International Ice Hockey Federation

U.S. starts with a bang

U.S. starts with a bang

Birthday girl Barnes nets two in 6-1 win

Published 07.01.2017 18:19 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
U.S. starts with a bang
ZLIN, CZECH REPUBLIC - JANUARY 7: USA's Anneke Linser #20 looks on as Natalie Heising #25 (not pictured) scores on Russia's Diana Farkhutdinova #1 during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The United States began defence of its U18 women’s gold medal with a sound and speedy 6-1 win over Russia at the PSG Arena in Zlin this afternoon.

Captain Cayla Barnes, celebrating her 18th birthday, scored twice for the victors.

Although the Russians put up a valiant fight in their own end, they were unable to generate many scoring chances that tested U.S. goalie Alex Gulstene to any great degree. Shots favoured the Americans, 39-15.

"We started off a little slowly," Barnes noted, "but once we got in our groove the goals started coming. It was a good way to start the tournament, and it was nice to help the team with two goals."

"It was a tough game, but we did our best," said Russian captain Nina Pirogova. "We didn't have a good start, and we didn't play as the coaches expected, but I think we'll be better tomorrow against Canada."

The Americans got the only two goals of the opening period thanks to their speed and puck pursuit. Maureen Murphy opened the scoring at 8:14 when she snapped a shot over the glove of Diana Farkhutdinova.

Just 34 seconds later it was 2-0 thanks to the persistence of Natalie Heising. Her first shot was stopped by Farkhutdinova, but no one checked her and she drilled the rebound between the goalies pads.

The U.S. had a great chance to increase its lead late in the period with a two-man advantage for 55 seconds, but the Russians defence, and some fine goaltending by Farkhutdinova, kept it a 2-0 game.

Barnes made it 3-0 just 55 seconds into the second when her high shot in the slot hit the crossbar and dropped in behind the goal line. 

"The coahces have been telling us to move the puck from defenceman to defenceman and then go to open ice," Barnes described. "Russia was running a trap and I saw a lane, so I took it. I got a shot away and it hit something and went in."

Taylor Wente added a fourth goal at 11:43 when she skated hard down the right wing and popped a quick shot high over Farkhutdinova’s glove. 

Barnes got her second of the night on a power play, sneaking in from the back side and one-timing a nice pass from Helsing over the glove of Valeria Merkusheva who took over for Farkhutdinova to start the period.

"That was a great play by Natalie to see that play back door," Barnes said. "It was an amazing play by her."

Anneke Linser rounded out the U.S. scoring with a goal late in the third.

The Russians broke Gulstene's shutout with a goal by Daria Beloglazova 26.7 seconds from the end of time.

"This is a different team from last year," Barnes said, "but our goal is the same--to win gold. We flow well together. We watched the U.S. win gold at the World Juniors, and we're hoping to do the same."


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