International Ice Hockey Federation

Team USA does not disappoint

Team USA does not disappoint

Americans undefeated at Four Nations Cup

Published 13.11.2017 20:59 GMT+10 | Author John Sanful
Team USA does not disappoint
The U.S. women’s national team won the Four Nations Cup in Florida with a 4-0 record and hopes to win Olympic gold for the first time since 1998. Photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
The Four Nations Cup wrapped up Sunday at Amalie Arena in Tampa with host team USA beating Canada 5-1 in the final. Russia won a tournament on home ice.

The two final games played at the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning were capping a week of round robin games between the United States, Canada, Sweden, and Finland that started at the Florida Hospital Center Ice Complex in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

In the first game, Finland beat Sweden 2-1 in overtime. The win boosted Finland to a third place standing in the tournament.

“We were pleased with the result and wanted to win since it was our last game of the tournament,” captain Jenni Hiirkoski said. “These games are always tough. Our goal was to get that last win. It doesn’t matter how it comes, we were happy about the result.”

It was a closely contested first period as both teams traded opportunities but were unable to get on the scoreboard until Finland got through with 14.9 remaining. Hiirikoski scored an even strength goal to make it 1-0. The Finnish captain picked up her own rebound from a wraparound and backhanded it home.

Sweden was unable to get on track in the second period, generating scant few chances. They were limited to one shot on goal over the first ten minutes. But then at 10:58 they brought the game level when Erika Grahm redirected a shot from Emma Nordin into the net. Pernilla Winberg also picked up an assist. The goal was scored on the power play as Isa Rahunen was off for slashing and Rosa Lindstedt for interference.

“We got a good confidence booster out of that,” said Winberg. “We continued playing tough and I think they got a little frustrated and took some penalties.”

With 1:42 remaining in the second, Sweden would have a 5-on-3 power play advantage for 1:17. They used the time to patiently set up and get high percentage shots on goal but Meeri Raisanen, who started in goal for Finland, was up to the task.

The score remained tied 1-1 through the third period. Both goaltenders were strong and capably handled the offensive pressure they faced. Swedish netminder Sara Grahn was easily one of the best performers on her team.

“Sara was outstanding and always doing well in net,” Winberg observed. “It is always good having her in net for us.”

The game went to a ten-minute overtime where Finland controlled much of the extra frame. When Johanna Olofsson was sent off for roughing, the Finnish power play was given the chance to operate. Petra Nieminen and Susanna Tapani moved the puck and created scoring opportunities. Finally, Nieminen scored with three seconds remaining on the penalty. Nieminen picked up a loose puck in front of the net after Linda Valimaki’s shot was saved by Grahn. She set it to the back of the net for the deciding marker.

“I saw the puck there and the goal was empty and so I had that moment to take it and shoot it. Luckily, it went in,” Nieminen said of the game winner.

In the final game, the United States and Canada battled for the second time in a week and once again the Americans came out on top. Previously, the United States defeated Canada 4-2 at the Florida Hospital Center Ice in their second game of preliminary round play.

Team USA won all four of its games in the tournament earning the tournament championship and first place finish.

“Every win is a step in the right direction and it gives us momentum, confidence, and energy.” Captain Meghan Duggan said after the game. “We take each game very seriously regardless of opponent. We want to get better in every game. Coming out of this tournament 4-0 and capturing the championship feels good.”

Hannah Brandt’s two second-period goals 1:43 apart established a lead that Team USA would not relinquish.

“For Hannah Brandt to step up and get us going brought a lot of energy to our bench,” Duggan said of her teammate. “She did a fantastic job. She’s a goal scorer at heart and a ton of goal scoring ability. Glad she got rewarded tonight with those goals.”

These long-time rivals closed the first period scoreless even though there were some good opportunities on both sides. The Americans did not start the game in their usual dominant manner here at the Four Nations Cup, but halfway through they were able to turn up the effort.

“Sometimes in games like these against a familiar opponent you are feeling each other out,” Duggan said. “We had to be patient and wait for things to happen, things to open up in our favor. Everything we do is with a purpose.”

Kendall Coyne skated in on a breakaway two-and-a-half minutes into the game but was stopped. Bailey Bram had a good chance for Canada hitting the post in the closing seconds of the period. Shots in the first were 8-7 in Canada’s favour.

Canada had two prime odd man opportunities but USA goaltender Maddie Rooney held her ground. A two-on-one lead to a Jillian Saulnier shot going stick side was saved and a three-on-one yielded a shot by Jennifer Wakefield that was also turned away.

USA finally broke through when Brandt scored to make it 1-0. She held the puck as a two-on-one unfolded in front of the net. Brandt took her time, faking a possible pass across to Amanda Kessel, but instead rifling the shot past goaltender Genevieve Lacasse.

Brandt added another just under two minutes later. The goal came on the power play. Team USA would carry this two-goal lead into the third period.

Not to be outdone, Canada cut the lead in half while Kelly Pannek sat in the box. A one-timer by Meghan Agosta off a precision pass from Brigette Lacquette got Canada on the board. The power play goal came at 10:42.

The Americans turned up their intensity in the third as Hilary Knight, Amanda Kessel and Coyne added goals for good measure to extend USA’s lead to 5-1. Coyne’s goal came with seventeen seconds remaining in the game.

Dani Cameranesi assisted on three goals on the afternoon.

“We have to see where things went wrong and break down our game,” said Natalie Spooner of Canada’s effort. “We needed to do better. We had a lot of chances that we could have buried and turned things around. Looking forward, we have to capitalize on our opportunities.”

Team USA fared well in this tournament, a warmup before the 2018 Winter Olympics. They got balanced scoring from their forward lines and strong defence. Brandt and defender Emily Pfalzer enjoyed strong tournaments. Pfalzer tied for second on the team in scoring and contributed three goals to the cause. Both skaters are vying for a spot with Team USA at the Olympics.

“It would be an incredible honour to represent this team at the Olympics and to play against my sister would be even more special,” Brandt said of the possibility in suiting up in February.

Brandt’s adopted sister Marissa was born in Korea and will represent the host country.

Russia wins on home ice

Some of the nations ranked behind these four teams played the Halloween Cup in Dmitrov in the Moscow Region. Host Russia ended up on top of the standings before Switzerland same as one year ago when the tournament was hosted in Germany.

Russia had a strong start with wins against the Czech Republic (3-1) and Germany (6-1) before facing Switzerland on the last day, which also had six points from its games against Germany (5-2) and the Czechs (1-0).

After a scoreless opening frame it was Anna Shokhina, who opened the scoring for Russia three minutes into the second period. With 2:48 left before the intermission Lyudmila Belyakova made it 2-0 and midway the third period the Russians captialized on a power play with the 3-0 marker from Lidia Malyavko.

Denmark succeeds in OT

Denmark beat host Hungary 4-3 in overtime to win the Four Nations tournament in Miskolc. Both teams entered the last day with two regulation-time wins and Denmark went off to a strong start in a game they dominated with 40-20 shots on goal but was not rewarded at first.

Fanni Gasparics gave Hungary the lead at 11:35 on a 5-on-3 power play before Michele Brix Nielsen tied it up before the intermission. The Danes got the lead first time at 17:57 of the second period with a Josefine Jakobsen goal but Averi Nooren tied it up for Hungary early in the third. Also a 3-2 lead for Denmark after a marker from Silke Glud didn’t last long. Alexandra Huszak scored with 3:02 left in regulation time to force overtime. 2:11 into the extra period Jakbsen scored the tournament-winning goal.

Olympic host Korea, which has played in the fourth tier of the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program, for the first time played in this tournament. It was at a higher level than they’re used to and while the team started with two losses against Hungary (3-1) and Denmark (4-1), the Asians had a feeling of success on the last day when they beat France 3-1 – especially considering that France, winless this year, won the tournament one year ago and is ranked nine spots ahead of Korea in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking. After an early French lead it was Jingyu Lee, Selin Kim and Suyeong Eom, who scored for the Koreans.

In other tests by women’s senior national teams Slovakia won two games in Katowice against host Poland while Norway won two games in Finland against club teams from the top league.

Four Nations Cup in the U.S.      
7 Nov   Wesley Chapel (USA) Canada Sweden 9-0
7 Nov   Wesley Chapel (USA) USA Finland 8-2
8 Nov.   Wesley Chapel (USA) Finland Sweden 3-1
8 Nov.   Wesley Chapel (USA) USA Canada 4-2
10 Nov.   Wesley Chapel (USA) Canada Finland 4-0
10 Nov.   Wesley Chapel (USA) USA Sweden 5-0
12 Nov.   Tampa (USA) Finland Sweden 2-1
12 Nov.   Tampa (USA) USA Canada 5-1
           
Standings: 1. USA, 2. Canada, 3. Finland, 4. Sweden    
           
Halloween Cup in Russia      
9 Nov.   Dmitrov (RUS) Switzerland Germany 5-2
9 Nov.   Dmitrov (RUS) Russia Czech Rep. 3-1
10 Nov.   Dmitrov (RUS) Czech Rep. Switzerland 0-1
10 Nov.   Dmitrov (RUS) Germany Russia 1-6
11 Nov.   Dmitrov (RUS) Czech Rep. Germany 0-1 OT
11 Nov.   Dmitrov (RUS) Russia Switzerland 3-0
           
Standings: 1. Russia 9, 2. Switzerland 6, 3. Germany 2, 4. Czech Rep. 1  
           
Four Nations Tournament in Hungary    
10 Nov.   Miskolc (HUN) France Denmark 1-7
10 Nov.   Miskolc (HUN) Hungary Korea 3-1
11 Nov.   Miskolc (HUN) Denmark Korea 4-1
11 Nov.   Miskolc (HUN) France Hungary 0-5
12 Nov.   Miskolc (HUN) Korea France 3-1
12 Nov.   Miskolc (HUN) Denmark Hungary 4-3 OT
           
Standings: 1. Denmark 8, 2. Hungary 7, 3. Korea 3, 4. France 0  
           
Other games:      
11 Nov.   Katowice (POL) Poland Slovakia 1-2
11 Nov.   Tampere (FIN) Ilves Norway 3-4 OT
12 Nov.   Katowice (POL) Poland Slovakia 3-5
12 Nov.   Helsinki (FIN) Espoo Norway 5-6 SO

 

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