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Ice Hockey: University of Wisconsin Badgers beat Ohio State Buckeyes 1-0
Sports Desk ISLAMABAD: Kirsten Simms scored at 13:28 of the opening period and Cami Kronish stopped all 31 shots she faced to lead the Mark Johnson-coached University of Wisconsin Badgers to a 1-0 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the NCAA championship final Sunday afternoon at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minnesota. This marked the first ever 1-0 game since the NCAA introduced a national women’s championship in 2001, and only the sixth win by shutout. This was also the first time all season the Buckeyes were held without a goal. A native of Plymouth, Michigan, the 18-year-old Simms is a freshman. She won gold with the U.S. at the 2020 Women’s U18 and a silver two years later. The Buckeyes were defending champions after defeating the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, 3-2, for their first ever championship last year. The Buckeyes are coached by Nadine Muzerall, in her 7th season, and Swede Peter Elander is her assistant coach. For Johnson, this marks a true and remarkable dynasty as the Badgers have now won three of the last four national titles going back to 2019 (COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 tournament). Overall, they have now won seven, more than any other university. Natalie Buchbinder, Sophie Shirley, Britta Curl, and Kronish have played on all three championship teams under Johnson, and Kronish was named the top player of the Frozen Four this time ‘round. The Badgers got to the finals by defeating the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday night, 3-2, thanks to an overtime goal by Caroline Harvey. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, punched their ticket to the finals courtesy of a 3-0 win over Northeastern and a shutout from Amanda Thiele. Thiele stopped 20 of 21 shots against Wisconsin on Sunday, but that one shot from Simms proved to be the difference. (Thanks to Andrew Podnieks)
Belgian grab back-to-back gold in Ice Hockey World Championship
Sports Desk ISLAMABAD: Belgium’s women made it back-to-back gold after sweeping all-comers in Cape Town to win the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B. A year after taking a Covid-hampered Division IIIA, the Belgians secured another gold in impressive style in South Africa. The key game was against Australia, with Belgium grabbing a 1-0 victory against last year’s silver medallist. Goalie Nina van Orshaegen produced a fantastic performance, stopping 48 shots in a game that was dominated by the Aussies. Belgium was limited to just 12 shots on goal, but a power play goal from Femke Bosmans after 25 minutes made the difference. Van Orshaegen, 28, featured in all four of Belgium’s games. She finished with a GAA of 1.00 after giving up 3 goals in 180 minutes of game time. The Olen native, who plays her club hockey for Cold Play Sharks Mechelen in the German second division, also stopped 96.51% of the shots she faced. That form earned her the directorate award as leading goalie ahead of Australia’s Sasha King, who played 160 minutes and stopped 20 shots without allowing a single goal. Van Orshaegen played a leading role between the piping alongside understudy Charlotte Swinnen. Swinnen, 20, played three periods in total in Belgium’s wins over South Africa and Croatia, gaining experience of international play. Lotte de Guchtenaere was another key figure for Belgium. Her four goals in a 4-2 win over New Zealand wrapped up top spot with a game to spare. She finished with eight goals in the tournament, many of them assisted by line-mate and leading scorer Anke Steeno, who had 11 (2+9) points. Now Belgium is celebrating its first ever back-to-back gold medals in IIHF play. Meanwhile, promotion to Division IIA would put the Blades at their highest ever level in international women’s hockey. For Australia, the failure to break down Belgium’s defence proved costly. The top seed scored freely in its other games, putting 10 past South Africa and 19 past Croatia before winning a Southern Hemisphere showdown against New Zealand 5-2. However, after losing out to Iceland in a shootout last season, the Aussie Flyers once again suffered a narrow loss in a crucial game. The Australian team included two players from the gold-medal U18s team that won Division IIA last, with Molly Lukowiak and Katrina Rapchuk stepping up to the seniors here. Rapchuk, 15, made a good impression in her rookie championship and was named MVP for her team in the Belgium game. New Zealand, back in action after withdrawing from last season’s tournament in Zagreb, came closest to halting Belgium’s progress. The Ice Fernz got a 2-1 lead in the first period of the teams’ meeting, but a fine attacking display from Lotte de Guchtenaere scored twice in the middle frame to turn the game around. She finished with all four markers in a 4-2 victory. That denied the host nation a bronze medal, with New Zealand taking third place in the tournament. Defender Donne van Doesburgh won the directorate award for her position. Croatia, which came fifth on home ice a year ago, had another tough tournament and brought up the rear after again failing to win a game. Türkiye had to withdraw from the competition following the devastating earthquakes that hit the country earlier this month. Among the individual achievements, de Guchtenaere tied with Australia’s Michelle Clark-Crumpton on eight goals. The Belgian forward also got the nod as top forward in the competition. Sharna Godfrey was the leading scorer in the competition, with 14 (6+8) points, just ahead of Clark-Crumpton. Anke Steeno was the leading Belgian scorer with 11 (2+9) points, tied with New Zealand’s Anjali Mulari. (Thanks to Andy Potts).
Ice Hockey Under-20: Australia U20 clinch gold medal in Istanbul
Sports Bulletin Report   ISTANBUL: For the third time in the history of the event Australia won gold medals in a tournament of the IIHF Ice Hockey Under-20 World Championship program. As in the previous occasions (2004 & 2010) that happened in the Division III. The 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division III was held at the Zeytinburnu Ice Rink in Istanbul, Türkiye, from 26 January to 2 February. Hoping to get back to the Division II where they played from 2011 to 2017, the Australians beat Israel 4-1 in the gold medal game. In the first period Australia had a strong hold of their opponents and a big advantage on shots on goal (16-6). Both teams had an opportunity on a power play, but to no avail. In the start of the second, again they exchange penalties and play with man advantage. Less than a minute after Sacha Rapchuk served the Australian team’s penalty for too many players, Dmitri Kuleshov passed the puck to Justin Dixon. His first shot was saved by Israeli goalkeeper Itamar Melzer, but he got his second chance on a rebound and this time the puck redirected from Kuleshov and went into the net. Ori Segal was in the penalty box for boarding, when Lachlan Clifford scored on his second try in close range of Melzer after getting the puck from Rapchuk – 2-0 with three minutes to go in the period. Australia captain Dixon scored 27 second into the third period to make it 3-0. He got a great backhand pass from Riley Langille, fired the puck from the slot and it found its way between the goalie’s pads. Segal cut the deficit to two goals five minutes later, but Kuleshov tallied an empty net goal for the final score 4-1. Australia was the best team in Group A with three wins and a 28-6 goal difference after beating Kyrgyzstan, 12-4, New Zealand, 6:2, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, 10-0. In Group B, Israel was Number 1 with even better stats (30-4 goal record) defeating South Africa, 16-1, Bulgaria, 8-0, and Türkiye, 6-3. In the first quarter-final, Australia had the biggest win in its 24th participation in the U20 World Championships – 28-0 over South Africa. Bulgaria defeated convincingly New Zealand, 6-2, Israel overpowered Bosnia and Herzegovina, 10-0 and the most equal quarter-final was the last one as Türkiye beat Kyrgyzstan, 3-1. In the second semi-final Israel won for the second time in four days against Türkiye. The host team tied the score two times – 1-1 and 2-2 – but then the Israelis opened a two-goal advantage and led 4-2 and 6-3 before eventually winning 6-4. Bulgarian won an emotional first game with Türkiye, 5-3, and in the Bronze Medal Game had another victory against the host, 8:3. “We ran a camp in the summer time in August and we identified some core people that we want to build this kind of process around. Those core people just happened to be of younger birth years, that can play both in U18 and U20. Some of them will be able to play four to six U20 World Championships. We just have to continue to build the pieces and process around that core,” explained Eisler. (Thanks to Ivan Tchechankov)
Ice Hockey Player: Canadian Bobby passes away at age 84
Sports Bulletin Report Bobby Hull, the man who single-handedly changed the economics of professional hockey in North America, died earlier today at age 84. Cause of death and location are unknown for now, but the man they called the “Golden Jet” was an icon in NHL circles and a vital contributor to the international hockey world as well. Hull was born in Ste. Anne, Ontario, which is now part of Belleville, about two hours east of Toronto. Even in his teens he was known for his extreme strength, often attributed to his growing up on a farm. He joined the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957, when he was just 18 years old, scoring 13 goals as a rookie and finishing second in voting for the Calder Trophy. He increased his goal scoring to 18 and then 39 in the next two years, establishing himself as a premier left winger known for his blazing speed and flowing locks of blond hair tearing down the wing. More important, he became the premier practitioner of the slapshot, terrifying maskless goalies with his high, hard blast off the rush. Hull retired with 610 goals to his name in the regular season, third all time in 1980 after only Howe and Phil Esposito and leaving the game as one of its greatest scoring stars. He won the Art Ross Trophy three times and the Hart Trophy twice. But his stand against the NHL, and his play in the WHA with two young Swedes, cemented his place in hockey history and made him an invaluable part of the game’s legacy which has been felt every day since he signed with the Jets in June 1972.
Australia Under-18 crush Latvia in World Ice Hockey Championship
Sports Bulletin Report ISLAMABAD: It was an Australia Day that nobody will forget in a hurry. On the opposite side of the world, the Australian U18 women’s national team faced a crunch clash with Latvia in the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group A. The Green & Gold knew that any kind of win would guarantee the tournament win with a game to spare. Both teams were unbeaten ahead of Thursday’s clash in Dumfries, Scotland, and they served up a game that lived up to its gold medal billing. Initially, it all followed the Australian script. The second power play of the game saw captain Molly Lukowiak’s shot padded away for Courtney Mahoney to squeeze in a shot from a tight angle. Latvia had a big chance to tie it up late in the frame when the tournament’s leading scorer, Linda Rulle, got through on Madison Smith’s net. However, her usual deadly finishing deserted her, and the shot flashed over the top. Early in the second, two quick goals seemed to have Australia in complete control. Mahoney potted her second of the game and Elana Holub added a third in the 25th minute. At 0-3, Latvia seemed dead and buried. However, there was no panic. A time-out calmed any nerves and got the team back to its strengths. By the second intermission it was 2-3 and game on. Emilija Jakovleva’s mighty point strike converted the Latvians’ first power play of the game, then the impressive Hanna Strause broke clear to grab a short-handed tally. The third period brought some heavy pressure on the Australian net, with four penalties to kill in the closing stages before the hooter sparked jubilant celebrations of a memorable triumph. For Latvia, the disappointment of missing gold could not dim the team’s pride in securing silver in only its second tournament in women’s U18 play. One of the most impressive things about Australia’s success was the depth of the team. Unusually, perhaps uniquely, the gold-medal team did not have a single nominee among the directorate’s individual awards. That was partly a testament to the quality of the competition with just two points separating the top four teams. However, it also highlighted that Australia was not a team that relied heavily on a key player or a dominant line. Throughout the competition, the Aussies played structured, disciplined hockey on all lines. A defeat against tournament host Great Britain in a dead rubber on the final day – thoughts perhaps already drifting towards the medal ceremony, which took place amid a skirl of bagpipes – was the only blemish on a great week. That British victory set up a three-way tie with Latvia and the Netherlands all on 10 points. The tie-break put the Latvians in second with the Dutch winning bronze and GB finishing just out of the medals. Stellar goaltending inspires Turkish survival At the other end of the table, Türkiye and Mexico battled it out to escape relegation. This, too, was a close call. Türkiye got the crucial head-to-head verdict in a shoot-out after a 2-2 tie against Mexico. Twice the Turks led in regulation but a vital goal from Ximena Gonzalez 90 seconds from time kept the Mexicans alive in the game. Türkiye’s goalkeeper, Azra Sert, was the star player, with 37 saves in the game including eight in OT. She also stopped all but one of Mexico’s shootout attempts. Sert played every minute of the tournament for Türkiye, facing 202 shots along the way as her team often endured some tough examinations. The other goalies who played all five games were Latvia’s Jelizaveta Stadnika, who faced 119 shots and Australia’s Smith, whose defence allowed just 61 efforts to reach her. Sert, who made her senior international debut last season, stopped 192 of them for an impressive save ratio of 95.05%. That courageous performance earned Sert the directorate prize for top goalie. Latvia’s Rulle, prolific here as in Istanbul, won the best forward award after scoring 10 (8+2) points. That included a dazzling display against Mexico where she had five goals and an assist in a 6-1 win. Dutch defender Roos Karst took the prize in that category. (Thanks to Andy Potts)
Steven Stamkos becomes the 47th player to score 500 goals in Ice Hockey
Andrew Podnieks Steven Stamkos became the 47th NHLer to score 500 career regular-season goals last night when the 33-year-old beat Spencer Martin of Vancouver with a shot just 4:40 into the game. The goal came off the rush and was set up perfectly on a close-in pass from Alex Killorn, and Stamkos merely redirected the puck into the open side. The goal, his 19th of the season with the Lightning, came in his 965th career game, making him the 18th fastest to reach the hallowed mark. And in a sense, it is a mark that almost guarantees him being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after he retires. There are only five retired players who have scored 500 or more who are not in the Hall: Keith Tkachuk (538), Pat Verbeek (522), Pierre Turgeon (515), Jeremy Roenick (513), and Peter Bondra (503). Stamkos is playing in his 15th NHL season, all with Tampa Bay. Earlier this year he joined the 1,000-point club and, if he remains healthy the rest of the year, he will also hit 1,000 games as well. Drafted 1st overall by Tampa in 2008, Stamkos joined the Lightning that fall at training camp and never looked back. He had had two sensational years in junior with the Sarnia Sting and as an NHL rookie he scored 23 goals. But more important, one of his teammates was Gary Roberts, who was playing in his final NHL season. Roberts was something of a miracle, his career seeming to come to an end in 1996 after a serious neck injury. But Roberts became a fitness and diet freak and extended his career another decade, and immediately after retiring he opened a gym in Toronto. After his rookie season, Stamkos started training with Roberts, and has been doing so ever since, developing tremendous muscle mass and endurance, and improving his shot immensely. The training paid immediate dividends as Stamkos shot up to 51 goals in his second year, co-winning the Rocket Richard Trophy with Sidney Crosby. After a crazy start in 2010-11 in which he scored 19 goals in 19 games, Stamkos was linked to the “50 in 50” club, but his production dipped dramatically and he finished the year with “only” 45 goals. A year later, though, he led the league on his own, scoring 60 goals, but his progress stalled soon after, first because of the lockout, and then because of a broken leg in November 2013. This was a double whammy as he missed much of the season and, more significantly, a chance to play for Canada at the 2014 Olympics, at which Canada won gold. He returned to the Lightning soon after, but team captain, linemate, and friend Martin St. Louis was traded to the Rangers at this time, and Stamkos was named captain. He has worn the “C” ever since. The Lightning made their first deep run into the playoffs with Stamkos in the spring of 2015, but Chicago beat them in the Cup finals in six games. A year later, he suffered a torn meniscus that required months of recovery, but amid wild rumours coming out of Toronto he signed an eight-year contract with the Bolts in the summer of 2016. “Stammer” continued to score at a pace of about half a goal a game, among the all-time leaders, but team success finally came to him in 2020 when the Lightning won their first Stanley Cup. He had missed most of the playoffs because of surgery to a core muscle but returned in time to score in the Cup finals against Dallas. This muted Cup win came in Edmonton, during the Covid-19 bubble and an empty arena, but a year later the Lightning repeated, beating Montreal in five games before frenzied fans for the first time. They went to a third straight finals last year, losing to Colorado in six games. Along the way Stamkos has played international hockey for Canada whenever he’s been able. He played at the 2007 World U18 Men’s Championship in Finland, alongside Drew Doughty and Braden Holtby, and a year later he helped Canada win gold at the World Juniors. In 2009, he played on Canada’s silver-medal team at the senior World Championship, and he later played at two more Worlds, in 2010 and 2013. His career highlight in national colours came in 2016 when he helped Canada win the championship of the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
Canada outclass Finland 8-0 in IIHF Ice Hockey Under-18
Risto Pakarinen Canada was determined to leave nothing to chance in their opening game of the tournament. They outshot, outscored, and outworked Finland, scored six goals and bagged a convincing 8-0 win. Canada's Caitlin Kraemer picked up three points and Arianne posted a shutout. Kerttu Kuja-Halkola made 40 saves for Finland. "The team played great and we're really happy with the outcome. But we're just getting started,"  Kraemer said. Finland and Canada played a pre-Worlds game on Thursday and Finland came out on top, 4-3, proving that anything is possible and that the gap between Canada and the rest of the hockey world can be bridged. But that's why we play the games, goes the old proverb. To find out the better team on a given day. "For a lot of us it was the first time we represented our country and it was a great way to get our nerves out and realize what we needed to work on," Kraemer said. In the teams’ opening game at the U18 Women’s Worlds, Canada pulled the drawbridge up again, leaving Finland on the outside, looking in. "Not sure if they played better this time, but our defensive play wasn't as good today. we made mistakes, and that'äs something you can't have in these games," said Finland coach Mira Kuisma. Team Canada outshot Finland 37-3 in the first two periods, and, more importantly, they outsored the Finns 5-0. Caitlin Kraemer opened the scoring about four minutes into the first period, when Emma Pais won a puck race into the Finnish zone and found her alone in front of the Finnish goaltender Kerttu Kuja-Halkola. The Kitchener Ranger didn’t miss. With eight minutes remaining in the period, the Canadians cycled the puck and played it to Kraemer in front of the net, and the 16-year-old doubled Canada’s lead, assisted by Alex Law and Emma Venusio. "It gave us the momentum and energy. It just happened to be me," Kraemer said. "It was pretty cool but overall, I'm just happy with the team's performance." While Canada dominated the play and kept the ouck in the Finnish zone most iof the period, their third goal came off a rush. Alexander MacKenzie won a puck battle at the offensive blueline, carried the puck into the Finnish zoen and found Abby Lunney all by herself between the Finnish defence. She looked up and fired the puck in through Kuja-Halkola’s five-hole for 3.-0, at 8.32. After two minutes of play with 4-on-4, Abby Stonehouse jumped out of the penalty box and was taken down by a Finnish defender. While the Finns were waiting for the referee to call the penalty, Keira Hurry fired a wrister that beat Kuja-Halkola on the glove side. Kraemer’s assist ion the goal was her third point of the game. In the next shift, Piper Grober took a page from Hurry’s book and fired a hard wrister from the slot and gave Canada a 5-0 lead in the game, with just 26 seconds remaining in the second period. Finland came back with poise at the start of the third period and could create a couple of chances on powerplay, but as soon as Canada had killed the penalty, another defensive zone turnover proved costly for Finland. Law and Gracie Graham laid the groundwork and Stonehouse wired in Canada's sixth goal after four minutes of play.
IIHF Ice Hockey Under-18 Women: Best 15 for WW18
Sports Bulletin Report ISLAMABAD: In one week the IIHF Ice Hockey Under-18 Women’s World Championship will mark the 15th edition of the premier junior event for women. Started in 2008 in Calgary, the Under-18 provides a vital link between high school and college, and the senior levels, and in the last 15 years virtually every superstar at the top level started with their national team at the WW18 level. Herewith are the 15 best players to have appeared at the Under-18. Kendall Coyne Schofield The all-time leader in goals (22) and points (33) at the WW18 level, Coyne Schofield also won two gold and one silver medal in her three years of play (2008-10), scoring the winning goal in both gold-medal games. Small, fast, and tenacious, she epitomized the reason the IIHF started the women’s U18. She also was a rare example of a North American ending her U18 career one year and starting her senior career the next. Amanda Kessel When you average three points per game during your WW18 career, you’re going to be on this list, and so Kessel rightfully takes her place as one of WW18’s all-time greats. A teammate of Coyne in 2008 and ’09, Kessel had 30 points in ten games, won two gold medals, and was named IIHF Directorate Best Forward for 2009. Marie-Philip Poulin The only North American to win medals in WW18 and WW in the same season, Poulin showed as a teenager why she would go on to become the most dominant woman in the hockey world today. She finished runner-up to Coyne and Kessel in the first two years of WW18 play, but individually she was right there with her rivals. MPP had 13 goals and 26 points in her ten games, using her speed, playmaking, and on-ice smarts to lead Canada’s offence. Cayla Barnes The defender from California started her USA Hockey career with three gold medals at WW18 (2015-17), one of only four players to have achieved the triple (all American). She then jumped right in to the Olympics the following season. She was the IIHF Directorate Best Defender two years in a row and was team captain in her final year of U18 eligibility. A smooth skater who moves the puck with speed and confidence, few blueliners matched her ability at the junior level. Alina Muller Everyone knows how good the 24-year-old Muller is today, but maybe not everyone knows how good she was as soon as she became a teenager. She played at the Olympics BEFORE playing at the (top-level) Women’s U18, winning a bronze medal in 2014, at 14 the youngest hockey player ever to reach the podium. En route to the top division of the WW18, she scored nine goals in five games for Switzerland. A year later, she made her top-level WW18 debut and didn’t disappoint, scoring five goals in five games, including the winning goal in a 2-0 victory over Finland in the round robin. A year later, she had seven goals in as many games and was named Directorate Best Forward. Jessica Campbell She may be “coach Campbell” today, but a dozen years ago she was “captain Campbell,” Canada’s teenaged hero who scored the golden goal against the U.S. in a 5-4 win in Chicago to give Canada its first WW18 gold medal. In all, Campbell had nine goals and 24 points in 2009 and ’10, but despite her fantastic success as a junior she was never quite able to parlay that into an extended career at the WW level. No matter. Her U18 accomplishments are an important part of IIHF history. Alyssa Grogan Although she played in only the 2008 WW18, Grogan had a spotless 5-0 record and allowed just four goals, leading the U.S. to victory in Calgary. She was named Best Goalkeeper, and is in fact the only goalie at the WW18 level to win five games in one tournament. Her career was hampered by a serious concussion, however, and she never managed to make it to the Women’s Worlds level. Elisa Holopainen She made her WW18 debut at age 15 and played in three events from 2017 to 2019. In her final year, the forward was a dominant player, leading the tournament in goals (six) and points (eight), and helping Suomi win bronze. It was her OT goal in the quarter-finals that gave the Finns a 3-2 win over Sweden. Holopainen was named Directorate Best Forward, and just a short time later she made her senior debut, winning silver with the team that came within a whisker of upsetting the U.S. for gold. Phoebe Staenz Small and fast in a Coyne Schofield sort of way, Staenz was a breath of fresh air in Switzerland’s pre-Alina Muller era, and she could score with the best of the North Americans as well. Her first WW18 was back in 2011, and her impact was immediate. In her first career game, she scored the lone goal for Switzerland in a 9-1 loss to Canada, and she went on to record seven points in six games. She played in the Women’s Worlds later that year and did the same thing again a year later. In 2012, she was team captain and had six goals in six games at the WW18, notably a hat trick in a 5-3 win over Finland in the round robin. Jincy Dunne A two-time winner of Directorate Best Defender (2014, 2015) honours, Dunne capped off her U18 career in amazing fashion, scoring the golden goal just 51 seconds into overtime for a 3-2 win against Canada in 2015. It was her second goal of the game, but as she left the ice she could never have known it would be fully six years before she played at an IIHF event again. But her perseverance paid off, and she has been a key element of USA’s senior team since 2021. Erin Ambrose One of only ten players to win two gold and silver at the Women’s U18 – and the only Canadian with as much neckwear – Ambrose was named Best Defender in 2012, her final tournament at the junior level at which she wore the “C”. She had 16 points from the blue line in 15 games, not scoring her first goal until her third year and 12th WW18 game. Nonetheless, she was a rock inside her own blue line and was a major factor in Canada giving up only one goal all tournament (and, no, she wasn’t on ice for that lone marker either!). Alex Carpenter One of the youngest Americans to play at the WW18, Carpenter was late in her 15th year when she appeared at the 2010 WW18. It was her first of three successive appearances at the event, where she won two silver and a gold. Incredibly, she had 18 goals in 15 career games, including the opening goal in a 5-2 win over Canada for that gold in 2011. She also made the challenging transition from WW18 in 2012 to senior WW a year later. Taylor Heise Heise made her senior WW debut this past August in Herning, turning in an historic performance that garnered her MVP honours. It had taken her four years to make the jump from U18 play where she helped the Americans win three successive gold medals, 2016-18, one of only five players to win three gold at a junior event. (Jason Botterill won three World Junior Championship gold, and four Americans have won three at WW18.) Heise was captain in her final year of WW18 and had four goals in five games, notably the opening marker against Canada in the semi-finals, a game won by the U.S., 4-3, in a penalty-shot shootout. Brigette Lacquette An imposing defender for two years, 2009-10, Lacquette was a powerhouse on the blue line for Canada, winning a silver in 2009 and gold with Jessica Campbell a year later, when Lacquette was named Directorate Best Defender. She enjoyed success at the senior level as well but retired in 2019 and two years later was hired by the Chicago Blackhawks as their WHL scout. She was the first member of Canada’s First Nations to play for her country. Lina Ljungblom Ljungblom was on Sweden’s historic WW18 team of 2018 which won a silver medal, advancing to the gold medal game against the U.S. thanks to her game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over Russia in the semi-finals. She was only 16, in her second of three U18 tournaments, and a year later she played in her final WW18 and her first senior WW within the space of three months. The silver came as a result of a 9-3 loss to the U.S. for gold, but she scored the final goal, making her one of only three Europeans ever to score in a WW18 gold medal game. (Thanks to Andrew Podnieks)
Croatia post victory in IIHF Ice Hockey Under-20 World Championship
Sports Bulletin Report Kaunas (Lithuania): Newly promoted Croatia continued their rise to win the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Under-20 World Championship Division II Group A in Kaunas, Lithuania. With only a few minor tweaks to their roster, Croatia’s U20 national team has now jumped two levels of World Championship play within the space of just three months. In September this year they celebrated promotion from Division IIB in Belgrade, Serbia in a tournament pushed ahead due to Covid-19. Now competing at a higher level in Kaunas, Lithuania and with momentum clearly on their side, they continued their winning ways. Croatia finished top of Division II Group A with 12 points in Kaunas. They were level on points with Great Britain whom the Croats had beaten 7-4 during day two to squeeze past their main rival to grab top spot. Croatia’s second Olympic-sized indoor rink in the entire country is in Sisak, 55 kilometers south of Croatia’s capital Zagreb. Despite conditions being far from ideal, Croatia’s U20 national team upset the odds at the Kaunas Ice Palace. Their recipe for success combines a strong team spirit and sending players abroad to push ahead in their development. Half of their gold-winning roster skates for clubs outside of their home country. One of them is 16-year-old Bruno Idzan, the youngest skater on the Croatian team. Playing for HV71 Jonkoping’s junior program in Sweden, Bruno Idzan was Croatia’s leading scorer in Kaunas and was also selected as the best forward of the tournament by the directorate. Croatia’s most clinical performance came against their main rival Great Britain on day two. Thanks to a fine piece of individual skill, GB’s Bayley Harewood left Croatia’s Karlo Marinkovic in his wake at the right face-off circle to get GB in front on a one-man advantage. But when the same Harewood sat out an interference call, Niksa Juric levelled the game after tipping home a Tin Alic wrister at 6:29. When Jonathan McBean became the next Brit to sit out a two-minute minor at 7:34, Croatia needed just 12 seconds to go in front. Team captain Vito Idzan one-timed a cross ice pass from Zavrski past Daniel Crowe. Zavrski once again was the provider at 15:18 when winning the face-off from which Niko Cavlovic stretched Croatia’s lead to 3-1. 54 seconds before the first intermission and once again on a power play, Marinkovic picked out Bebek in the slot for a clinical 4-1 strike. Great Britain’s penalty worries continued to cost dearly during the middle frame. Jacob White-Sey was sitting out for a tripping call as Croatia scored their fourth goal on a one-man advantage. Juric reacted ahead of GB blueliner Liam Steele to score his second of the afternoon at 29:00. The influential Vito Idzan then scored his second of the afternoon as the Croats celebrated their six unanswered goal to run away with a 6-1 lead at 31:02. Crowe was then replaced by Benjamin Norton in the GB net who held out throughout the rest of the middle frame. Defensively solid Lithuania finished with the bronze medals in front of their home crowd with Kazimieras Jukna selected as the best goalkeeper of the tournament by the directorate. Spain ended up fourth at this level for a second consecutive season with influential Jaime de Bonilla standing out and being picked as the tournament’s best defender. Romania finished without a point and will need to regroup in Division II Group B next season. Croatia on the other hand will now get their credentials severely tested at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group B. They return to a level they most recently skated at in 2013. There they will play the likes of Slovenia, Ukraine, Italy, Poland and Estonia in a year. (thanks to Henrik Manninen).
France to host IIHF Continental Cup Final next year 2023
Sports Bulletin Report Angers (France): The 25th champion in the history of this European club competition will be determined in the west of France. HK Nitra, the current leader of the Slovak Extraliga, the Cardiff Devils, the playoff champion of the United Kingdom’s Elite Ice Hockey League and Asiago Hockey, last year’s Italian champion and winner of the Alps Hockey League, will join the host club Angers Ducs, the runner-up last season in the French Ligue Magnus. The four teams have recently qualified for the final tournament through their third-round tournaments. The event will be hosted at the brand-new Angers IceParc. The arena with a capacity for 3,500 fans was opened three years ago. With an average attendance of 3,156 in the current season, it’s the arena with the second-highest attendance in France. Last spring the arena hosted the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A where France earned promotion to the top division on home ice and set an attendance record for a women’s ice hockey game in the country with 3,586 spectators watching the 4-1 win in the deciding game against Norway. All four clubs applied to host the final and had previously hosted one of the preliminary-round groups this season. Angers was chosen based on the bid, the facility to accommodate the four teams and officials and travel considerations. The Continental Cup has been played since 1997/1998. Last year Cracovia Krakow became the first Polish club to win the Continental Cup and played in the Champions Hockey League as Continental Cup winner this season. During the past 24 editions, four clubs from Slovakia (Kosice 1998, Slovan Bratislava 2004, Zvolen 2005, Martin 2009), one club from France (Rouen, 2012 and 2016) and one from Great Britain (Nottingham, 2017) have been among the Continental Cup winners. No Italian representative has won the Continental Cup yet. (Thanks to Martin Merk)