The Four Nations Tournament with four of the top women’s hockey nations ended with the same final ranking as one year ago and Team USA as winner.
The preliminary round played at three Finnish venues ended without upsets. The two North American teams didn’t have much trouble with the Europeans while host Finland and Sweden had to play for bronze.
Canada finished the preliminary round on top after beating Team USA 3-2 thanks to Haley Irwin’s game winner in the third period and despite the Americans’ 32-17 shot-on-goal advantage.
The Americans were again dominant in the gold medal game with a 29-16 shot record but this time Team USA capitalized better on its chances. After Marie-Philip Poulin’s opening marker for Canada, Emily Pfalzer and Hilary Knight made it a 2-1 lead for the U.S. late in the first period.
After a scoreless middle frame Laura Stacey tied things up for Canada at 5:50 of the third period but Team USA reacted immediately. After 53 seconds Brianna Decker, who was the tournament scoring leader with two goals and seven points, regained the lead for the Americans and three minutes later Knight made it 4-2 with her second goal of the day. Kelli Stack scored the 5-2 goal at 11:47 to give the reigning world champions a three-goal cushion.
“I’m very proud of the team and their overall effort in a well-deserved victory,” said Team USA head coach Ken Klee. “We played a very complete game, used our speed and creativity to generate chances that we converted on when we needed to for a big win.”
Canada’s Poulin scored her second goal with 40 seconds left and goalie Emerance Maschmeyer pulled for the final score of 5-3.
“I think we learned a lot as a group this week; we had a lot of new girls come in but as a group we played well. What we really need to learn coming away from this is playing a full 60-minute game and being consistent,” said Canada’s alternate captain Laura Fortino. “We need to really buy into the systems and trust in those, especially playing against the United States, because every shift counts and we need to bring that work ethic and commitment every single time.”
After beating Sweden already in the group stage, the Finns edged their neighbouring rival in the bronze medal game with the same score, 2-1. All goals happened in the middle frame in which Sara Karna gave Finland the lead at 1:57. Following the goal the Swedes had three power plays and third time was a charm with Lisa Johansson’s goal to tie the game at one.
Late in the period Sweden was assessed two tripping penalties and Venla Hovi scored the game-winning goal with eight seconds left before the buzzer. Comeback lady Noora Raty had a strong day in the Finnish net with 19 saves from 20 Swedish shots on goal while her Swedish counterpart Sara Grahn was first in save percentage throughout the tournament with 93.75.
The other four top-division teams played at the Halloween Cup in Fussen, Germany, and Russia confirmed its role as favourite. They started the event with a 7-3 victory against the hosts and beat the Czechs 3-1 to set up a final with Switzerland, which beat the Czech Republic 5-4 in a shootout and blanked Germany 2-0.
It was a clash between the best teams of the event and some of the best scorers as Russia’s Anna Shokhina won the scoring race with seven points (3+4) while Switzerland’s Alina Muller scored five goals in three games. But in the first period it was Fanuza Kadirova, who was in the spotlight. The 18-year-old native of Kukmor, Tatarstan, scored two goals midway the first period and at 7:02 of the second period Olga Sosina made it a three-goal lead with her power-play marker.
Switzerland found back into the game late in the second period with goals from Nina Waidacher and Sarah Forster, and at 6:14 of the third period Isabel Waidacher tied the game at three. However, Sosina with her second marker of the day scored the game-winning goal for Russia at 10:58.
The Czechs finished the tournament in third place after beating Germany 2-1 in the last game.
In another tournament including four national teams playing in the two tiers below France won all games in Budapest while host Hungary finished in second place ahead of Denmark and winless Norway. Russian U18 team sweeps on home ice
An U18 women’s tournament with some of the top European countries took place in Dmitrov in the Moscow Region and ended with Russia winning on home ice.
The Russians had a great start blanking eventual runner-up Finland 4-0 in front of 1,560 fans and beat Germany by the same result one day later. It was tighter in the last game against Sweden, which remained in the race for tournament win as well. Alyona Starovoitova gave Russia the lead with two goals midway through the game. The Swedes battled until the end of the game but Russian goalie Valeria Merkusheva was strong and the Swedes didn’t get more than Maja Nyhlen-Persson’s 2-1 goal with 2:04 left in regulation time.
The Russians won the tournament and had the top-four scorers including Tatyana Shatalova as scoring leader (2+3=5) and Starovoitova (3+1=4) as top goal scorer.
Finland beat Sweden 2-1 thanks to Kiia Nousiainen’s OT winner to claim second place ahead of their Nordic rivals and winless Germany.
In another tournament Slovakia won its home tournament in Prievidza. After starting with a 12-2 win over Italy the Slovaks surprised against the only top-division country at the event and beat Switzerland 3-1 before ending the tournament with a 3-2 overtime victory against Austria.
The line with Rahel Enzler (1+6), Lisa Ruedi (3+3) and Noemi Ryhner (4+1) shone for Switzerland and claimed the top-three spots in scoring but didn’t manage to beat Slovak goalie Adriana Stofankova more than once.
MARTIN MERK Four Nations Tournament in Finland
30 Oct.: Finland v Canada (exh.) 1-4
1 Nov.: Sweden v USA 0-6
1 Nov.: Finland v Canada 0-3
2 Nov.: Canada v Sweden 3-1
2 Nov.: Finland v USA 0-4
4 Nov.: Finland v Sweden 2-1
4 Nov.: USA v Canada 2-3
5 Nov.: Finland v Sweden (3rd) 2-1
5 Nov.: Canada v USA (1st) 3-5
Standings: 1. USA, 2. Canada, 3. Finland, 4. SwedenHalloween Cup in Germany
3 Nov.: Switzerland v Czech Rep. 5-4 SO
3 Nov.: Germany v Russia 3-7
4 Nov.: Russia v Czech Rep. 3-1
4 Nov.: Germany v Switzerland 0-2
5 Nov.: Russia v Switzerland 4-3
5 Nov.: Germany v Czech Rep. 1-2
Standings: 1. Russia 9, 2. Switzerland 5, 3. Czech Rep. 4, 4. Germany 0Four Nations Tournament in Hungary
4 Nov.: France v Denmark 1-0
4 Nov.: Norway v Hungary 1-4
5 Nov.: Denmark v Norway 4-0
5 Nov.: France v Hungary 4-1
6 Nov.: Norway v France 1-5
6 Nov.: Denmark v Hungary 3-4
Standings: 1. France 9, 2. Hungary 6, 3. Denmark 3, 4. Norway 0Other games:
6 Nov.: Austria v Slovakia 3-4U18 Women's Four Nations Tournament in Russia
4 Nov.: Germany v Sweden 0-3
4 Nov.: Russia v Finland 4-0
5 Nov.: Sweden v Finland 1-2 OT
5 Nov.: Germany v Russia 0-4
6 Nov.: Finland v Germany 3-0
6 Nov.: Russia v Sweden 2-1
Standings: 1. Russia 9, 2. Sweden 6, 3. Finland 3, 4. Germany 0U18 Women's Four Nations Tournament in Slovakia
4 Nov.: Austria v Switzerland 2-4
4 Nov.: Slovakia v Italy 12-2
5 Nov.: Italy v Austria 1-5
5 Nov.: Slovakia v Switzerland 3-1
6 Nov.: Switzerland v Italy 5-2
6 Nov.: Slovakia v Austria 3-2 OT
Standings: 1. Slovakia 8, 2. Switzerland 6, 3. Austria 4, 4. Italy 0