In this season’s first tournament of the women’s Euro Hockey Tour, Finland took eight of nine possible points over three games in Hodonin, Czech Republic.
The Finns won all three of their games over the weekend, starting with a 2-1 overtime victory over Sweden, followed by regulation victories over the Czechs and Russians by 3-2 and 3-1 scores. Sweden placed second with four points, while the host Czechs and Russians had three each.
Finland entered play on Saturday needing only a single point against Russia to secure top spot. Instead, they took all three, with Jenni Hiirikoski breaking the scoreless tie with two goals 1:28 apart midway through the second period. Finland eventually won 3-1 with goaltender Noora Raty stopping 26 of 27 shots. Raty was especially busy in the third period, when the Russians had two 5-on-3 advantages but were unable to score.
Overall, Raty’s 95.12 save percentage and 0.98 goals-against average over two games led the tournament in both categories. Raty, 29, is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist and is about to enter her second season with Chinese club Kunlun Red Star in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
Later in the day, the Czechs could have secured second place with just one point against Sweden, but fell 4-2 and finished tied for third, while the Swedes vaulted ahead of both the Czechs and Russians thanks to a two-goal effort in the game from 16-year-old centre Lina Ljungblom.
The overall top scorer of the tournament was Katerina Mrazova with three goals and three assists for six points. The 25-year-old Czech forward, who will play the coming season with the Connecticut Whale of the National Women’s Hockey League, was followed by fellow Czech forward Aneta Ledlova and Russian defender Anna Shukina, who had five points each.
The women’s Euro Hockey Tour has been extended this year to more events and more countries with the goal to help European teams better compete against Canada and the United States at the Women’s Worlds. The 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship will be held in Espoo, Finland from 4th to 14th April.
The women’s Euro Hockey Tour is a six-team season-long event that also includes Germany and Switzerland. The tour will continue with stops in Switzerland in November, Finland in December, and concludes with a six-team tournament in Dmitrov, Russia in February. Other games throughout the season involving the participating national teams will also be counted in the standings.