victory over medal-contender Canada, 4-2, in the preliminary round. It was the United States’ first Olympic win over Canada since the preliminary round of the 2010 Vancouver Games.

The North American rivals hadn’t met at an Olympics since Canada defeated the United States in the semifinals of the 2014 Sochi Games.

In the opening minutes of Friday’s game, Mat Robinson beat Team USA goaltender Strauss Mann with a shot from along the sideboards. However, that wouldn’t be a sign of things to come. 

The Americans answered right back just over a minute later with the first of three unanswered goals, as captain Andy Miele scored a backhanded equalizer.

The United States grabbed the lead for good inside the final 20 seconds of the first, with Ben Meyers lighting the lamp off of a nice feed from Sean Farrell.

Team USA found the back of the net again on its subsequent shot attempt, this time capitalizing on a mistake by the Canadians.

Canada goalie Edward Pasquale tried to play the puck behind his own net but lost it on a forecheck from Nathan Smith. Nick Shore picked up the loose puck behind Canada’s net and fed Brendan Brisson for an early second-period goal.

The U.S. had an opportunity to take a commanding lead when it went on a power play late in second, but it was Canada who would take back some momentum on Team USA’s man-advantage. Corban Knight deposited a shorthanded goal on an odd-man rush to draw the Canadians back within one.

Team USA didn’t compound the mistake though, keeping Canada at bay before netting an insurance goal. Early in the third period, Kenny Agostino powered a long-range shot past Pasquale to stretch the Americans’ lead back to two.

The United States closed out the win in impressive fashion, killing off two Canada power plays, which included some 5-on-3 time, in the final six-plus minutes. Mann made seven of his 35 saves on the consecutive power plays.

With the victory, the U.S. improved to 2-0 in the preliminary round. Meanwhile, Canada dropped to 1-1.

Team USA will conclude preliminary round play against Germany on Sunday at 8:10 a.m. ET.

Olympics-Ice hockey-Swiss overcome tough ROC quarter-final challenge to win 4-2

By Amy Tennery – WTVB

Switzerland beat the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 4-2 in a tense and closely-fought quarter-final in the Beijing Olympics women’s ice hockey tournament on Saturday.

Alina Muller scored twice in the final three minutes to take the Swiss into the semi-finals for the first time since 2014, when they won bronze, after the teams were deadlocked at 1-1 heading into the third period before trading goals.

“Everybody fought so hard and everybody wanted to help each other,” said Muller. “In the end it paid off.”

Switzerland will face Canada in the semis on Monday after the Canadians thrashed Sweden nL8N2UM615 11-0 on Friday.

Canada have won gold four times since the women’s tournament was introduced to the Olympic programme in 1998 but lost to arch rival United States in the gold-medal match at Pyeongchang 2018.

After a scoreless first period, Swiss forward Phoebe Staenz flipped a wrist shot past the Russian netminder for the opener.

However, ROC quickly replied as 20-year-old Anna Savonina hit the back bar with such force the puck ricocheted out before officials could be certain it was a goal.

A brief review confirmed the effort counted and the two teams rolled into the third period tied up.

Swiss Dominique Ruegg produced the go-ahead goal midway through the third, moments after a similar effort from ROC captain Anna Shokhina was overturned due to a missed stoppage.

With five minutes left, ROC forward Fanuza Kadirova equalised but Muller put the Swiss back in front 30 seconds later before sending the puck into an empty net for the fourth.

“The emotions are really high. It’s just so beautiful. That’s what we’ve worked for every day, years and years,” added Muller. “That’s just the moment you live for.”

Five members of the ROC team did not take part in the game, including their leading goalscorer at the tournament Polina Bolgareva, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week, according to Russian media.

The team has struggled with absences throughout the tournament, after six players were placed in isolation last week following positive COVID tests.

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