International Ice Hockey Federation

Canada takes bronze

Canada takes bronze

Guay stars in 5-1 win over Russia

Published 13.01.2018 19:56 GMT+4 | Author Andy Potts
Canada takes bronze
DMITROV, RUSSIA - JANUARY 13: Canada's Sarah Fillier #19 holding the third place trophy and teammates are all smiles after a 5-1 bronze medal game win against Russia at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Canada ensured it departed from Russia with a medal after defeating a tired host nation in the bronze medal game. Alexie Guay led the scoring with 1+2.

Canada claimed the bronze medal at the 2018 Women’s U18 World Championship in Dmitrov with a comfortable win over a visibly drained Russian team. Alexie Guay had a goal and two assists for Canada, making her the most productive defender of the tournament ahead of Saturday night’s Gold Medal Game.

The host was left shattered by its semi-final loss against Sweden less than 24 hours earlier and, despite the support of another big crowd, struggled to get its game going against a team it sensationally beat a week ago at the start of the tournament.

That result was a shock for Canada, and today's game underlined the progress the group had made together. Captain Sarah Fillier, Princeton-bound next season as her junior career comes to an end, was counting the positives at the end.

"We didn't leave with the colour of medal we wanted, but it's been a really great experience with the girls," she said. "We always stuck together, even we faced some adversity at the start against Russia. The whole thing was a great journey for our team."

That opening game began with Russia blazing out of the traps from the first seconds, putting the Canadian defence under unaccustomed pressure and forcing the North Americans on to the back foot. Today, though, that same energy was lacking. Despite an early chance for Maria Alexandrova, the star of the quarter-final success against Finland, Canada swiftly took control. Russia was limited to just three shots on Madelyn McArthur’s net in the first period as the Canadians dictated much of the play.

The opening goal had been coming for a little while when Canada took the lead just before the first intermission. A well-worked power play kept Russia pegged back and after the puck looped up in front of Diana Farkhutdinova’s net, Guay swatted it down for Julia Gosling to score at the far post.

That set Canada on its way to a win that underlined the progress head coach Delaney Collins talked about. "These short tournaments are always difficult," she said. "When you lose the first game, it's easy to start questioning yourself and I thought we sat back after that Russia result and hesitated to play our natural game. But we definitely got better and better - our best games were our last two, and we gave the USA everything we could - so overall we're really happy with our bronze medals."

Guay made herself the most productive defender in the tournament with another helper as Canada went up 2-0 in the second period. This time she did the hard work around the back, holding off Irina Kuligina’s challenge before feeding Audrey-Anne Veillette out in front for the finish. That play moved Guay on to 0+6 for the championship; ahead of the gold medal game, Russia’s Yulia Provorova’s three-point haul was the next best among the players in Group A.

An error on a Russian power play handed Canada a third goal midway through the game. Abygail Moloughney intercepted a stray pass on her own blue line and set off to the races. Farkhutdinova seemed unsure whether to stay home or go to meet her, and was caught out of position as the shot ripped over her glove on its way to the top corner.

"The girls did all they could, but it was so tough - both physically and mentally - to get prepared for this game after losing to Sweden," Russia's head coach Yevgeni Bobariko said. "Right now, I'm really disappointed that we couldn't win a medal for our fans here."

Russia’s plight got worse seconds into the final frame when Courtney Vorster put a slap shot into Farkhutdinova’s net from the blue line to claim a power play goal and turn the rest of the game into a damage-limitation exercise for the host. And when Guay added her first goal of the competition soon after, it felt like Russia’s encouraging tournament might come to a painful end.

But there was something for the home crowd to cheer at last with 10 minutes to play when Vita Ponyatovskaya got Russia on the scoreboard. The defender followed up well to score from the slot after Alexandrova and Oxana Bratisheva rushed the net.

As the youngest player on the roster, born in 2003, Ponyatovskaya could feature in three more U18 championships. And she was encouraged by the crowds that made this the best-supported U18 women's tournament played in Europe. "That was really powerful, seeing so many people in the arena," she said. "It's great that we could generate even more interest in women's hockey. Hopefully we can go on to make women's hockey even more popular here."

Bobariko also talked up his young prospect. "It wasn't at all easy for her to play at this level for the first time," he said. "But she's a good girl, a talented girl, and she really loves her hockey. She's got a great future ahead of her."

The Canadian victory maintains the country's record of medalling at every edition of this tournament. Russia, despite missing out on a repeat of last year's bronze in the Czech Republic, won many friends for its performances on the ice and the enthusiastic support for the competition throughout this week in Dmitrov.

Canadian coach Collins was warm in her praise for the way Russia had played and organised the tournament. "I think it was really good, not so much in terms of the results but in term of the growth of women's hockey," she said. "The city of Dmitrov and the Russian Hockey Federation put on an incredible tournament, the fans were proud and fantastic and we can't say enough about the whole experience.

"We'd like to congratulate Russia on the growth of its program and everything they have done to show they are an elite team, a team that has to be taken very seriously."

After the game, there were presentations for the three best players in the tournament from each team. Russia's trio was goalie Diana Farkhutdinova, forward Ilona Markova and defender Julia Provorova. The Canadian selection was defender Courtney Vorster, captain Sarah Fillier and forward Brooke McQuigge.


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