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USA Resumes Border Battle in World Championship Finals

Double shutouts in the semifinals ensure US meets Canada in the gold medal match. Finland will play Germany for bronze. Russia beat Sweden 4-3 in the placement game and Switzerland beat the Czech Republic 3-2 in the second game of the relegation series.

United States v Canada - 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship
Nicole Hensley backstopped the US through two games in the tournament and will face Canada in the gold medal game.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Day five of the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship tournament was the semifinals. The day started with Switzerland and the Czech Republic playing their second of three relegation games at 11:00 am CT. Then at 2:30pm CT Finland played Canada for a shot at the gold medal tomorrow. Russia faced Sweden for a 4pm CT placement game to determine 5th and 6th place in the secondary rink at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. The last game of the day was the US playing Germany for the other spot in the championship game at 6:30pm CT.

Czech Republic vs Switzerland

Other than a few penalties, there wasn’t a lot of action of note in the first period of the Switzerland-Czech Republic game and they went into the second period scoreless. Then at 8:39 of the second period Tereza Vanisova, with an assist by Aneta Ledlova, scored on goaltender Florence Schelling. Pavlina Horalkova earned a penalty for hanging onto a broken stick at 9:47 and with this power play Nicole Bullo tied the game Phoebe Staenz and Evelina Raselli assisted. At the end of the period Lara Stalder put Switzerland in the lead by scoring unassisted at 19:47.

Vanisova retied the game at 13:55 of the third period, assisted by Petra Herzigova. Christine Meier went to the box for holding at 12:04 and Alena Polenska had to sit for delay of game at 17:19, but neither team was able to convert. Nor could they finish in regulation. However, Meier slid the puck past the Czech goaltender, Klara Peslarova, at 4:26 of overtime, winning the game. Stalder and Laura Benz assisted. This win put the Czech Republic and Switzerland in a 1-1 tie for the relegation series and the deciding game for who moves down a division will be at 11:00 am CT, April 7th.

Finland v Canada

Finnish goaltender Noora Räty took the first penalty of the game, interference, when she took down Emily Clark behind her net at 7:37. Räty made an amazing leg swipe save when Rebecca Johnston tried to backdoor the puck into goal. Anna Kilponen went for tripping at 9:16 and Finland killed the penalty. Later, Sarah Potomak swooped down the right side, made a back pass to Brianne Jenner, and when Jenner’s shot hit the post, Potomak caught the rebound at the crease and flicked the puck into goal at 17:35. Natalie Spooner had the second assist. To end the period Blayre Turnbull went to the box for slashing Räty after she covered the puck at 18:51, but the penalty harmlessly expired second period.

Spooner handed the puck off to Marie-Philip Poulin in the right circle and she out skated the Finnish defense to hurl into goal, dislodging a water bottle in the process, from the left circle at 5:08 of the second period. Kilponen took another hooking penalty, hooking at 6:07 and on the power play Johnston shot the puck into the top left corner of goal from the right circle after confounding the goaltender at 7:33. Poulin had the lone assist. Erin Ambrose took a hooking penalty at 11:05, but Finland’s advantage was nullified when they were caught putting too many skaters on the ice at 12:51.

Third period started with a series of penalties: Haley Irwin for hooking at 1:09, Linda Valimaki for holding at 3:44, Jocelyne Larocque hooking at 8:07, and Spooner for tripping at 13:47. Sensing the Spooner penalty was the last chance for Finland to mount any sort of come back, Räty was pulled at 14:13 for the extra skater. With the net empty, Clark scored from the right side at 15:31. Lauriane Rougeau assisted on the final nail in Finland’s coffin. Räty was restored to goal, but then pulled again when Laura Fortino had to sit for tripping at 16:57. Räty returned to her rightful spot between the pipes for the final 22 seconds of the game. Despite the wonderful performance earlier this week, Finland couldn’t crack Shannon Szabados’s defenses and fell 4-0 to Canada. With that Canada goes on the hunt for gold, while Finland hopes to take home a bronze.

Finland v Canada - 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship Semifinal
Shannon Szabados making one of many fantastic saves in a 4-0 shutout against Finland.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Sweden v Russia

Sweden and Russia played their final game of the tournament Thursday to determine placement ranking. At 7:58 of the first period Yelena Dergachyova earned a penalty for an illegal hit, but Russia killed the penalty. Still, Sweden was first to score with a goal by Johanna Fallman at 17:07. Erica Uden Johansson and Maria Lindh assisted. Yekaterina Lobova took a hooking penalty at 18:44, which trickled into second period.

As Lobova’s neared its end, Dergachyova speared a Swede, which earned her a double minor and a ten-minute game misconduct 17 seconds into the period. Before the 5-on-3 advantage ended Fallman scored her second goal of the game, assisted by Emma Nordin, at 42 seconds. This goal also caused Russia to replace their goaltender, Maria Sorokina with Nadezhda Alexandrova. Erika Grahm took a cross-checking penalty at 1:54, which put the teams on 4-on-4 play. However, Yekaterina Smolentseva hauled Sabrina Lambertz Kuller down to the ice in a corner. Smolentseva was sent to the box for holding at 3:39 and received an additional ten minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.

One penalty was killed, but there were still four Russians in the penalty box when Sweden when to accidentally play a skater short. Hanna Olsson took a holding the stick penalty at 4:45. However, a minute later play was whistled down and there was a long delay and officials conferred to determine who was supposed to be in the box, who was supposed to be released, if they needed to reset the clock, and how many skaters were supposed to be on the ice. The delay was long enough they allowed both benches to take to the ice for a bit of skating to stay warm while they figured things out. Eventually everything was sorted and play resumed.

During all of these penalties play was almost exclusively in Russia’s zone, but once the Russians started getting their skaters back, pressure was put on Lovisa Berndtsson’s crease. Then Johanna Olofsson tripped Fanuza Kadirova at 7:22 and the Russians cycled the puck, but were unable to convert. Sweden kept the game 2-0 in their favor through the end of the period.

Dergachyova carried the puck in on the left side, passed to Lyudmila Belyakova in the slot, and Belyakova scored at 2:30 of the third period by putting the puck in high on the left side. Annie Svedin went for charging at 8:40 and her penalty harmlessly expired two minutes later. This didn’t deter Russia and they continued buzzing around Sweden’s zone. Then Anna Borgqvist made a wonderful attempt on goal, but Alexandrova somehow blocked the shot, and Borgqvist crashed into the corner. Yevgenia Dyupina and Michelle Lowenhielm collided between the circles in Russia’s zone and Lowenhielm skated off doubled over in pain.

The chaos Russia created in Sweden’s zone eventually led to a second goal at 10:47. Kadirova scored from just outside the crease and was assisted by Smolentseva and Nina Pirogova. A few minutes later and Olga Sosina’s shot from just inside the blue line went into goal over Berndtsson’s shoulder at 13:48. Anna Shokina had the lone assist. Belyakova earned a hooking penalty at 17:17 and Pernilla Winberg, assisted by Nordin, capitalized at to retie the game at 17:52.

The teams were unable to finish things in regulation, nor could they finish the job in overtime. That pushed the game to a shootout. Shukina and Belyakova shot first for Russia, while Winberg and Lisa Johansson went for Sweden. None of them scored. Sosina went next for Russia and scored, while Olsson’s shot was saved. However, this was, unexpectedly, a five-round shootout instead of the traditional three-round and so Russia’s celebrations were a little premature. Shokhina hit the post, but Grahm scored and then Kadirova did as well. Then Borgqvist’s shot was denied, which meant that Russia had won and this time they were able to celebrate their 4-3 shootout victory.

US v Germany

From the moment the puck dropped the US hit hard and fast, shelling Germany with an uninterrupted onslaught until the final buzzer rang. Kendall Coyne flew down the left side and as she slid along the backboards she passed to Hilary Knight, who scored from just left of the crease at 1:06. Knight shot from the left side of the crease, trying to hook a rebound in on the backdoor, but the post knocked her shot away. Kelli Stack carried the puck down the left side, skated in toward the crease and made a close shot on goal, which hit Jennifer Harss’s stick and bounced into goal at 8:47. Haley Skarupa and Monique Lamoureux-Morando assisted. Brianna Decker made a breakaway, but Harss denied her with a stellar leg swipe. Marie Delarbre went for slashing at 11:23, but Germany killed the penalty and the period ended with the US only up by two.

Germany v United States - 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship Semifinal
Jennifer Harss stood on her head trying to stop an unstoppable force. She’s been absolutely amazing in every game she’s played and the backbone of Team Germany.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

16 seconds into second period Nina Kamenik tripped Meghan Duggan and had to sit. After some puck cycling Decker made a shot from the left circle and Coyne tipped it in from the right side at 2:02. Lamoureux-Morando had the second assist. Seconds later Amanda Kessel passed the puck back and forth with Megan Keller before shooting from the left circle, which Emily Pfalzer backdoored into goal at 2:38. Joyelyne Lamoureux-Davidson caught a puck Stack lost, weaved past several skaters, and flipped the puck into goal from the top of the crease at 3:24.

The reporters running the stream decided to, for mind boggling reasons, interview Coyne’s fiancé during play and focused the camera on him instead of the hockey game. This meant we missed Coyne’s second goal of the game because the camera were on a male football player instead of the international hockey game he was there to watch. Luckily, there was at least one camera focused on the game on on replay it showed that Coyne swooped past the crease and scored through Harss’s 5-hole at 4:22. Knight and Decker had the assists.

Then Keller scored, assisted by Kessel, at 26:15 with a long high shot from the slot. Seven goals was the magic number, as Germany then chose to replace Harss—who had done everything she could have possibly done to keep the score down—with Ivonne Schroder. Yvonne Rothemund took a delayed slashing penalty at 8:49. On the power play it looked like Lamoureux-Davidson banged home a close and dirty rebound from Decker, but somehow Schroder kept the puck out. Then Kerstin Spielberger had an amazing chance with US goaltender Nicole Hensley down and an otherwise open net, but somehow the puck was knocked away at the last moment. Second period ended with the score 7-0 in favor of the US.

Right after third period started Hannah Brandt crashed into Germany’s net. Then Kacey Bellamy took an interference penalty at 1:06, which was spent shelling Schroder in goal. The assault continued after the penalty expired. Kessel passed to Bellamy and she fired on goal from the right circle. Schroder blocked the shot, but then she and Kelly Pannek hit the ice, which allowed Amanda Pelkey to knock the puck into goal at 4:19. Then Sophie Kratzer took an interference penalty, which was delayed until 11:02—two minutes and twenty-one seconds after the initial call because the US dominated puck possession. Just as the power play ended Knight passed behind Germany’s net to Decker, who sent it up to Lamoureux-Morando high in the slot and she slap shot the puck into goal under Schroder’s arm at 13:06.

A minute later as multiple skaters cycled around the net firing, Schroder lost sight of the puck after she had blocked several shots and hit the ice, then Skarupa scored at 14:10 from the right side. Stack had the lone assist. Rothemund took another penalty, an illegal hit, at 18:30 and this allowed Alex Carpenter, assisted by Keller, to score on the power play at 19:47. When the final buzzer had rung the US had scored more goals than Germany had shots, which was 8 to America’s 50. With this 11-0 victory, the US maintained their unbeaten streak and will face Canada in the gold medal match at 6:30pm CT today, April 7th.