Russia began its quest for a medal on home ice with a come-from-behind 4-1 win over a plucky German squad.
Sport: Women’s Hockey
Event: Russia vs. Germany
Score: Russia 4 – Germany 1
What happened: Whatever the Russian coaches said to their team during the second intermission worked wonders.
Russia reeled off four goals in the final stanza to secure an important opening-game win against a German team that had stolen the lead on a soft goal in the second.
The home team started off the game strongly, peppering German goalie Viona Harrer with 10 shots and creating numerous scoring chances with sustained pressure. But two Russian power plays couldn’t break through a bunker defense and with only four shots mustered by the Germans, the opening period ended scoreless.
Though the ice seemed tilted toward Russia to start the second, a long shot by Franziska Busch slipped past the glove hand of Russian goalie (and birthday girl) Yulia Leskina to give the Germans a surprise 1-0 lead. Busch skated into the zone uncontested and launched a high shot toward net. Rather than let the puck come to her, Leskina stabbed at it, twisting her glove toward the puck, which nicked off the leather and dipped into the net. With the goal, the Russian momentum came to a halt.
The goal indeed brought the German side to life as they upped their shots to 10 in the second. Despite several odd-man chances for both teams – including an open-net 3-on-2 chance by Russia, neither team could hit the twine during the remainder of the second period.
Russia started off the third with renewed vigor and a breakaway that was turned aside by Harrer. The increased pressure by the home team paid off six minutes in as forward Iya Gavrilova tied the game on a wraparound goal that just sneaked under Harrer’s pads. Three minutes later a Russian power play would put the home team ahead for good. A poor-angle slap shot from Olga Sosina deflected off the stomach of German defender Andrea Lanzl and bounced into the net to give the Russians a 2-1 lead.
The Russians would whip the home crowd into a frenzy seconds later as Russian captain Yekaterina Smolentseva capitalized on a two-on-one, slipping the puck five-hole on Harrer to take a two-goal advantage. With two goals in 38 seconds and three goals in 4:23, Russia had clenched an iron fist on the momentum.
Sosina would finish off the Germans with her second of the game three minutes later on a power play. A hard shot from the point was tipped by Sosina and well saved by Harrer, but the tired, shell-shocked German defense failed to clear Sosina out of the crease and she was able to push the rebound into the net.
A final score of 4-1 puts the Russians in prime position to move into the next round; Sweden will be a tough test, though they should be able to get by Japan. Meanwhile Germany must find a way to put more shots on net (just one in the 3rd) if they hope to win enough games to secure the top-six finish they need to retain funding from their federation.
Next up for Russia is Japan, while Germany will face Sweden. Both games are slated for Tuesday, February 11.