A Short, Pre-Worlds, Women’s Hockey Update
Here we are, literally on the eve of the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship! And it will be a full tournament, the US team having sorted out its differences with USA Hockey and come away with a much more equitable deal than they had in place previously. As for Team Russia, we took a look at their roster right here the other day, and I would invite to check out other previews of the squad here and here. And read on, for some brief news of how the team’s preparations have gone since then, and an interesting Women’s Hockey League note!
Russia’s goal coming into this tournament, of course, is defence of bronze medal won last year in Canada. And they will want to see what progress has been made in getting the Russian program closer to even with the titans of the women’s game, the United States and Canada.
Russia had only one pre-tournament game, on Tuesday against Switzerland, and it must be said that it went very poorly indeed for head coach Alexei Chistyakov’s troops. A lack of discipline was a major problem, as team captain Olga Sosina as well as Anna Shokhina were expelled for various mis-deeds, and nine minor penalties were taken on top of that. Switzerland got two powerplay goals from Evaline Raselli en route to a 4-0 victory in the match. Said Shokhina afterwards: “There were a lot of defects in our game,” and indeed, the tape will not have made pleasant viewing for the coaching staff.
Even worse, Sosina and Shokhina will miss the first game of the tournament proper, against Finland on Friday at 4:00 pm ET, as both are suspended one match for the game misconducts against Switzerland. The two are among Russia’s most dangerous scoring threats, and their absence will certainly be felt very keenly. The two will be back when Russia’s tournament continues on Saturday with an afternoon game against the host Americans, followed by the final Group A game on Monday against Canada.
Barring a major upset, Russia will likely finish third or fourth in Group A, bringing up a Tuesday quarterfinal date with the second- or first-place team in Group B (Czechia, Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany make up that group).
One interesting tidbit of Women’s Hockey League news this week: it appears that forward Fanuza Kadirova, after a season that she described as “difficult,” may be leaving Arktik-Universitet Ukhta, where she has played since 2013. Arktik-Universitet finished sixth in the seven-team league this season, with a record of 12-24.
The 18-year-old Kadirova, a native of Tatarstan, has posted 84 points in 60 games over the last two seasons for Arktik-Universitet, leading the club in scoring both times, and has featured internationally for both the U18 and senior Russian teams (she is indeed part of the group assembled in Michigan at the moment). Clearly, she will be much in demand should she decide to leave Ukhta, although she appeared to rule out a move to North America, saying “I am not yet the sort of player to go there.”
And that is about it for this post! We will update the World Championship after the group stage is over, but in meantime, thank you for reading!