By Andy Potts – IIHF.com
Alexei Chistyakov’s team won three out of four games in Rauma, only losing out in a dead rubber against the host nation on the final day.
The Red Machine made short work of Sweden in its opening game, easing to a 4-1 victory after Valeria Pavlova scored twice in the first six minutes. Pavlova went on to finish with three goals in the tournament, second only to Sweden’s Hanna Olsson in the scoring charts.
Next, Chistyakov’s team recorded a 3-1 success over Germany before a tight battle against Japan was decided by Nina Pirogova’s second-period goal. The Finns, defeated by Sweden earlier in the competition, needed a regulation-time win over Germany to keep the tournament alive going into the final day’s play, but tied 2-2 before claiming a shootout success.
That didn’t stop the host picking itself up and blanking Russia in the final game of the tournament. A shutout from Noora Raty and a lively performance from the Finnish offence secured a 3-0 victory with goals from Michelle Karvinen, Linda Valimaki and Noora Tulus. That gave Finland second place overall, with Sweden one point further back in third. Germany’s shootout win over Japan helped to condemn the Japanese to last place in the group.
Olsson topped the scoring with 6 (4+2) points, ahead of Pavlova. Finland’s Jenni Hiirikoski also picked up four points, while Karvinen got three from just two games.
Olympic preparations will continue in December for Russia and Japan: the two nations are set to play a pair of exhibition matches in the Far East on 24 and 25 December.
Switzerland, inspired by goalie Florence Schelling, enjoyed an impressive victory in a Four Nations tournament in the Czech Republic. The Swiss gave up just one goal in three games, with Schelling repelling 96.43% of the shots she faced as her team showed its strength ahead of February’s action in Korea.
Switzerland began with a 2-0 win over Norway thanks to goals from Alina Muller and Evelina Raselli. Three first period goals set up a 4-0 victory against France in the second game, and it wasn’t until early in the second period of game three that Schelling was finally beaten. Klara Hymlarova scored for the Czechs, but could not prevent a 3-1 loss. Muller finished the event with three goals from three games, Laura Benz had 1+2 and Phoebe Staenz contributed a trio of assists.
The other three nations, none of which will be involved in Korea, proved evenly matched and finished the tournament tied on three points. Norway enjoyed the biggest win, shooting down the Czechs 5-2 with Andrea Dalen contributing 1+2. But it also suffered a 3-1 loss against France, with Emmanuelle Passard scoring twice as the French recovered from losing an early goal.
The home team enjoyed its only victory of the event on the opening day, edging France 2-1. Alena Polenska snapped a 1-1 tie midway through the third period; Hymlarova had an assist on the winning goal.