The National Women's Hockey League continues its offseason with numerous player signings, its first international draft and several front office moves. In case you've missed anything over the last few weeks, let's take a look at what's happened in the league.
Saturday, April 6
Sweden vs. Czech Republic (3-5)
These teams traded goals back and forth in this high-scoring affair, but ultimately the Czech offense came out on top with 5 goals to Sweden's 3.
Sweden opened the scoring in the dying seconds of a power play as Hanna Olsson took a pass and wristed the puck behind Klara Peslarová from the left circle.
It didn't take Natálie Mlýnková long to tie it up for the Czech Republic – she stole the puck forward on a faceoff and beat Sara Grahn with a quick shot. But Sweden took the lead again on a broken play and Emma Nordin was able to tap a rebound past a sprawling Peslarová where it found a wide open net.
Almost halfway through the second, the Czechs got a tying goal on the power play. Natálie Mlýnková worked her way to the center of the ice where she was able to take a sneaky pass from Aneta Tejralova and redirect the puck behind Grahn.
A beautiful cross-ice pass by veteran Simona Studentova to Vendula Přibylová for a wrist shot gave the Czechs their first lead of the game, and midway through the third, Denisa Křížová increased the lead by going forward on the faceoff, much as Mlýnková had in the first period, and beating Grahn up high.
Sweden got within one with their goaltender pulled with just over two minutes to play on a nice redirect goal by Erika Grahm, but Tereza Vanišová sealed the deal with an empty netter for the Czechs.
Russia vs. Finland (0-4)
Noora Räty earned a shutout and Finland chased goalie Valeria Merkusheva with a third period explosion of three goals in less than five minutes to win their first game of the tournament.
Petra Niemenen opened the scoring about six minutes into the game, skating through several Russian defenders to get a clean shot off that ended up in the back of the net.
Merkusheva gave her team every chance to win, though, with a big second period in which she was perfect. She made 19 saves on 19 shots as Russia spent nearly eight minutes shorthanded.
The floodgates opened in the third period, though, starting with a rebound goal from Sanni Hakala. Russia had basically allowed Finland to enter the zone undefended, and there was nothing Merkusheva could do with three blue jerseys bearing down on her crease.
A beautiful close-range snap shot by Viivi Vainikka put the Finns up 3-0, and a steal by Vainikka at the Russian blueline set up a pass to Elisa Holopainen in front of the net, who had plenty of room for a backhander over Merkusheva's pad. She was then replaced with Anna Prugova. Despite a late power play, Russia wouldn't be able to beat Räty.
Japan vs. Germany (2-3)
Japan outshot Germany 41-18 but still ended up with the loss, as Jennifer Harß put on another elite performance and gave Germany the chance to pull ahead for the win with a late goal.
Anna Fiegert opened the scoring for Germany in the first, beating Nana Fujimoto with a long-range slapshot. Japan poured it on in the second period with 22 shots to Germany's two, but Harß was perfect.
This set the stage for a third that was much more even and featured a lot of back and forth. Germany took the 2-0 lead on the power play with Rui Ukita in the box for hooking. Celina Haider swooped in to pick up a rebound and shuffle it in behind Fujimoto.
Captain Chiho Osawa finally broke through for Japan, picking up a rebound while the rest of her team crashed the net around Harß. Just 11 seconds later, Haruka Toko stole a puck from a German defender behind the net and made a quick pass to Hanae Kubo, who was able to cut to the middle and beat Harß at close range to tie the game.
The goal that put Germany ahead was a redirect by Marie Delarbre that just trickled through Nana Fujimoto's pads – and it was late, with just over three minutes to go in the game. Delarbre got nabbed for slashing with just 30 seconds left, but Japan was unable to get a tying goal.
USA vs. Canada (3-2)
A messy game with a lot of sloppy passing and penalties was still a close one for the top two teams in the world, but Team USA came out on top thanks to a second period power play goal by Annie Pankowski that ended up being the difference-maker.
Hilary Knight got the first goal of the game on a beautiful feed from Dani Cameranesi, after a misstep by the young defensive pairing of Micah Zandee-Hart and Jaime Bourbonnais that led to a 2-on-1, and Knight had an easy time beating Emerance Maschmeyer.
Sarah Nurse tied the game on a power play later in the first, swooping in on a puck that had trickled into the blue paint behind Alex Rigsby and preventing Hayley Scamurra from clearing it out. Kendall Coyne Schofield gave Team USA the lead back late in the first period after Zandee-Hart fell down and she was able to pick up the puck and go in alone on Maschmeyer.
Brianne Jenner tied the game for Canada in the second, redirecting a point shot by Brigette Lacquette on the power play. But Pankowski gave the Americans the lead for keeps with a big blast from the top of the right circle.
Despite a third filled with even more penalties, no one else would score for either team. Rigsby finished with 31 saves to Maschmeyer's 27.
Sunday, April 7
France vs. Sweden (1-2)
France scored first and got great goaltending from Caroline Baldin, but ultimately were unable to hold off a 40-shot performance by the Swedes for their first win of the tournament.
Lara Escudero picked up a rebound and used a Swedish defender as a screen to get off a quick shot and beat Sara Grahn five-hole with about five minutes remaining in the first period.
Melinda Olsson tied it up for Sweden with an opportunistic goal as both teams scrambled for the puck near the slot. Olsson corralled the puck and got all alone in front of Baldin, and didn't miss glove side. Pernilla Winberg made it 2-1, picking up a loose puck in the crease and lifting it over Baldin who had gone down to try to cover.
Playing from behind, France only mustered 6 shots in the third period and the score would remain unchanged.
USA vs. Switzerland (0-8)
Team USA lit up Janine Alder with 8 goals and Maddie Rooney earned a shutout in her first game of the tournament. Switzerland had a tough mountain to climb but did not even make it to double digits on the shot clock, while the Americans never took their feet off of the gas and managed to put nearly 60 on Alder.
NHL Network posted all of the goals, which are really what you want to see here:
Other game highlights via the IIHF (hover over the game you want to see, and then click "highlights")
- Japan vs. Czech Republic (5:30 AM Eastern)
- Finland vs. Switzerland (9:00 AM Eastern)
- Germany vs. France (11:00 AM Eastern)
- Canada vs. Russia (12:30 PM Eastern) (TSN / NHL Network)
- Sweden vs. Japan (5:30 AM Eastern)
- USA vs. Russia (9:00 AM Eastern) (TSN / NHL Network)
- Czech Republic vs. Germany (11:00 AM Eastern)
- Canada vs. Finland (12:30 PM Eastern) (TSN / NHL Network)
That will conclude round robin play and we will get matchups for the quarterfinals.
Filed under: 2019 iihf women's world championship; team sweden; team germany; team czech republic; team switzerland; team usa; team canada; team japan; team finland; team france; ice hockey
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