Russians off to semis
Russians off to semis
Perfect record continues with 2-1 win vs. SUI
The win puts Russia in the semi-finals and sends the Swiss, bronze medal winners a year ago, to the 5th-place game.
The win continues the amazing turnaround of a Russian team that lost all five games it played last year and had a goals ratio of 8:35.
"We have a lot of drive and motivation with the Olympics coming to Russia," said Yekaterina Pashkevich, at 40 years of age the grand dame of the Women's Worlds. "The goals are set pretty high for our team and our expectations are high. We took a new approach this year. We got new coaches, made plans for each player to elevate their skills. It was a lot of hard work for this year, but it’s paying off."
"We're very disappointed," said Phoebe Stanz, the best player on the ice tonight. "I felt we were confident. We could have won this game. We should have won this game."
The first period was dominated by the Russians in terms of puck possession and territorial play, but the only goal of the opening 20 minutes came on a bad goal allowed by the usually impervious Florence Schelling. Tatyana Burina had the puck in the corner and simply snapped a shot into the crease. The puck hit Schelling’s left skate and dribbled over the line.
The Swiss, who have had terrible troubles scoring, had their best pressure of the entire tournament late in the period. For two minutes they moved the puck around with confidence, created several good scoring chances, and looked to be every bit the equal of the Russians.Continue reading
After taking the first half of the middle period off to watch Schelling make several great saves, the Swiss continued to move their legs. Schelling stopped Iya Gavrilova on a breakaway, kicked out a superb deflection from Burina, and stoned Lyudmila Belyakova from in close.
Then Stanz went to work. The diminutive Swiss forward skated like the wind all night long and was the most dangerous player on either side. Late in the period she spotted Sara Benz open in front, and Benz redirected the puck past a surprised Nadezhda Alexandrova at 16:57.
This was the first goal Alexandrova surrendered in the tournament, a period of 116:41 over three games. The Swiss, however, scored only their second goal in four games but were full measure for the 1-1 tie after two periods.
They were probably the better team in the third, but Smolentseva got the only goal on a fine rush down the left side. She cut in on goal, and although Schelling made the first save, Smolentseva managed to nudge the puck in on a nice second effort.
And now Russia is off to the semi-finals looking to win its first medal since 2001 when it won bronze.
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