Women’s Hockey Update: Feb. 14, 2017
More international hockey on tap in this update! While the victorious Universiade national teams were returning home, a women’s tournament in Finland was getting underway with Russian respresentation. A full update on how that went is ahead, along with some quick previews of upcoming league action and a note from North America. Read on!
The Russian women’s national team was in action this past weekend, taking on hosts Finland twice and Sweden once in a three-nations tournament. Team Russia, with most of its key members resting up after winning gold at Universiade, was led by Under-18 coach Yevgeny Bobariko, and in fact was made up this time of a fair chunk of the U18 squad with a few veterans along as well.
The team’s makeshift nature and lack of experience certainly showed on the scoreboard. Despite grabbing an early lead, the Russians ended up thoroughly trounced by Finland in the opener, 7-2. That result was followed up by a 4-0 loss to Sweden. And the second matchup against Finland went no better than the first; 7-1 for the home side was the final. Tatyana Shatalova, Yekaterina Lebedeva, and Yekaterina Solovyeva scored Russia’s goals over the weekend, while Nadezhda Alexandrova and Valeriya Merkusheva shared the goaltending duties. The latter two were particularly busy, as Russia was outshot heavily in all three games.
So, a disappointing weekend, although the inexperienced (at this level) lineup mitigates things somewhat. Next up for the women’s national side is the World Championship, for which the big stars will most certainly be on the roster. The 2017 Women’s Worlds will take place in Plymouth, Michigan, beginning on March 31st.
With international play finished for now, the Women’s Hockey League gets back to work starting tomorrow. The 2016-17 season is into the home stretch, and Tornado Moscow Oblast, current league-leaders by 11 points, will continue their hunt for a third consecutive championship by visiting Krasnoyarsk to play three games against Biryusa. Dynamo St. Petersburg, meanwhile, are almost assured of a podium finish, and will host SKIF Nizhny Novgorod for a trio of matches. SK Sverdlovsk Oblast will be at home to Arktik-Universitet Ukhta in the other series that begins tomorrow; while SKSO remain winless on the season, they have come close a few times, and the Ukhta side will need to be on its guard.
The third meeting between Biryusa and Tornado in Krasnoyarsk, on February 18th, will be of particular interest, as it marks Russia’s first-ever participation in the IIHF’s Global Girls’ Game. This “game” is made up of a number of women’s hockey matches played around the world; the teams in each are designated as “Blue” and “White,” and the final result is the total score from all the matches (no word yet on which of Biryusa and Tornado will be Blue, and which White). Thirty-seven countries will take part in the 2017 Global Girls’ Game, which will begin in Malaysia on February 18th and, 43 hours later, finish up in Canada.
We are also on the verge of more action in the amateur League of Women’s Hockey. This circuit features four geographic groups, with teams in each seeking to qualify for the national amateur championship tournament in Sochi later this spring. Group Г will hold their second qualifying tournament starting on Saturday in Kazan, with Malakhit Yekaterinburg topping the table from the first tournament back in late November. Group B play their second tournament starting on February 23rd in Novokuznetsk, while the second meetings of Group Б will begin on March 11th in St. Petersburg.
Group A, incidentally, is composed entirely of Moscow and area teams, and so does not need to play a “tournament-based” format; that group’s schedule is a lot like an ordinary regular season. Grad-1 Moscow currently lead in the standings with five wins from five games and a goal difference of +57. Last season saw Grad-1 become the inaugural winners of the national amateur women’s championship, and they certainly seem well on their way to winning it again.
A final note from Canadian university women’s hockey: the Canada West conference wrapped up its regular season this past week. 2016-17 was not a successful campaign for the University of Calgary Dinosaurs; with a record of 5-23, they finished seventh out of eight in Canada West and missed the playoffs. However, forward Alexandra “Sasha” Vafina, part of the gold medal Universiade Russian team, had herself a decent enough season. She led the Dinos in both goals and points, with line of 23 gp, 6-7-13.
That’s it for this week! Next week will feature updates on what has gone on in the Russian women’s leagues, both professional and amateur, plus whatever else may crop up in the meantime. Thank you for reading!