International Ice Hockey Federation

Canada survives scare

Canada survives scare

Russians were 2-2 in 3rd before falling, 4-2

Published 08.01.2017 18:31 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Canada survives scare
ZLIN, CZECH REPUBLIC - JANUARY 8: Canada's Alexa Vasko #11 celebrates her first period goal with teammates during preliminary round action against Russia at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Canada scored two goals in the third to break a 2-2 tie and defeat Russia in a game that was fiercely competitive throughout.

The score should come as lttile surprise. Although Canada had won all six previous meetings in WW18 play by a cumulative score of 22-8, there were several close games, notably a 1-0 overtime win in 2014 and a narrow 3-2 win in 2015.

Russian goalie Valeria Merkusheva was sensational in keeping the score close. The Canadians peppered her with 45 shots while facing only 14, but Amy Potomak and Brette Pettet managed to bang pucks by her in the third to create the margin of victory.

Potomak's goal came on the power play after three sparkling saves by Merkusheva, while Pettet's was a close-in shot off a scramble.

"It’s going to be hard to score pretty goals here, so one important thing for us is get to the net and pound pucks in," Pettet said. "It worked out for me at the end, which is great."

"We were faster on offense and played well defensively today compared to yesterday [6-1 loss to the U.S.], and, of course, we didn’t make as many bad mistakes as we did against the U.S.," Merkusheva noted. 

Indeed, both teams incurred only two minor penalties each. Yesterday, the Russians had five short-handed situations to deal with.

"They’re just a good team, plain and simple," said Canada's coach, Troy Ryan. "There’s not one thing in particular they did well today. They played well in the neutral zone. They play a 1-3-1 and try to clog things up. But they compete, play physical. We had the luxury of watching them play the U.S., so we knew what we were getting ourselves into."

Both teams have a day off before a critical final slate of games in the round robin. Canada will play the United States in one and Russia will face Sweden in the other. The top two teams in Group A get a bye directly to the semi-finals while the third and fourth teams play the top two teams in Group B (playing in Prerov) in the quarter-finals.

The first period for Russia today was much the same as yesterday against the U.S. They came out of it trailing, this time, 1-0, but they kept their opponents largely to the periphery and played a physical game.

The only goal was not a highlight-reel gem, but they all count. Alexa Vasko banged home a loose puck at 8:25 after goalie Merkusheva failed to cover up the initial shot. 

Shots favoured Canada, 15-2, and Edith D’Astous-Moreau had only two long shots to contend with.

But the Russians came out flying in the second, and they were rewarded for their skating and tenacious play. Alina Orlova’s long shot was tipped in front by Oxana Bratisheva at 4:17, tying the game.

More incredibly, the Russians took a 2-1 lead some four minutes later, executing a two-on-one perfectly. Alyona Starovoitova, a left-hand shot, skated down the right wing and instead of passing opted to shoot. She beat D’Astous-Moreau over the glove on the short side, stunning the Canadians.

This marked only the third time Russia has ever had a lead on Canada in WW18 play and it was the latest in a game as well. Both previous occasions (2010, 2015) were 1-0 leads in the first period.

Despite this moment of importance, Canada got down to business and tied the score a scant 38 seconds later. Gabrielle David’s shot was blocked by Merkusheva, but Audrey-Anne Veillette smacked in the rebound, her first goal in a Canada sweater. Captain Ashton Bell collected the puck for her, but Canada was in a fight.

The rest of the period was evenly played, and soon after a Russia power play almost resulted in a third goal and another lead.

As it stood, the Russians skated with the Canadians, blocked shots, and played an even game throughout. They lacked the necessary firepower to test D'Astous-Moreau regularly, but they sure gave Canada plenty to think about.

"I think both teams got off to a good start," Pettet summarized. "It was a physical game, but the biggest thing for us was getting better throughout the game, which I think we did. Hopefully we’ll do the same throughout the tournament."


Back to Overview