International Ice Hockey Federation

USA punishes host

USA punishes host

Four PP goals sink Russia

Published 07.01.2018 19:45 GMT+4 | Author Andy Potts
USA punishes host
DMITROV, RUSSIA - JANUARY 7: USA's Hannah Bilka #24 scores on Russia's Milena Tretyak #30 while her teammate Yelena Provorova #26 looks on during preliminary round action at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Russia came back down to Earth after its win over Canada, allowing four power play goals in the first period of its 3-5 loss against the USA.

Team USA brought its hottest power play to move to the top of Group A with a 5-3 win over Russia in Dmitrov.

Russia’s surprise victory over Canada on the opening day had blown the competition wide open, and another big crowd came to the arena in Moscow Region hoping for another giant-killing. But the huge effort that the home team put into that first game took its toll in a first period where the Russians were hampered by a steady string of minor penalties and struggled to keep pace with the US power play.

American captain Taylor Heise, looking to complete a hat-trick of Women’s U18 World Championship gold medal campaigns here, was instrumental in her team’s flying start. In the fourth minute she opened the scoring, taking the puck from the boards to the net and ripping in a shot from a tight angle as Russia sat out its first penalty. Barely a minute later, the captain was driving forward again before feeding Dominique Petrie for a shot. That effort was blocked, but in the resultant scramble the puck dropped for Britta Curl to make it 2-0.

"Those early goals were super important," Heise said. "We came out super aggressive because we know they are a good team. We came out with the intensity and all the drive and determination that we had to win the game. Those early goals just made it easier to keep rolling our lines."

Against Sweden, the Americans had problems getting the puck in the net. Here, though, it seemed that the rebounds were falling kindly for the forwards. Russia was not without its chances, though, and an 85-second spell of 5-on-3 play offered a way back for the host. Again, Heise was impressive, playing through the whole PK and finishing her shift with an unlikely breakout that almost produced a short-handed goal.

Home frustrations increased as a third American power play brought a third goal, Margaret Nicholson getting the touch on a Hadley Hartmetz thunderbolt from the blue line. And when the USA got a two-player advantage it was no surprise that fourth goal soon followed as Hannah Bilka tucked away the rebound after Gracie Ostertag drew a pad save from Milena Tretyak.

At 0-4, the fervent home support showed a few signs of flagging, but Heise was excited about the atmosphere she and her team-mates faced. "It was awesome!" she said. "We got out there and there were so many people against us, so we said to ourselves we had to pretend that the noise was for us. They are trying to go against us, but we just keep rolling with it every time."

In the Russian camp, though, head coach Yevgeni Bobariko was frustrated by what he saw. "In the first period, the USA came out with some very fast, very aggressive hockey and we just weren't ready for it," he said. "I have to take full responsibility for this loss because I couldn't prepare my team to cope with that kind of hockey." 

In the second period Russia rebounded, cutting out those needless penalties and offering fewer opportunities for the US offence. And, after giving up so many power play goals, the Russians grabbed one of their own when Ilona Markova deflected a Yelena Provorova shot past Calla Frank. But there was no prospect of a fightback, even though that goal re-energised the home crowd. Curl got her second of the evening, reacting fastest to beat Russia’s replacement goalie Diana Farkhutdinova after a Petrie shot flashed wide and got caught up beside the post.

The third period began with a string of Russian power plays, and the home team grabbed a second goal when Anastasia Pestova forced home the rebound from Polina Luchnikova’s shot. Then came a  double American penalty, giving Russia two minutes with a two-player advantage. Not surprisingly, Heise had another captain’s contribution on the penalty kill, blocking a shot before setting out on a lung-busting surge up the ice to eat up vital seconds.

Russia closed the gap to two goals when Anastasia Medvedeva fired home from the blue line on a five-on-three power play for the home team to give a little hope to the crowd with just under four minutes to play. But the USA closed out the remaining penalty and avoided any further alarms in the closing seconds of the game.

 

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