Category: Tournaments (Page 1 of 16)

“Women’s Crowns” win Scandinavian summit

Michelle Lowenhielm scored Sweden’s overtime-winning goal against Denmark

By Martim Merk – IIHF.com

With the Women’s Euro Hockey Tour cancelled during the International Break for national teams in November, a spontaneous tournament of the three Scandinavian countries had the most to offer for fans of women’s ice hockey at the end of last week.

Traditionally Finland, Germany, Russia and Sweden would have met in a four-team tournament last week or a Four Nations Cup be held with the North American teams and their top rivals from Europe. But 2020 is not a normal year and due to the global pandemic the teams decided not to meet for a tournament of that scale.

Many national team camps were therefore cancelled for men and women, senior and junior teams, while others held camps without games or tried to find alternatives in their neighbourhood. Born out of sheer necessity was a “Battle of Scandinavia” with the top Scandinavian countries facing each other.

This hasn’t happened often since Sweden used to play with the top nations. But since sensationally winning Olympic silver in 2006 with a semi-final win against the United States the team has developed from a medal contender to a team battling against relegation in the last few years. At the last Women’s Worlds in 2019 the impossible happened and Sweden’s “Women’s Crowns” (Damkronorna) were relegated from the top division – as first Swedish team in history and in any category.

With relegation the Swedish women’s team also lost its automatic entry at the next Olympics and has to go through a qualification tournament and due to the pandemic last spring it still has to wait for a chance to correct the mishap and earn promotion back to the top level.

At the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship the two relegated teams Sweden and France will be replaced by Hungary and Denmark. Therefore the three-nation tournament last week was a chance for Sweden (9th in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking) to prove on the ice whether they are still the number-one women’s ice hockey nation in Scandinavia in a rare clash against their western neighbours from Denmark (11th) and Norway (13th).

The first game held in Harnosand against Norway sent a clear message as six different players scored in a 6-0 win. Shots on goal favoured Sweden 40-9.

Denmark, the Swedes’ “replacement” at the next Women’s Worlds in Halifax, made it more difficult for the host country in front of 205 fans – almost a sell-out according to the attendance restrictions – in Sundsvall and were leading the game longer than their more famous, yellow-and-blue opponents despite being outshot 33-23.

At 15:18 Nicoline Jensen tied up a Swedish lead by Lina Ljungblom that had only lasted for 25 seconds.

The Danes also reacted fast after the first face-off of the middle frame. Josefine Persson gave the red-and-white team a lead after 24 seconds that stayed for most of the period. At 15:55 Josefin Bouveng tied it up on a 5-on-3 power play but less than two minutes later Persson scored again to give Sweden a 3-2 lead.

The Copenhagen native is one of eleven players on the Danish roster who plays here club hockey in Sweden. She moved over in 2015 and is currently with Lulea. Denmark’s Swedish coach Peter Elander, who led the Damkronorna during its better days including the historic Olympic silver medal in 2006, has become the bench boss for the Danish women’s national team last year.

In a hard-fought and balanced third period it was another Josefine who wrote the next chapter. At 12:50 Holmgren scored another power-play goal for Sweden to tie the game at three and 91 seconds into overtime Michelle Lowenhielm scored Sweden’s game-winning goal again on a power play.

In this game for Scandinavian honour the Swedes succeeded in good timing as they prepare for 2021, which shall be a year of the redemption for the Damkronorna. At the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A next spring in Angers the Swedes will play host France, Norway, Austria, Slovakia and the Netherlands for promotion. In August they will host one of the Final Olympic Qualification groups where they will meet France and Slovakia (as well as a qualifier) again with the top team advancing to the Beijing 2022 Olympics.

While Denmark couldn’t beat their big rival head-to-head on ice, they can still enjoy their top-level status for the Women’s Worlds in Halifax and used this opportunity with a brave game against Sweden and a 4-0 win against Norway. Persson scored her tournament-leading third goal, Silke Glud netted two in the game.

In Halifax the Danes are seeded in the lower of the two-tiered groups and will play Japan, the Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary. The top-three of the five teams will advance to the quarter-finals against the Group A teams while the last two will be relegated.

Good and bad news for Finland

Another Northern European country played its games at home with Finland. The lionesses played two male opponents, the under-18 teams of Assat Pori and JYP Jyvaskyla, and head coach Pasi Mustonen hoped to have games at a pace comparable to their top opponents in women’s hockey.

The camp started well with a 3-2 win against Assat after goals from Nelli Laitinen and Susanna Tapani in regulation time and Petra Nieminen and Michelle Karvinen in the shootout.

The day after the lionesses didn’t seem to have enough energy left. Viivi Vainikka tied the game in a first period that ended 1-1 but eventually the JYP juniors won 6-1.

Things became worse one day later when a player previously tested negative showed Covid-19 symptoms and was tested positive at the end of the camp in Kuortane causing quarantine for players of the women’s national team and its opponents.

Other games were not held in women’s hockey during the international break. Two Hungary vs. Austria games in Budapest were cancelled in the last minute due to increasing Covid-19 numbers and restrictions in Hungary. Most other countries either cancelled their camps entirely such as the Czechs, Germany, Russia and Switzerland or held it without the usual exhibition games such as the United States.

Russian youngsters impress in Finland

Russian forward Rodion Amirov led the Karjala Tournament in goal scoring.

By Any Potts – IIHF.com

International hockey made a long-awaited return – albeit with some adjustments imposed by the coronavirus situation. In Finland, the Euro Hockey Tour got underway in front of limited crowds and players put in a bubble. Elsewhere, Germany staged its first top-level hockey event since the start of the pandemic as the Deutschland Cup took place, although only three teams took part in Krefeld.

Amirov sets record in Russian success

This is a big year for Rodion Amirov. The 19-year-old Salavat Yulayev Ufa forward has been tracked as one to watch for a couple of seasons and now he is starting to deliver on that promise. Elevated to a big role in the KHL as illness affected Ufa’s big names, he’s beginning to produce the points his potential demands. Then came a #15 NHL draft pick, linking him to the Leafs, and now a senior international debut.

And not just any debut. Russia decided to use the Karjala Tournament – traditionally a full-blooded men’s tournament – as a testing ground for its U20 roster. The Red Machine’s usual preparations for the World Juniors have been hampered by the pandemic, while national team head coach Valeri Bragin only recently recovered from a case of coronavirus. Thus, the Russian boys – Amirov & Co, under U20 head coach Igor Larionov – would face the men of Europe’s top hockey powers.

It was a controversial decision in Russia, and even more so beyond the country’s Western borders as the other teams didn’t hide their disappointment. But from the moment Amirov put his team 1-0 up in the second minute of the opening game against Finland, it was fully vindicated. Amirov scored in each of his first three international games – the first player ever to do so for Russia – and the team won three out of three to top the group. Only Sweden came close to stopping Larionov’s youngsters, losing out in a shootout after Amirov – who else? – potted a late goal in a 1-1 tie.

In his brief career to date, Amirov has sometimes been criticised as a luxury item. In Helsinki, though, there was no questioning his output or his attitude. His observations about the tournament suggested a big ‘buy in’ to the team amid the clamour about his personal performance.

“The most important thing was that we won the tournament,” he said. “Playing against men was an interesting experience, that’s really valuable as part of our preparation for the World Juniors. I’d like to thank Igor Nikolayevich [Larionov], who found the right words for the team. We always got switched on for the next game right away and we came here to win, not just to take part. The Russian national team’s task is always to win, so we did everything to achieve this with a competitive team. Luckily, everything worked out and we won the tournament.”

Larionov himself said that he was happy for Amirov and fellow forward and first-round draft pick Yegor Chinakhov, who finished with two goals in the tournament. But he also talked up the contribution of SKA St. Petersburg goalie Yaroslav Askarov, who returned to action in the opening 6-2 win over Finland and delivered three wins.

“We discussed it with Yaroslav [Askarov], we wanted to be sure that he felt he could play all three games. He made it clear that he wanted to play, he put in good performances, so we let him get on with it,” Larionov said. “We were all happy that he played so well, he was reliable every time.”

There was also praise for captain Vasili Podkolzin (SKA), but Larionov is looking forward to seeing how his young charges develop over the course of another month of KHL action.

“Winning any game helps us to progress and helps the guys to develop, especially here,” he added. “But there are loads of things that we saw where we can improve. This is just one step towards bringing the team together. Now our players are going back to their clubs, back to their routines, battling for a place on their teams. In another month, they will have that bit of extra experience. We’re looking forward to getting everyone together in Novogorsk at the end of November and work on our game together.”
 
Russia secured top spot with a 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday. Previously the Czechs, coached by Filip Pesan following the death of Milos Riha in the summer, had beaten both Sweden and Finland. However, they could not complete a sweep against Russia and had to settle for silver.

Pesan, who gave 12 players an international debut in the three games, was happy with what he saw over the weekend. Sunday’s game featured three teenagers, including 19-year-old goalie Lukas Parik, as the Czechs looked to build for their future. “I’m happy that we were able to help the U20s prepare for the World Championship,” Pesan told Hokej.cz. “A lot of the players here made a strong application to be invited back for other tournaments.”

The Czechs had their preparations disrupted by local restrictions that prevented teams from training in indoor arenas. Some of the teams practised outdoor or went abroad. “Right now, it just sounds like an excuse, but our boys were not game ready,” Pesan added. “I’m not interested in opinions, I just wanted to help the juniors and the youngsters played a great game.”

The good news that the Extraliga would be allowed to resume the competition just came when the team departed for Helsinki. The league had its first round on Saturday with no spectators allowed and mandatory testing before the games.

While the Slavic nations battled for top spot, their Nordic rivals had a tougher time of it. Finland and Sweden both selected entirely home-based rosters for the tournament. The two went head-to-head in Sunday’s concluding game with the loser destined to finish last. Sweden jumped to a 2-0 lead at the start of the second period, but the host nation steadily battled back and won on a power play goal from Valtteri Kemilainen with three minutes to play.

For 2016 World Junior champion Vili Saarijarvi, who got the tying goal midway through the third, it was important to finish the tournament strongly – and scoring his first senior international goal was a bonus.

“It wasn’t exactly a dream goal, but I’ll take it!” he said after the game. “We ended with a good feeling and I think we played our best game at the end, which was important. We did well to get back into it and get ahead at the end, and I think we deserved our win today.”

Latvia wins the Deutschland Cup

Top-level hockey returned to Germany for the first time since the pandemic as the Deutschland Cup saw the host nation play a three-way contest against Latvia and a Germany ‘B’ roster. That B team was comprised of under-25 players who are playing their way into contention for a call-up to the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. Due to the pandemic Norway, Slovakia and Switzerland have not been able to travel to Krefeld forcing the organizer to change the setup.

The games at Krefeld’s Yayla Arena represented a return to action for some of the country’s top players. The DEL, Germany’s top league, has postponed the start of the season and will soon discuss about the possibility of launching it in December. Following the weekend’s action, some of the clubs will play in a pre-season tournament.

Despite hopes for a smooth return to action, preparations for this tournament hit turbulence. Germany’s head coach, Toni Soderholm, tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his planned departure for the games. He remained in quarantine, communicating with his colleagues online, while Steffen Ziesche, U18 head coach, took charge of the team.

Latvia faced similar challenges, with Bob Hartley remaining in Russia where he is head coach of Avangard Omsk. Artis Arbols stepped up to replace him. With Dinamo Riga using the international pause to catch up on KHL games missed during its own quarantine, Latvia’s roster was a mix of home-based players, rising stars and, in the form of Martins Karsums and Andris Dzerins, a couple of veterans currently without a club.

The tournament format saw a round robin with the two top teams advancing to Sunday’s final. Germany B found life tough, losing 7-2 to Germany and 5-2 to Latvia. On Saturday, in a dress rehearsal for the medal game, the Germans defeated Latvia 2-0 and looked set to win it all.

However, the Latvians had other ideas. Down 0-1 to Andreas Eder’s goal midway through the first period, the Baltic nation hit back with two goals in 11 seconds to take a lead into the first intermission. Gatis Sprukts and Frenks Razgals were the scorers. Marc Michaelis, a Canucks prospect loaned back to his native Mannheim for the start of the DEL season, tied it up for Germany in the third but Razgals came up with an overtime winner to give Latvia the trophy.

Two wins for Hungary

The first action, on Thursday, ended in a 5-2 win for the host. First period goals from Balint Magosi and Istvan Bartalis set Hungary on its way. Poland rallied in the middle frame, getting back to 2-3 thanks to markers from Martin Przygodzki and Mateusz Bryk but the Hungarians took the game away with two unanswered goals in the third period.

After a comfortable win in the first game, the Magyars also took the second encounter. This was a tighter affair, with Poland leading twice before Istvan Sofron scored two to give the home team another victory.

Compulsory victory for the German A selection after ice hockey return

Source: re.Jerusalem

After eight months of stagnation and almost a year without an international game, the national players have given ice hockey a step back in Germany.

At the start of the most unusual German Cup in its 33-year history due to the crown, the A-side of the German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB) beat the Olympic prospect team effortlessly 7: 2 (4: 1, 1: 0, 2: 1) without national coach Toni Söderholm.

Yasin Ehliz (9th minute), Marc Michaelis (12th), twice Marcel Brandt (15th / 49th), Colin Ugbekile (18th), Marcel Noebels (33rd) and Markus Eisenschmid (58th) shot in the Krefelder Arena without spectators the gates of the current national team. Only Nino Kinder (3rd), 19, and Haakon Hänelt (58th), from Eisbären Berlin, 17, met for the talent selection overseen by national Under-20 coach Tobias Abstreiter.

Söderholm, infected with the corona virus, was only able to follow his national team’s first game 361 days after the last German Cup 2019 international match against Slovakia via video stream. Its representatives – U18 national coach Steffen Ziesche and Bremerhaven coach DEL Thomas Popiesch – saw a level that could be improved at the start of the tournament. Most players were only able to resume training on the ice recently. “At the beginning, we didn’t have a structure in it. There is certainly still room for improvement, ”admitted double scorer Marcel Brandt of the Straubing Tigers.

After the German ice hockey league season ended in March due to the corona crisis, there was no professional gaming operation in Germany. International matches and the World Cup in May have been canceled. Unlike other sports leagues in Germany or other European ice hockey leagues, the DEL has so far not been able to resume playing without hearing income. “We want to use games wisely to bring the sport to life. We want to continue our daily life afterwards, ”Noebels said before the start.

DEB had also gone to great lengths to revamp their traditional home tournament, which has actually been played with four nations for several years. After some refusals from other teams, only three teams from two nations are participating this year. The third team is Latvia, which will meet the German talents on November 6 (5 p.m. / MagentaSport) and the German team A on November 7 (4:45 p.m. / Sport1 and MagentaSport).

Even games without spectators are a novelty for the DEB which, according to its own press release, lacks 300,000 euros at the box office. However, by hosting the tournament, the association deliberately wanted to set an example in the decisive weeks to come. This weekend, DEL2 and the top third-class leagues also begin their gaming operations. In the coming week, eight of the 14 DEL clubs will be launching a specially created preparatory tournament. The elite league wants to decide on November 19 if they can still start with a season in mid-December.

Austrian U20 team wins

The Austrian players celebrate a goal in the first exhibition game against Hungary.

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

The November international break saw few events going on such as the Karjala Tournament and the Deutschland Cup in men’s senior hockey.

However, many tournaments in several categories had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures against it. And some that were planned got cancelled in the last minute such as U20 and U18 games between the Finnish and Swedish national teams due to players tested positive on the Swedish side.

The only international U20 games were played in St. Polten between host Austria and Hungary. Belarus and Denmark abstained from travelling to the event and Latvia, also planned for the tournament, cancelled its flight booking after positive tests.

The Austrians, who were promoted to play in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton, succeeded with two wins against their neighbours – 4-2 and 6-3.

Recent first-round draft pick Marco Rossi scored a goal, Senna Peeters and the team’s youngest player Marco Kasper led the Austrians with two markers. 16-year-old Kasper is the son of former Olympian Peter Kasper and moved to Rogle Angelholm in Sweden ahead of this season where fellow U20 national team players Peeters and Thimo Nickl are among his teammates.

“The association did a good job and our safety concept worked well,” said head coach Marco Pewal about the event. “In a few weeks we will enter a bubble to prepare for the World Juniors. This will be a completely new experience for everybody. I hope all players stay healthy so that we can participate at the World Junior Championship with our strongest team.”

The team will enter the bubble at home on 6 December in St. Polten and fly to Edmonton one week later. There the Austrians are seeded in a group with Russia, Sweden, the United States and the Czech Republic.

The only other U20 national team that had games this week was Poland, which ended up playing against club teams Polonia Bytom and Zaglebie Sosnowiec.

Deutschland Cup for the first time since 1987 with only three teams

Source:  re:Jerusalem

For the first time in 33 years, the German Cup of ice hockey will only take place with three teams next week.

Due to some cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, the German Ice Hockey Federation is sending out of necessity not only the national team but also the Olympic prospect team with young talents to the traditional tournament from November 5 to 8 in Krefeld. The third participant is Latvia. Previously, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland and Norway, among others, had canceled.

“I am incredibly happy that this is happening again now,” said national coach Toni Söderholm. Due to the corona situation, the German Cup was on the brink until the end. Söderholm and DEB wanted to play again after a long break in Germany for sporting and advertising reasons.

The DEB goes to great lengths to achieve this. The three teams will be isolated before and during the tournament. The DEB also accepts an economic loss due to the non-admission of viewers. “Of course, it hurts us not to have an audience; We can’t make up for that either, ”said Mario Hilble, Head of Events and Marketing at DEB. “Sporting and political damage would be greater.” Since 2008, the DEB home tournament has actually been played with four nations. It was not until the first edition in 1987 in Stuttgart that three teams took part.

Unlike last year, there will be a game every day next week from Thursday to Sunday in everyone versus everyone mode. The final will take place on Sunday (2:30 p.m.). All matches are broadcast by MagentaSport. The matches of the German A team will also be broadcast by Sport1 on free television. The German perspective team is coached by U20 coach Tobias Abstreiter.

At Korbinian Holzer there is also a professional who was employed in the NHL in the German A team. Following the end of his contract with the Nashville Predators, the 32-year-old defenseman is looking for a new team in North America and is currently in good form with second division club Tölzer Löwen. Other NHL players, who are not expected to leave until early 2021, are not in the lineup. “It has to do with insurance,” Söderholm said.

The Finn was last in charge of the national team in the Deutschland Cup 2019. The season in the German ice hockey league was later canceled due to the pandemic and the world championship in Switzerland was canceled. canceled. It’s still unclear if the LED can even start a season this year.

Rossi and Nickl at the St. Polten U20 tournament

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The two Austrian talents drafted by NHL clubs Marco Rossi and Thimo Nickl will lead Austria’s U20 national ice hockey team in there only preparatory tournament for the U20 World Championships in Edmonton in December. The forward Marco Rossi, who was drafted by Minnesota Wild at number 9, and defender Thimo Nickl, who was chosen by the Anaheim Ducks at number 104, can be seen at the St. Polten U20 Cup from November 5-7 against Belarus, Denmark and Latvia in St. Polten, Austria.

At the U20 World Championships , which the teams will contest in a “bubble” in Edmonton, the ÖEHV selection starts against the USA (December 26th), followed by the games against Sweden (December 28th), Russia (December 29th) and the Czech Republic (December 31st) .). Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no relegation this year.

For the members of the Austria’s U20 national ice hockey team, three negative coronavirus tests are necessary within a week in order to be able to take the charter flight to Edmonton on December 13th.

The 2020 Karjala Cup Confirm

By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey

The Finnish Ice Hockey Federation has confirmed that the 2020 Karjala Cup will be held accordance with the new health regulations.

The competition will take place at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland from November 5th-8th, 2020.
A maximum attendance of 4,500 will be allowed for games involving the Finnish national team, but all games without Finland’s participation will be held behind closed doors.

All participating teams will undergo testing for coronavirus before flying to Finland and upon arrival. That includes the Finnish national team, referees and everyone involved with the tournament.

Teams will stay in one hotel and will only be allowed to leave for training sessions and games. Designated shuttles will transport the teams to and from the Arena.

Schedule Here

Swedes perfect at home

Sweden’s Magnus Hellberg led all goaltenders in save percentage

By Derek O’Brien – IIHF.com

The third leg of the 2019/20 Euro Hockey Tour stopped in Stockholm, Sweden for the Beijer Hockey Games. The host Swedes took the maximum nine points from three games. They were followed by the Czech Republic with five points, Finland with three and Russia with one.

Entering the weekend’s final game on Sunday night, Finland had an opportunity to beat Sweden and win the tournament. However, before at crowd of 12,166 at the Ericsson Globe, the Swedes built up a 3-0 lead in the first period before cruising to a 5-1 win. Linus Johansson scored the game’s first and last goals, while five Swedes topped the tournament in points. Mathias Brome and Marcus Nilsson had four points each while Samuel Fagemo, Lukas Bengtsson, Fredrik Handemark and Finn Julius Junttila had three each. Handemark, captain of the SHL’s Malmo Redhawks, is the EHT’s overall scoring leader this season with six points in nine games. 

Fagemo’s goal against Finland was his second for the Swedish senior men’s national team in as many career games. After winning the Champions Hockey League final with Frolunda Gothenburg on Tuesday, the top scorer of this year’s World Junior Championship didn’t play in Sweden’s first game against the Czechs on Thursday but scored his first goal in his men’s national team debut on Saturday in a 5-2 win over Russia.

“Everything’s happened so quickly and I’ve just tried to enjoy it the best I can,” Fagemo told hockeysverige.se before Sunday’s game. “It’s fun to score goals and it was great to contribute, and I hope another good game can help us win on home ice.”

Fagemo isn’t the only former World Junior player to score his first two senior men’s international goals this weekend. Earlier on Sunday, the Czechs secured second place with a 4-3 shootout win over Russia. Defenceman Jan Kostalek of Sparta Prague scored twice in the third period, including the equalizer at 59:58 to force overtime.

“I took a shot, Keba (Jakub Jerabek) drove to the net and deflected it on goal, the puck bounced off someone, it came back to me at the top of the circle and all I did was take another whack at it and it went in,” the 24-year-old told hokej.cz after the game. “I was getting lots of shots, so it’s nice that they’re finally going in for me.” 

Swede Magnus Hellberg and Czech Dominik Furch were the only goalies to win two games over the weekend, and the pair dominated all goaltending categories, finishing 1-2 in goals-against average, save percentage and saves. 

Finland’s three points all came from their opening 3-0 win over Russia, which took place in Helsinki. In his home rink, IFK Helsinki goalie Frans Tuohimaa made 18 saves to record the tournament’s only shutout.

The single point gained in the shootout loss to the Czechs was Russia’s only in the tournament after two straight regulation losses, but denied them a chance to force a three-way tie for second. Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk forward Pavel Poryadin, 23, scored two of the team’s five goals over the weekend.

With three of four legs complete, Sweden and the Czech Republic are now tied for first place in this season’s Euro Hockey Tour with 16 points each, followed by Finland with 14 and Russia with eight. The last stop will be in the Czech Republic on the first weekend in May, just before the start of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. For that event, the rosters of the four teams will look very similar to the ones they take to Switzerland.

Europe’s top four hockey nations use the Euro Hockey Tour to prepare their men’s national teams for the annual World Championships and the quadrennial Winter Olympics.

Austria, Slovakia and Switzerland win other events

Meanwhile, at the Kaufland Cup in Poprad, Slovakia, the hosts beat Belarus 4-3 and the Russian B team 2-1 to finish first. Russia B finished second with three points and Belarus lost both games.

“We played as a team. The players battled for each other,” Slovak head coach Craig Ramsay told hockeyslovakia.sk following the last game of the tournament on Saturday, in which his team scored twice in the first 13 minutes, then held on to beat the Russians. “I think it was our best game of the season.” 

The Osterreich Cup took place in Klagenfurt, Austria, with the host Austrians finishing first by beating Denmark 3-2 in the final on an overtime goal by Ali Wukovitz. Denmark never trailed in regulation time and held a 32-22 edge in shots but Bernhard Starkbaum was solid in the Austrian net. The game for third place was a defensive affair, with France beat Norway 2-1 in a shootout.

Finally, Switzerland won two games against Germany in a series called Prospects Games, in which each team tested young players with limited previous experience with their men’s national teams. With no players over 25 on their roster, the Swiss won 4-2 in Herisau and 2-1 in a shootout in Olten.

Canada wins fourth Spengler Cup title in five years

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Canada has won the Spengler Cup for the fourth time in the past five years.

The national men’s hockey team defeated Ocelari Trinec  of the Czechia 4-0 in the final.

Dustin Jeffrey scored twice and added an assist to lead Canada past Ocelari Trinec on Tuesday afternoon in Davos, Switzerland.

Canada lost last year’s final in a shootout against KalPa Kuopio of Finland.

It’s Canada’s fourth Spengler Cup title in the past five years and 16th overall.

Swedes, Swiss win tournaments

Dennis Rasmussen (right) scored two goals at the last World Championship and now two goals in Sweden’s Channel One Cup triumph

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Sweden, beaten in its first three games under new head coach Johan Garpenlov, hit back hard in Russia to win the Channel One Cup. Tre Kronor defeated the host nation and the Czechs, coming out on top in the latest stage of the Euro Hockey Tour despite a painful 1-5 defeat against Finland in the middle game of its three.

The Finland game was also notable for Frans Tuohimaa’s empty-net goal. There’s nothing very unusual about a shot from beyond the red line going into an unguarded net, but Tuohimaa is a goalie. Goaltenders rarely turn goalgetters, but this was a memorable exception.

However, Garpenlov’s team was the success of the tournament – and the head coach had every cause for relief as it bounced back from a dismal display in the Karjala Tournament last month.

“It feels really good,” the head coach said. “I’m happy for the guys, they put so much work into this.”

Sweden began with a statement of intent in its first game in Moscow, defeating Russia 4-3 despite long spells under pressure against the tournament host. The Red Machine topped the shot count 46-19, but never really recovered from going 0-2 down in the first period.

“We had a good first period and got some goals,” Garpenlov added in a TV interview after the game. “We took a hold of the game, which it felt like we never did in the last tournament. We talked about how we wanted to do that here and we went out to get a rapid return.”

Russia came second in the tournament and put on a grandiose spectacle in Sunday’s game against Finland. But, despite winning 2-0 in front of 67,877 fans at St. Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena in a Winter Classic, there were still questions about Alexei Kudashov’s team after the competition. The Russian media raised concerns about the team’s defensive frailties after the 3-4 loss against Sweden was following by a 3-3 tie against the Czechs. Russia won that in a shootout and tightened up its game to shut out the Finns, only to face renewed criticism for boring hockey that failed to excite the big crowd.

Kudashov, meanwhile, pointed out that games against Finland are traditionally low-scoring affairs. “It was a tough, tight game,” he said. “Against Finland it doesn’t happen any other way. How often have you seen the Finns allow opponents to produce bright, attacking hockey? They have a disciplined team that is strong on defence, especially on the smaller ice. They do not open up and it’s hard to get behind them. You saw it in the World Championship and today was the same. We study the opposition; we look for their weak spots. Today we had a plan to win the game, and we did it.”

Finland took third place in the tournament and drew level with the Czech Republic in the overall Euro Tour standings. The Czechs, meanwhile, followed victory at the Karjala Cup with a fourth-placed result here.

Loeffel makes history with Switzerland

Good omen for 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship host Switzerland as the Swiss national team won their home tournament of the December International Break in convincing fashion. It was their second tournament win in just over a month after having claimed the Deutschland Cup in November.

Swiss defenceman Romain Loeffel scored four goals in his country’s 8-2 victory over Russia ‘B’ at the NaturEnergie Challenge in Visp. The 28-year-old became only the second man ever to score four for the Swiss in the modern era, following Felix Hollenstein’s haul in a 20-1 victory over China in 1994. Loeffel is the first blue liner to hit four in one game for the Swiss.

“I had no idea these were so historic,” he said after the game. “I was mostly just happy for the team that we put on such a great performance. And of course it’s great to score four goals. I’ll keep my stick and the pucks that I scored with in a place of honour when I get them home.”

Switzerland’s emphatic victory in that game followed a 5-0 semi-final win over Norway as the host nation topped the table in this mini-tournament. Simon Moser scored twice against the Norwegians, while Enzo Corvi had three assists.

Russia started the tournament with a shootout win over Slovakia, recovering from 0-2 to tie it 2-2 in regulation. Norway defeated the Slovaks 4-1 for third place

Back-to-back wins for Belarus

In the Hungarian capital of Budapest, Belarus came out on top in a six-team tournament within the Euro Challenge framework. The Belarusians defeated France 3-2 in the gold-medal game after topping its group ahead of Korea and Ukraine.

Head coach Mikhail Zakharov admitted that he could not remember the last time Belarus won two tournaments in a row. Earlier this season Belarus won in Liepaja, Latvia. “Last year, we lost every tournament we played,” he said. “In recent years, we’ve found it tough to win even one tournament in the Euro Challenge, never mind two.”

Zakharov also noted that he had a more experienced and skilled roster in Hungary. Andrei Kostitsyn was a key player, scoring twice in the final against France, while Nick Bailen had two assists in the same game.

However, there was a curious conclusion to the group stage meeting between Belarus and Ukraine. In the 43rd minute, an injury to Ukrainian goalie Bogdan Dyachenko meant the game had to be halted. The starting netminder, Oleg Petrov, had been injured earlier in proceedings and there was nobody else available to see out the rest of the play. Belarus was leading 4-1 at the time and was awarded the victory by that scoreline.

Korea took third place thanks to a 5-2 win over Japan in the bronze-medal game. Hungary got the better of Ukraine in the placement match-up.

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