International Ice Hockey Federation

Sweden takes bronze

Russians fall, 2-1, in goalies' battle

Published 15.01.2016 19:00 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Sweden takes bronze
ST. CATHARINES, CANADA - JANUARY 15: Team Sweden show off their bronze medals after defeating Team Russia 2-1 at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Sweden won WW18 bronze for the fifth time in the nine years of the event, defeating Russia, last year’s third-place finishers, in a thrilling finale.

It was a game that promised to be an exciting, tightly-contested match, and it delivered in spades. Both goaltenders were sensational. Emma Soderberg stopped 26 of 27 shots for Sweden, and Valeria Tarakanova blocked 30 of 32 for Russia.

"We played really well in the beginning," Soderberg enthused. "In the end, we played a better game. We kept their players to the outside and we skated more. I think we wanted it more than they did."

Tarakanova agreed. "We didn't play as well as they did. I think they had more desire to win than we did."

Celine Tedenby and Sara Hjalmarsson were the goalscorers for the victors while Daria Beloglazova scored the lone Russian goal late in the third.

Sweden played a solid game yesterday against the U.S. in a 4-0 loss and clearly used that performance as a springboard to today’s team effort. Russia, on the other hand, failed to create many scoring chances as captain Fanuza Kadirova was held mostly in check for the second straight day.

"After our late semi-finals game yesterday, we didn't really have enough time to prepare," said Russian coach Alexander Ulyankin. 

And, penalties played a role in the game, both in giving Sweden its first goal and in often derailing momentum for the Russians during the first 40 minutes.

Sweden opened the scoring with the extra man at 5:01 of the first period. Tedenby took a nice pass from Jessica Adolfsson in the slot and rifled an accurate shot to the short side of Tarakanova.

The Swedes  made it 2-0 at 13:03 off the rush. Hjalmarsson, a star in the making, flew up the ice and used a Russian defender as a screen, releasing a hard shot that fooled Tarakanova.

"I couldn't see the shot at all," the goalie acknowledged. "I couldn't tell what the shooter was doing."

The scoreless second was dominated by Sweden, which outshot its opponents by a 17-5 count. As well, Russia took three of four penalties in the period.

The Russians came out with a final push in the third, peppering Emma Soderberg with quality shots, but the goalie was at her best.

"I challenged our leaders," Ulyankin explained of his team's dominance in the third. "I asked them what they're playing for. We're playing for our country, for all of Russia."

Finally, though, at 15:33, she failed to control a Kadirova shot off the rush, and Beloglazova connected on the rebound.

Moments later, Wilma Johansson had a clean breakaway, but Tarakanova came up big in the Russian goal to keep it a 2-1 game. Despite a feverish push, the Russians couldn't tie the game with Tarakanova on the bench in the final minute.

Sweden finsihed the tournament with a record of 4-2, scoring 18 goals and allowing 11. Russia finished a disappointing 2-4, scoring only nine goals and allowing 19.

"We have a great group of players with a lot of skill,"Jessica Adolfsson noted. "Every individual has something to bring to the group. I think we should have dominated, and we did. The goals came, and we played really well. That's what we were here for. It feels amazing. We played with our hearts, and that's all that counts."