Friday, February 26, 2010

Twitter Updates during Men's Olympic Semifinals

The first of the Semifinal Games will be starting in a few minutes as the U.S.A. will take on Finland while at 4:30 PM PST it will be Canada taking on Slovakia with both games taking place at Canada Hockey Place. It's very simple today, win and your in the Gold Medal Game on Sunday afternoon, lose and you will play for the Bronze Medal on Saturday Evening.

U.S.A. VS. Finland 12:00 PM PST

Canada VS. Slovakia 4:30 PM PST

Bronze Medal Game: Saturday at 7:00 PM PST

Gold Medal Game: Sunday at 12:15 PM PST

Women's Final Tournament Scores and Results

Here's a look at the full Women's Tournament for the Scores, Standings and Results for the 2010 Women's Olympic Tournament. I will provide final comments and thoughts soon as we wrap up the Women's Tournament and get ready for the Men's Semifinals and Medal Round coming up this weekend.

Congrats to Team Canada for winning Gold for the 3rd straight Olympics. The U.S.A. played very well in getting the Silver Medal. Also to the Finns who ended the Olympic Medal Drought that had lasted since 1998.

The Updated World Rankings will be used to determine who will play in the 2011 World Women's Hockey Championship which will be played in early 2011 where the host city has yet to be determined. Also the tournament has been reduced from 9 to 8 teams and will go back to the old format it was before the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Here's the Tournament Divisons and Groups for the 2010-2011 season. The schedules and Sites will be announced during the off season.

WWC: U.S.A., Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Switzerland.

Division 1: Japan, China, Germany, Norway, Austria, Latvia

Division 2: Czech Republic, France, North Korea, Great Britain, Italy, Denmark

Division 3: Netherlands, Australia, Slovenia, Croatia, Belgium, Hungary

Group Stage

Group A Standings

1. Canada 3-0-0-0 9 PTS 41-2

2. Sweden 2-0-0-1 6 PTS 10-15

3. Switzerland 1-0-0-2 3 PTS 6-15

4. Slovakia 0-0-0-3 0 PTS 4-29

Group A Results

2/13: Sweden 3 Switzerland 0 (1-0, 1-0, 1-0)

2/13: Canada 18 Slovakia 0 (7-0, 6-0, 5-0)

2/15: Switzerland 1 Canada 10 (0-2, 1-3, 0-5)

2/15: Sweden 6 Slovakia 2 (3-2, 1-0, 2-0)

2/17: Canada 13 Sweden 1 (5-0, 7-0, 1-1)

2/17: Slovakia 2 Switzerland 5 (1-0, 0-1, 1-4)

Group B Standings

1. U.S.A. 3-0-0-0 9 PTS 31-1

2. Finland 2-0-0-1 6 PTS 7-8

3. Russia 1-0-0-2 3 PTS 3-19

4. China 0-0-0-3 0 PTS 3-16

Group B Results

2/14: U.S.A. 12 China 1 (5-0, 3-0, 4-1)

2/14: Finland 5 Russia 1 (1-1, 2-0, 2-0)

2/16: Russia 0 U.S.A. 13 (0-5, 0-7, 0-1)

2/16: Finland 2 China 1 (0-1, 2-0, 0-0)

2/18: U.S.A. 6 Finland 0 (4-0, 1-0, 1-0)

2/18: China 1 Russia 2 (0-0, 1-2, 0-0)

Tournament Placement

2/20: Switzerland 6 China 0 (2-0, 2-0, 2-0)

2/20: Russia 4 Slovakia 2 (2-0, 1-1, 1-1)

5th Place Game

2/22: Switzerland 2 Russia 1 (SO) (0-1, 1-0, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0)

7th Place Game

2/22: China 3 Slovakia 1 (0-1, 1-0, 2-0)


2/22: U.S.A. 9 Sweden 1 (2-0, 3-1, 4-0)

2/22: Canada 5 Finland 0 (2-0, 1-0, 2-0)

Bronze Medal Game

2/25: Finland 3 Sweden 2 (OT) (0-0, 2-1, 0-1, 1-0)

Gold Medal Game

2/25: Canada 2 U.S.A. 0 (2-0, 0-0, 0-0)

Final Tournament Results:

1. Canada

2. U.S.A.

3. Finland

4. Sweden

5. Switzerland

6. Russia

7. China

8. Slovakia

Updated World Ranking:

Canadian Women use 2 early goals to win 3rd straight Gold Medal

Canadian Olympic Rookie Marie-Philip Poulin used 2 goals in the first 10 minutes to help the Canadians win their 3rd straight Olympic Women's Gold Medal over the U.S.A. and by doing so, have overtaken the U.S.A. for the top spot in the Women's World Rankings.

After the 2 goals were scored in the first 10 minutes, Goalie Shannon Szabados used a great performance by stopping all 28 U.S.A. shots to keep the Americans off the scoreboard as Canadian domination of this tournament since 2002. The U.S.A.'S only Women's Gold came in the inaugural tournament back in 1998.

In a game that had the physicality and the exicment of the Men's Prelim Round Game last weekend, the best Women's Teams in the World didn't disappointment the fans of both sides to give the game that fans of the U.S.A. and Canada deserve for the Gold Medal.

However, as we end another Women's Olympic Tournament. What should the U.S.A and Canada when it comes down to helping teams from around the world improve their game to make this tournament more competitive.

Do these players have an obligation to help young girls take up the sport around the world, or is that the responsibility of their own national team federations to help them out to make this tournament more competitive in the near future in both the Women's World Championship and the Olympics?

One thing that could help is the recent creation of the World Junior Women's Championship where this can help increase the number of players, especially at the younger age groups where you have very few Major College Teams and no Junior Leagues or teams at all.

Even though the tournament has only been around for 2 years, they has been some success already. The Czech Republic was able to medal at the first event in 2008 and then got back to the Bronze Medal Game back last year where they lost to Sweden is a very close game.

Also some of the lower seeded games have been greatly competitive such as all 4 of the placement games being 1 goal games last year, including 3 of them going to OT, so hopefully this can be a huge step forward for the Women's Game, especially for the younger players looking to play at the Olympics and WWC.

Also last year was the first year to include a Division 1 Tournament with the winner getting promoted to this year's tournament. This is good news because it was recommended that the IIHF wait 3 years before adding a Division 1 Tournament for new teams to have a shot at competing and getting promoted to the Main Event which will be in Chicago this season in March.

Canada VS. U.S.A. Women's Gold Medal Game Photos:

Canada VS. U.S.A. Women's Gold Medal Game Summary:

From Andrew Ponieks of the International Ice Hockey Federation Website:

Marie-Phillip Poulin scored two first-period goals to lead Canada to a 3rd straight Olympic Gold Medal in a 2-0 win over the United States. Shannon Szabados was nothing short of brilliant in goal for the Canadians, stopped all 28 shots.

"We trusted in ourselves," said veteran forward Jennifer Botterill. "Steve Yzerman came and spoke to us before the game, and that was one of the biggest pieces of advice: to trust yourself. We were excited, but had confidence all the preparation we did."

Coming into this game, Szabados had exactly two games of top-level experience under her belt, both here in Vancouver over the last two weeks. The game was watched by Wayne Gretzky and Prime Minister Stephen Harper as well as a full complement of both the Men's and Women's Teams from Canada and the U.S.A.

"I'm proud and very honored to be Canadian," said Meghan Agosta, the MVP of these Olympics. "To represent your country in Canada is honor and of itself. We had no doubt that if we played hard and worked together that we would be successful."

Coach Melody Davidson gave Szabados the surprise start despite many years of experience in Kim St. Pierre resume. Six minutes into the game, Szabados proved her worth in the first period-but not the last-time, making a huge glove save and ripped a wrist shot to the glove side, the game's first good scoring chance.

"Team Canada's a great team," said American Hilary Knight. "It just shows their perseverance. We had tons of opportunities tonight and couldn't capitalize. Hats off to Szabados for doing a great job. The puck didn't bounce our way, but she did a great job."

Indeed, while Canada's men's had been scrutinized for the intense pressure they had felt, the women, with mostly easy games so far, hadn't faced any. But they started this game nervously and tentatively. Midway through the period skated their way into a more confident team, drawing a couple of penalties but unable to capitalize.

Then it was Canada that took the quick penalties, creating a five-on-three for the Americans for 38 seconds. Szabados was sensational, and Wickenheiser made an heroic sliding block of a hard shot to keep the U.S.A. at bay. Soon after the team were playing at full strength, Canada struck. Jennifier Botterill took a loose puck along the left boards and swept a pass to Poulin in the slot. Poulin ripped a one timer over the glove of Jessie Vetter at 13:05.

Poulin got her second goal of the period at 16:50. This came off a faceoff deep in the U.S.A. end to the left of Vetter. She won a draw to winger Meghan Agosta. but the weak backhander was easily blocked. The puck came back right back to Poulin, however, and she drilled a low shot to the glove shot which Vetter couldn't reach.

"Poulin's just a little sniper," said Botterill. "You try to get her the puck, and she gets off some good shots."

It was a fast and furious period marked by a great scoring chances. The big difference was Szabados at one end and Canada's ability to nail its chances at the other. The Americans came out as a determined group and spent most of the first 90 seconds of the 2nd period in Canada's end, generating some good chances but not able to beat Szabados.

Canada then incurred two delay of game penalties within a span of 23 seconds, but the penalty killers during the 1:38 two man advantage was amazing. They blocked passing lanes, got sticks and bodies in the way of shots, and had Szabados as a surperb last line of defense.

"Szabados played great", said Lamoureux. "She stole the game for us." We had two 5-on-3's and we just couldn't bury the puck. They had blocked a lot of shots. We had rebounds to capitalize and made some great saves, I tip my hat to her. She played awesome."

The rest of the period featured spectacularly exciting, and end-to-end action. Both goalies had several close calls, the glove of Szabados often made the difference. Both teams also had their chances with the man advantage, and nearly the end of the period each team had a power play which has spent almost entirely in the offense zone. But, after 40 heart-pounding minutes, Poulin's two goals were still the only ones on record.

Canada's outlet passing and poise under pressure were impressive, and the team was able to contain the speed of the Americans for the most part, keeping their fleet-of-foot forwards on the outside. The Americans still generated their fair share of chances, and with a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes to play (or more), this game's results was by no means secure.

It was clear from the drop of the puck to start the 3rd period that Canada wasn't about to gamble, knowing that the Americans had to start taking chances. Szabados made another sensational save near the seven minute marks. The Canadian Defense made a dangerous clearing right through its own crease and the puck bounced off Monique Lamoureux's skate and headed right between the legs of the goalie until she squeezed the pads together.

The pace never let up, but the Canadians played brilliant defense and maintained their composure until the final horn when Canada Hockey Place erupted into a deafening moment of joy. Canada has won gold for the 3rd straight Olympic Games. While the U.S.A. has won Silver for the 2nd time (2002).

"This is definitely my last Olympic Games." Becky Kellar said, "and this is a good way to go out. It felt like a dream to be out there with that many people in the stands."

Finland Edge Nordic Rivals for Women's Bronze In OT

Finland was looking for their first Women's Olympic Hockey Medal since the first ever tournament in 1998 while Sweden was coming their best performance in 2006 with the upset over the U.S.A. to win the Silver Medal.

For Finland, a back and fourth game where the Finns got the Finns and Sweden to OT before Erika Holst's skate blade a quarter of the way through OT to clinch Finland the Bronze Medal. This is the big goal that Finland was looking for after a couple of sub par performance's in the Women's Olympic Tournament. However, they have made up for it with Bronze Medals in the last 2 World Women's Championship Tournaments.

One of the biggest parts of the Bronze Medal was Finnish Goalie Noora Raty was easily the best player for Finland, and helped keep Finland stay in the Semifinal against Canada earlier in the week. After ending the Olympic Medal Drought, hopefully it will help the Women's Program from getting more money support and more young players to play the game.

Also for Sweden, this ends a medal streak that goes back to 2002 where they won Bronze in 2002, and one of the biggest upsets in Women's Hockey History as the Swedes beat the U.S.A. in the Semifinals to help win the Silver Medal. After the North American Powers, the Northern European Rivals is the next big rivals and are in the always in the hunt for a Medal in the Olympics and Women's World Championships.

Hopefully this can help the sport in Finland and Sweden as hopefully sometime soon that either Finland or Sweden can have a team that can win Gold in both events. And in the newly created World Junior Women's Championships in the near future that made its international debut in 2008.

Both teams should be honored for a job well done as the are the 2 European Teams that want the Women's Game to do well by creating Women's Development Programs, getting to play for College Teams in North America and eventually help create Women's Pro Leagues around the world.

Finland VS. Sweden Bronze Medal Pictures:

Finland VS. Sweden Bronze Medal Game Summary:

From Risto Pakarinen of the International Ice Hockey Federation Website:

Finland and Sweden went full rounds in the Women's Bronze Medal Game. Karoliina Rantamaki got the game winning goal 2:33 into the Overtime Period when the puck bounced in Erika Holst's skate blade,

"This is a huge medal for women's hockey in Finland. It will help us get better financial support, and obviously, when girls playing hockey in Finland to see that we won a medal in the Olympics, they may want to be here, too," said Finland's goaltender Noora Raty.

"We expected the game to be like it was, it was a tight game, and not a lot of goals, but it was great," said Finland's Mariia Posa.

"Our goalie was great, and the whole team defended well", she added.

Finland has won the last two bronze medals at the Women's World Championship-beating Sweden in the tournament in 2009-but haven't medaled in the Olympics since 1998. But the Finns stayed out of the box for just 43 seconds as defensemen Rosa Lindstedt for a hooking minor. The Finnish penalty kill, and Raty, had little trouble with the Swedish power play, though.

"We were a little nervous in the beginning, and it's hard to lay out your best game when your nervous. We're happy to win, though." Raty said.

The Finns were given their chance to grab control of the game, when Jenni Asserholt Nevalainen took a slashing minor at 8:11. Unfortunately for the Finns, their power play was also an ineffective as the Men's had been just 15 hours prior, in their game against the Czechs.

With about 7 seconds to go, Raty robbed Sweden's Mariah Rooth by making a quick glove save on Rooth's shot from the slot. Keeping the Swedish still goalless forwards still goalless in the tournament.

In the 2nd period, Sweden gave Finland another power play-Frida Nevalainen, tripping- but Shara Grahn in the Swedish Goal was just as impressive as Raty had been for the Finns earlier. However, seconds after Nevalainen got back on the ice, Finland's Heidi Pelttari got the puck on top of the left faceoff circle, she took a couple of steps in and fired a wrist shot from the faceoff dot, and beat Grahm high on the glove side to give Finland the important 1-0 lead.

And given multiple chances, Sweden finally converted one. At 31:11 Mariia Posa was sent to the penalty box for tripping. Isabelle Jordansson fired up a slap shot from the blue line, and Maria Rooth netted her first goal of the tournament, by deflecting the shot from the slot, beating Raty high on her glove shot at 32:24, and tied the game.

Just 36 seconds later, the Finns were down a player again, but managed to kill the team penalty off. In the next shift, Michelle Karvinen got the puck in the Finnish Zone, and she came flying down the ice on the right lane, beat a Swedish Defensemen on the offensive blue line, and cut to the front of the net, went around Grahn and then slammed the puck to the back off the net to give Finland a 2-1 lead at 36:02.

Another penalty would prove to be costly. Pelttarit took a hooking penalty, and the Swedes got to work. Elin Holmlov played the puck to Gunilla Andersson on the point. She onetimed it to the net, Raty made a pad save but Danijela Rundqvist got the rebound. Raty made another save. Rundqviust was the first to grab the second rebound and she put the puck in the net with a backhander, at 45:09.

Sweden got another power play opportunity when Mari Saarinen took a body checking minor, but is slipped through the fingers when Pernilla Wineberg took a penalty for high sticking 43 seconds later. The game went to OT tied at 2-2.

"Before OT, our coaches told us we were the stronger team and we just had to keep believing in our ourselves. If we did, we'd eventually win," said Sweden's Maria Rooth. Faith just wasn't enough, Especially since the other team had some of that, too.

"I never thought we'd get to a penalty shootout, I believed we'd win the game in OT. We were the better team, we moved better. I wasn't with the team so I don't know what he said, but I think he'd just tell the players to get some pucks out of the net," said goaltender Raty.

A little over two minutes into it, Karoliina Rantamaki sent a pass towards the Finnish net, trying to reach Sara Tuominen at the far post. Unfortunately for the Sweden, Erika Holst, trying to keep Tuominen from scoring, deflected the puck into her own net, ending the game. and the tournament, in Finland's Medal Celebrations.

"It's really really, tough" said Swedens goaltender Sara Grahn.

"Losing this game really sucks," added Erika Holst.

"It was a really close game which when we played Finland is pretty a one goal difference in the game." When they went up 1-0 we just had to keep the puck back on the net and determine to tie the game," she said.

Finland's head coach Pekka Hamalainen were all smiles. "This is the highlight of my career. We've made a fantastic journey together, and I'm proud of the commitment the team has shown" he said.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Twitter UPdates during the Women's Gold Medal Game

As the U.S.A. and Canada prepare to take the ice, I will be doing twitter updates during tonight's Women's Gold Medal Game as the game will get under in just a few minutes from Hockey Canada Place in Vancouver. The U.S.A. will look to end the Olympic Drought that has last since the Americans won the first ever Women's Hockey Gold back in 1998, while Canada is looking to make it 3 straight. Who will take the gold tonight. Find out as the game will be on MSNBC in Vancouver.

Here's my Twitter Account:

Women's Gold Medal Preview

Usually we would have the Men's Semifinals first as we are down the Final 4 of the Men's Tournament. But today, with the Women's Gold Medal Game coming up tonight between the U.S.A. and Canada.

As the only nations to ever win gold medals at the Women's Olympic Tournament and the Women's World Hockey Championship back in 1998. These teams have had some great matches over the years and have played for numerous medals over the years. Canada has won Olympic Gold the last 2 Olympics in 2006 and 2002.

However, the U.S.A. has won the Women's World Hockey Championship the last 2 seasons. In addition, 3 years ago, the IIHF created the World Junior Women's Championships where Team U.S.A. has beaten Canada in the first 2 years of the tournament's history, and look to make 3 in a row when the 3rd annual event takes place in March with the tournament taking place in Chicago this season coming up in March.

Women's Gold Medal Game

U.S.A. VS. Canada 5:00 PM @ Canada Hockey Place

With both teams dominating this tournament, even against their Northern European Rivals Sweden and Finland who usually have been able to challenge them in the Olympics and Women's World Championship.

Both Final Group Stage Games were used as the U.S.A. have been better on the defense and goaltending while Canada has been better on the barnstorming of the opponents was held by Sweden a little bit better as the U.S.A has been able to have shutouts over Russia and Finland during the Group Stage.

Then in the Semifinals was able to keep the Swedes to just one goal and that came pretty late in the game.

In the Goaltending battle will be the area where this game will come down who can stay more focused as both goalies haven't been that busy during this tournament in any of the 4 games that have been played for both teams.

Jesse Vetter has a 0.33 GAA and only has allowed 1 goal in this tournament while Canada has decided to play their different goalies Kim St. Pierre or Shannon Szabados that will get the start. The third netminder only played in the 18-0 blowout they gave Slovakia on the opening day of the tournament.

Edge: Toss Up

Defense has been the U.S.A.'s strong suit as the Americans unlike the Canadians have been much better then the Canadians when it comes down to protecting the net when needed during the tournament. For the U.S.A, watch out for the top duo of Catlin Chow and Molly Engstrom who have 8 and 7 points collectively in the tournament and have the capabilities to deliver some hits, where this is something that you don't see that much in the Women's Game.

For Canada, look for them to play a collectively team effort as the scoring hasn't been as effective for the Canadian team as the defensemen scoring hasn't been their as much as players like Phillip-Marie Poulin who leads the defense with 5 points.

In Women's Hockey, Defense scoring is a much bigger part of the game because of the lack of hitting and fewer penalties due to the hits and fewer fights as well.

Edge: Leaning U.S.A.

Talk about score by committee, 9 of the forwards have scored at least one goal in these Olympics. Lead by Jenny Porter who has 11 points (6G 5A) along with several players who have scored 4. While every forward expect for Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiez has scored at least a point that has made it very tough for opponents to focus on a few of the players which will be a challenge for Canada. Even though Zaugg-Siergiez hasn't scored a point, she's been more of a physical presence and more of a puck mover to set up some of the forwards, so far this has been maybe the only disappointment in this tournament run.

For Canada's leading score Meghan Agosta is looking to be the first player ever to score double digit goals in the Women's Olympic Tournament in it's history. Scoring 9 goals which has included a hat trick against Slovakia in their tournament opener where they won 18-0.

Some other forwards that can light the lamp include Jayna Hefford who after scoring 3 goals and 3 assists against Slovakia has kept up her performances with 2 goals and 5 assists in the tournament. However beyond the top 2, no one has more then 3 goals in this tournament so the scoring depth may be a problem, but they can be very hard hitting and can make life for the Americans skaters very tough tonight.

Edge: Slight U.S.A.

Bottom Line: Canada may have the Defending Gold Medals. But the U.S.A. is back up after a couple of Women's World Championships and have much better young players and they have a much better all around game. As expected, this game will be close, but look for the U.S.A. to pull away late in this one.

Final Score: U.S.A. 4 Canada 2

Here's the Scores from both the U.S.A. and Canada Throughout the Tournament.


Group Stage

2/14: U.S.A. 12 China 1 (5-0, 3-0, 4-1)

2/16: U.S.A. 13 Russia 0 (5-0, 7-0, 1-0)

2/18: U.S.A. 6 Finland 0 (4-0, 1-0, 1-0)


2/22: U.S.A. 9 Sweden 1 (2-0, 3-1, 4-0)

Canada Scores

Group Stage

2/13: Canada 18 Slovakia 0 (7-0, 6-0, 5-0)

2/15: Switzerland 1 Canada 10 (0-2, 1-3, 0-5)

2/17: Canada 13 Sweden 1 (5-0, 7-0, 1-1)


2/22: Canada 5 Finland 0 (2-0, 1-0, 2-0)

Kiprusoff, Team Defense Shutdown's the Czech Republic

With one of the most defensive showdowns of the enter tournament with the first goal not coming until Niklas Hagaman broke the deadlock in a game of chicken where despite the shot count being so high in this game, it was getting to the point where one goal could have been enough to win the game.

Thanks to Mikka Kiprusoff's great performance, that made the difference as the Finns were able to shut out the Czechs and the team will be back in the Semifinals and Medal Round for the 2nd straight Olympics after coming so close to winning their first ever Olympic Gold Medal in their team's history.

For the Czech Republic, this ends a streak where the Czechs will not for an Olympic Medal for the first time since 1994. Could be a major sign of the decline of Czech Hockey in recent years. Their Junior Team have struggled, they not producing more players to the NHL in recent years and the Czech Extraliga has been going downhill steadily over the last decade or so.

Also, they had one of the older rosters on the team that for some of these guys that this would most likely be their final International Tournament of their careers.

For Finland, it's a shot at redemption against the U.S.A. as the Finns are looking for the nations first ever Olympic Gold after winning Silver Medals in 1988 (Calgary) and 2006 (Turin, Italy) and winning Bronze Medals in 1994 (Lillehammer, Norway) and 1998 (Nagano, Japan). Finland's last senior international Gold Medal was back in 1995 when the IHWC was held in Stockholm.

Finland VS. Czech Republic Game Photos:

Finland VS. Czech Republic Game Summary:

Here's the Matches for the Semifinals on Friday. Both Games will be at the Hockey Canada Place.

U.S.A. VS. Finland 12:00 PM PST

Canada VS. Slovakia 6:30 PM PST

Risto Pakarinen of the International Ice Hockey Federation:

Thanks to Mikka Kiprusoff's shutout and Niklas Hagman's power play goal, Finland stayed in Vancouver to play a semi-final game against Team U.S.A., after 2-0 win over the Czech Republic late on Wednesday night.

"Just another day at the office for "Kipper"." said Teemu Selanne.

Finland managed to get a bye by being the best 2nd place team, while the Czechs had to go the full rounds with Latvia in the 2nd round game on Tuesday night. Maybe it was the Czechs' slight fatigue that caused penalty trouble they were in early in the game.

"Often it's better to play on back to back days, but I don't know, maybe they were tired. Although, they all play in the NHL and they should be used to it," Finland's Tuomo Ruutu said.

"This was a huge improvement over our game against Sweden. We wanted to be active, and take initiate. It's easier to be aggressive and play with our emotion if you know that somebody will cover for you. The defensemen can pinch when you can pinch they can trust the forwards," he added.

Just 3:38 into the game, Finland had a two-man advantage, a golden opportunity to score. The power play was turned into a 4-on-3 special when Finland captain Saku Koivu was sent to the penalty box for tripping. Finland-who had scored six power play goals in the first 3 games of the tournament-couldn't capitalize on its chance, nor did it score on any of the other four power play chances it had in this game.

Not only did the penalties give Finland the upper hand in the period, they also kept the Czech superstar Jaromir Jagr off the ice, as coach Ruzicka went with other players in the penalty kill. Jagr played only 2:08 in the first period.

In the 2nd period, the Czechs stayed out of the penalty box, a recipe for success, and they managed to create some good scoring chances. Team Captain Patrik Elias had an empty net in front of him halfway through the period, but the puck bounced over the blade. In fact, the only penalty of the period was on Olli Jokinen delaying of the game at 15:41 after he moved the net during a Czech attack. The ensued power play unit with Elias, Jagr, and Tomas Plekanec and defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Tomas Kaberle created a couple of good chances, but Kiprusoff was perfected in the Finnish goal.

"The most important thing is how the goalie makes his team feel, if he gives them the extra confidence. He doesn't even have to be the best in the world, if he makes his teammates more confident," said Jaromir Jagr."

The game was as round as the goalless score after two periods indicated. The Finns out shot the Czechs out shot Finland 11-10. And it came down the wire. Both teams were very careful in their own ends, with the first goal simply getting the puck over the blueline, and then went looking for that one mistake. Or a Power Play chance to take advantage.

Finland got its chance at 52:17 when Martin Erat was sent to the box for delaying the game. With 6:26 remaining, the puck was played to Janne Niskala whose slapshot Niklas Hagman deflected to the back of the net through Vokoun's five hole.

"It was tough luck for us, because the defensemen lost his helmet and he had to go and pick it up. But, it's a part of the game," Jagr commented on the play that left Hagman in front of the net.

Finland will play the U.S.A. in it's semifinal on Friday

"It'll be a tough game, they have a couple of skilled lines, but also players that are physical. A little bit like our team," said Defensemen Kimmo Timonen.

Sweden Dethroned, Slovakia to play for first ever Olympic Medal

The Defending Olympic Gold Medal Winners were looking to be the first team to repeat since the Soveit Union Domination in the 60s and the 70s. After a slow start to the game where it was a bit of a sleeper in the first period, but the game came to life in the 2nd period when Marian Gaborik and Andrej Sekera helped the Slovaks go up 2-0 in just over a minute prior to the midway point of the game.

For Sweden, Henrik Zetterberg and Patric Hornqvist came back quickly to make it 2-2 as the game began to come alive. With some great PP's chances and some fast action. The Slovaks used Tomas Kopecky goal to go up 4-2, but just 40 seconds later the Swedes fired right back with the Ottawa Senators Superstar Daniel Alfredsson used a goal to back within 1. And provided a great challenge to get back in the game when Sweden out shot Slovakia 10-3 in the 3rd period and 29-14 for the game.

The Slovak shot output got lower as the game went on as they got 7 off in the 1st, just 4 in the 2nd and just 3 in the 3rd period. But the Slovaks made their power play count big time as they scored twice with the man advantage and provided a spark on defense to help fend off the Swedes and knock them out.

For Slovakia, this is the best result ever for the team since the split of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the early 90s. The Slovaks will play the host Canadians in Friday's Semifinals. For Slovakia, they have 3 IHWC Medals to their credit in their pretty short history. Gold in 2002, Silver in 200 and a Bronze in Medal in 2003. This will also be their first ever shot at an Olympic Medal in Ice Hockey.

Going into the Semifinals, we have 2 teams in Finland and Slovakia who have never won Olympic Gold. As well as the U.S.A. who are looking to win their first Gold Medal in 30 years. That leaves Canada as the only team with a recent Olympic Gold that they won in 2002 in Salt Lake, City Utah.

Updated Brackets for Friday's Semifinals. Both games are at Canada Hockey Place.

U.S.A. VS Finland 12:00 PM PST

Canada VS. Slovakia 6:30 PM PST

From Lucas Aykroyd of the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Sweden VS. Slovakia Team Photos:

Sweden VS. Slovakia Game Summary:

Farewell Sweden, In the last Men's Quarterfinal, Slovakia advanced to a semi-final meeting on Canada on Friday, edging the 2006 Champs from Turin 4-3. Canada will face Canada, while the U.S.A. will play Finland.

Tomas Kopecky scored the third-period winner, and Pavol Demitra paced the Slovak Attack with a goal and 2 assists. Marian Gaborik and Andrej Sekera added singles, while Marian Hossa had two helpers.

"It is an awesome feeling, beating one of the favorites in the tournament," said Hossa of the 2010 biggest upset to date. "We played well defensively tonight."

Patrick Hornqvist, Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson replied for Sweden. "I don't really have an explanation," said Nicklas Backstrom. "They're a good team." We knew that, but we weren't ready. We didn't play as well as we could have."

"It wasn't a vintage outing for superstar Swedish Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, as Slovakia fired just 14 shots on goal to Sweden's 29. Jaroslav Halak got the win for Slovakia. Heading for it's first Olympic Semifinal appearance, Slovakia is guaranteed a top-four finish and a shot at it's first hockey medal at the games ever. The Slovaks came fifth four years ago in Turin, eliminated by the Czechs in the Quarterfinals after winning five straight in the Group Stage.

Slovakia will host the 2011 Ice Hockey World Championships in Bratislava and Kosice, has only three previous senior IIHF World Championship Medals to its credit, all from the Worlds: Gold in 2002, Silver in 2000, and Bronze in 2003. The game started slowly, but turned into a frenzy of trading chances as time wore on: however, the Slovaks never trailed.

"It's ideal when we get the lead and can play our game, but we weren't able to do that tonight," said Zetterberg. Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky nearly hooked up on a 2-1 in the opening minute, but there weren't many dangerous scoring opportunities as the team cautiously felt each other out. In the first period, the Slovaks failed to capitalize on three power play chances on Sweden's 1.

The Physical intensity increased just before the buzzer, as Slovak captain Zdeno Chara nearly put Henrik Tallinder over the boards with a big hit and Swedish defensemen Mattias Ohlund stood Marian Hossa up at the blueline with a solid-open ice hit.

In the 2nd period, the Slovaks got to Lundqvist in a big way, scoring three times on just 4 shots.

First the Swedes were caught with too many men on the ice, and paid the price. Slovakia opened the scoring at 7:34 with Marian Hossa fed a perfect cross-ice pass on the power play to Gaborik, whose one-timer along the ice beat Lundqvist. It ended the Swedish starter's tournament best shutout streak, which included wins over Belarus (2-0), and Finland (3-0).

Just 37 seconds later, the Slovaks opened up a 2-0 lead when Richard Zednik stepped away on a 2-on-1, feeding a nice backhand pass by the stick of Nicklas Lundstrom to Andrej Sekera, who made no mistake. Zigmund Palffy, who received the second assist, took a hit to make the play, as he was crushed in his own zone by Niklas Kronwall stepping up in vintage fashion.

The Swedes cut the deficit to 2-1 at 13:49 of the 2nd period with some magic courtsey of the suddenly-awakened Peter Forsberg line. From behind the goal line, "Foppa" got his first point of the Olympic Tournament with a perfect backhanded pass to Hornqvist, who in turn lifed a backhanded past Halak's right pad.

Just 37 seconds later, Foresberg bulled his way to the net and distracted Milan Jurcina as Zetterberg's 2-2 goal at 14:26 bounced in off the big Slovak defender. But the Swedish rally wasn't enough. With 48 seconds left in the 2nd period, Demitra put Slovakia up 3-2 on the man advantage with a screened slapshot that whizzed over Lundqvist's left shoulder.

"It was a huge goal by Demitra," said Marian Hossa. "When you score a goal with 3 seconds left in the period, it is a confidence-booster."

The 3rd period witnessed more dramatics. With 11 minutes left, Demitra busted down right wing, fed Marian Hossa on the other side, and Kopecky raced into convert the garbage into a 4-2 Slovak lead. The Swedes weren't done, though. Half a minute later, Nicklas Backstrom grabbed the puck behind the goal-line and fed a sweet centering pass to Alfredsson, who snapped it over Halak's glove to make it 4-3. That was as close as the Tre Kronor would come.

Sweden buzzed Halak's cage in the dying minutes but failed to get the equalizer. The Slovaks mobbed their goalie jubilantly at the final buzzer.

"We beat a quality team tonight," said Chara. "Sweden were outstanding throughout the tournament. We have to enjoy tonight, but great ready for the next one." (Mentioning Canada in the Semifinals).

The Slovaks played without forward Lubos Bartecko, who was concussed on a hit by Norwegian defensemen Ole Kristian Tollefsen in Slovakia 4-3 2nd round win on Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Canada walks all over Russia 7-3, to play Sweden VS. Slovakia Winner Next

What a dominating performance for the Canadians. After a relativity easy game for the Host Team on Thursday night against Germany. The match a lot of people thought would be for the Gold Medal turned into a rout very quickly as the Canadians got goals from all over the ice from Corey Perry who had 2 goals and an assist, to Shea Weber and Sydney Crosby and everyone in between. For Vancouver Goalie Roberto Luongo, it was a retaliative easy night for him but was stellar when called upon.

Russia was just poor all over the ice, from taking to long to change goalies to not matching the Canadian Energy. This was a night where the Russians were sent home and knew it at different parts of the game.

For the most part, Russian Superstar Forwards Alex Ovechkin, Illy Kovalchuk were just disappointing all night and are going to get a mouthful from the Russian Media at home as the Russians were viewed as Canada's biggest challenger during this tournament. This needs to be a wake up call to Russia that performances like this won't be tolorated like this ever at any tournament, much less the Olympics against their biggest rival.

Canada was the better team all over the ice, no doubt about that and this is a highly energized team that has put the problems against Switzerland and the U.S.A. behind them from the Group Stage. This is a team that will put fear into the winner of Sweden VS. Slovakia which is the final game of the night coming up on Friday night in the Semifinals.

Update to Matches for Semifinals on Friday:

U.S.A. VS. Finland 12:00 PM PST @ Canada Hockey Place

Canada VS. Sweden/Slovakia Winner 6:30 PM PST @ Canada Hockey Place

Canada VS. Russia Game Summary:

Canada VS. Russia Photos:

From Andrew Podnieks of the International Ice Hockey Federation Website:

Canada beat Russia for the first time in an Olympics since 1960 (Last 8 Olympics) in dominating fashion, winning 7-3 in a game that was lighting fast although seldom close.

Corey Perry led the way with 2 goals and an assist. In all, six different players scored for Canada. Only in 1960 when Canada beat the Soviet Union by an 8-5 score in Squaw Valley has the nation allowed more goals. Canada will now play the winner in the semi-finals on Friday at 6:30 PM Local Time against tonight's winner of Sweden VS. Slovakia. For the Russians, the 2010 Olympic Tournament is over.

"It was an electric atmosphere", said goalie Roberto Luongo, who is sure to start in the semi-final game. "It was a really fun to play in. With the lead, it was a bit more comfortable."

Canada's strategy was simple: the game is being played on small ice, so play the small ice game. This meant hitting Alexander Ovechkin every time he was near the puck, hitting anything and everything in sight. By the midway mark of the first period, no Russian player wanted to hang onto the puck for very long.

"It was a very physical game on both sides of the puck," said Mike Richards. "Ovie is used to that in the NHL. He's a marked guy everytime he's on the ice."

The Physical play had the Russians reeling from the opening faceoff, and the double whammy was the top-speed creativity the big-banging Canadians displayed once they had possesion. Tic-Tac-Toe passes were the norm on every shift as Russian Goalie Nabokov was sliding east and west trying to figure out who was shooting and who was passing.

Canada opened the scoring at 2:21 when defensemen Dan Boyle tore down the left wing and backhanded a pass to the slot where Getzlaf one-timed it past goalie Nabokov after defensemen Slava Kozlov failed to check Getzlaf with any purpose. The Canadians kept pressing, moving the puck fluidly out of their own end and maintaining possession in the Russian end to create scoring chances. Nabokov looked nervous, and Canadians played Ovechkin with the same physicality as 2004 when he was in the U20 Gold Medal Game.

Alexei Morozov had a good chance on a one-timer on a Russian power play, but he fanned on the shot. Ilya Kovalchuk let go another one timer that made it through traffic, but Luongo came across to make a nice save as the penalty expired.

The frenetic pace continued. Crosby drove hard down the left side and was hauled down by Anton Volchenkov for a penalty. On the ensuing power play a Boyle point shot was deftly redirected by Patrick Marleau through the pads to make a 2-0 Canada lead.

At 12:55 a fast break gave Canada a 3rd goal, Nash finishing off a beautiful passing play up the ice with Jonathan Towes and Mike Richards. Nash lifted the puck over Nabokov just as the goalie sprawled to try the Johnny Bower pokecheck. The astounding and relentless assault forced Russian coach Slava Bykov to call a timeout to try to settle down the team and quiet the crowd.

Indeed, the crowd grew silent, comfortable with the lead, and that's exactly when the Russians got one back at 14:39. Dmitri Kalinin's wrist shot from the point fooled Roberto Luongo and gave the Russians some life. But Canada didn't surrender. The mostly Canadian crowd started up again, and the players continued to attack. The team got that crucial fourth goal late in the period. Brenden Morrow walked out from behind the goal and tried a backhanded wraparound that rolled up Nabokov's body and behind him into the net for a 4-1 lead at 18:18. Shots favored Canada 21-12 in quite possibly the fastest period of hockey ever played.

Canada made it a 5-1 lead at 3:10 of the 2nd period on a harmless looking play when Getzlaf skated in over the blue line surrounded by four Russians. He took a shot that was blocked, but Corey Perry banged home a loose puck past a surprised Nabokov. And still, Bykov left the goalie in the net.

Less then a minute later, Canada got another goal on a center ice turnouver. Shea Weber finished things off with a bullet drive along the ice, off the far post and in at 4:07 to make it 6-1. This forced Nabokov to the showers in favor of IIya Bryzgalov.

Just 39 seconds later, Iiya Kovalchuk from Maxim Afinogenov flying down the right wing. Afinogenov cut in around defensemen Duncan Keith and beat Luonog to the far side to cut the lead to 2 goals. Just when it seemed the Canadians was sitting back and protecting the lead with half a game to play, they struck again on another gorgeous passing play. This time Getzlaf carried the puck in over the Russian line, slipped a pass ahead of Staal who moved it across ice to Perry. Perry's Quick shot to the open side hit the net for his 2nd of the night.

Luongo was called upon to make his best save when Alexander Radulov was open in the slot. Radulov made a nice deke, but Luongo stuck out his left leg to make a great toe save.

A too-many-men penalty gave Russia a power play, and Sergei Gonchar beat Luongo with a long shot to cut the lead in this high scoring game to 7-3. That's how the period ended to the delight of the crowd. Canada killed off an early penalty in the third period and then lost Staal after he collided hard into the end boards chasing down a long pass. No penalty was called on the play, but on the ensuing rush Gonchar drew a hooking penalty. Iginla hit the post on one sequence, but the score remained the same.

Luongo made his mark on the game by stoning Evgeni Malkin on a breakaway at 15:44, kicking out his right pad and sending the crowd into a frenetic "Looo"!

"I thought our energy and execution right from the drop of the puck was phenomenal." Eric Staal noted. "We came out with a jump. We were slowly boiling, and once the puck dropped to start the game, we were ready and firing. We got that goal to get us started right away, and the atmosphere and passion was unbelievable in here. It was a lot of fun out here."

Said a beleaguered Nabokov: "The first goal came too quick. They scored and just kept coming, We were not able to stop them, the SOG (42-28) tells it all."

Canadian Jr. A Playoffs: Pacific Region

It may only be February, but the playoffs are upon us in the Canadian Jr. A Ranks as the Canadian Junior Hockey Leagues (CJHL) have one of the longest and most complex playoff format in the world. In all, 11 leagues make up this level of play in different parts of Canada with over 140 teams playing that started the season back in September, will be cut down to 5 when we reach the RBC Cup in Early May which will be in Dauphin, Manitoba this season.

Here's a quick synopsis of the 2 leagues that make up the playoffs in the Pacific Region.

British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL): With the Conference Top Seeds getting first Round Byes. The playoffs start with the teams ranked 2 through 7 within the Conference. After that, the winners will advance to the Conference Semifinals where the #1 seed will play the lowest remining seed while the #2 and #3 seeds will play each other in the 2nd Round. After the 2nd Round, the Conference Finalist will square off for the Conference Championships who will play for the League Champioships. All matches are best of 7.

Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL): Like in the BCHL, the top seed will get a first round bye while the #2 takes on the #7, #3 against the #6 and the #4 vs. #5. Then after the 1st round, the top seed will play lowest remaining seed while the other two teams will face off in the Divisoin Semifinal. Then in the 3rd Round, the 4 remining teams will cross over where the top 4 seeds will be reseeded as the #1 overall will take on the #4 overall, while the #2 VS. #3 overall seeds will take off. Then Semifinal Winners will face off for the League Championship. The first round will be a best of 5 while the

Doyle Cup: This will be the best of 7 series that will crown the Pacific Region Champions where the Alberta League Champions will have home ice this year as home ice flip flops in this series. The winner will advance to the RBC Cup in Dauphin, Manitoba to play for the National Championship in early May.

All the Series will be a best of 7 Series with 1 excption. The AJHL will use a best of 5 during the 1st Round. The rest of the series will be a best of 7 format.

After the BCHL & AJHL Champions are crowned, the league champions will play for the Doyle Cup which is a best of 7 series In Mid April where the Winner will be crowned Regional Champions. And advance to the 5 team RBC Cup for the National Championship to play the West Region, Ontario Region and Atlantic Region Champions.

In addiditon, the Dauphin Kings who are hosting will get an automatic bid. After finishing with the MJHL's best record this season, they look for the rare feat of winning the RBC Cup on home soil.

Here's a look at the Final Standings and Playoff Matchups in the BCHL & AJHL.

British Columbia Hockey League Final Standings

Costal Conference

1. Alberni Valley 60 GP 45-12-1-2 93 PTS 233-145

2. Powell River 60 GP 36-17-1-6 79 PTS 216-160

3. Victoria 60 GP 34-18-2-6 76 PTS 220-175

4. Langley 60 GP 33-22-2-3 71 PTS 226-209

5. Surrey 60 GP 30-24-0-6 66 PTS 196-190

6. Nanaimo 60 GP 24-25-1-10 59 PTS 197-204

7. Cowichan Valley 60 GP 25-32-0-3 53 PTS 181-243

8. Burnaby 60 GP 18-36-0-6 42 PTS 175-256

Interior Conference

1. Vernon 60 GP 51-6-0-3 105 PTS 298-119

2. Penticton 60 GP 48-8-0-4 100 PTS 284-143

3. Westside 60 GP 38-18-1-3 80 PTS 244-173

4. Salom Arm 60 GP 29-25-3-3 64 PTS 227-227

5. Quesnel 60 GP 22-32-0-6 50 PTS 208-245

6. Trail 60 GP 20-32-1-7 48 PTS 216-271

7. Merritt 60 GP 22-36-0-2 46 PTS 215-319

8. Prince George 60 GP 18-37-1-4 41 PTS 210-270

9. Williams Lake 60 GP 10-49-1-0 21 PTS 157-354

Clinched 1st Round Byes

Clinched Playoff Spots

BCHL Playoff Matchups

Costal Conference Quarterfinals

#2 Powell River Kings VS. #7 Cowichan Valley Capitals

#3 Victoria Grizzlies VS. #6 Nanaimo Clippers

#4 Langley Chiefs VS. #5 Surrey Eagles

Conference Semifinals

#1 Alberni Valley Bulldogs VS. Lowest Seeded Quarterfinal Winner

#2 Seeded Team VS. #3 Seeded Team

Interior Conference

Conference Quarterfinals

#2 Penticton Vees VS. #7 Merritt Centenials

#3 Westside Warriors VS. #6 Trail Smoke Eaters

#4 Salom Arm Silverbacks VS. #5 Quesnel Millionaires

Conference Semifinals

#1 Vernon Vipers VS. Lowest Seeded Quarterfinal Winner

#2 Seeded Team VS. #3 Seeded Team

Here's the Full Playoff Bracket:

Alberta Junior Hockey League Final Standings

North Division

1. Spruce Grove 60 GP 52-4-1-3 108 PTS 252-99

2. Grande Prairie 60 GP 40-17-1-2 83 PTS 233-174

3. Ft. Mcmurray 60 GP 37-19-1-3 78 PTS 235-168

4. Sherwood Park 60 GP 33-18-2-7 75 PTS 206-181

5. Bonnyville 60 GP 27-29-2-2 58 PTS 175-190

6. St. Albert 60 GP 24-29-2-5 55 PTS 218-260

7. Lloydminister 60 GP 19-32-2-7 47 PTS 173-220

8. Drayton Valley 60 GP 12-42-3-3 30 PTS 139-269

South Division

1. Okotoks 60 GP 38-18-1-3 80 PTS 249-187

2. Camrose 60 GP 32-17-4-7 75 PTS 201-170

3. Olds 60 GP 30-23-2-5 67 PTS 189-185

4. Calgary Canucks 60 GP 29-27-3-1 62 PTS 214-225

5. Brooks 60 GP 28-27-1-4 61 PTS 218-205

6. Canmore 60 GP 26-26-3-5 60 PTS 202-217

7. Calgary Royals 60 GP 21-29-2-8 52 PTS 213-255

8. Drumheller 60 GP 17-37-0-6 40 PTS 157-269

AJHL Playoff Matchups

North Division 1st Round

#2 Grande Prairie Storm VS. #7 Lloydminster Bobcats

#3 Ft. Mcmurray Oil Barons VS. #6 St. Albert Steel

#4 Sherwood Park Crusaders VS. #5 Bonnyville Pontiacs

North Division 2nd Round

#1 Spurce Groove Saints VS. Lowest Seeded 1st Round Winner

#2 Seeded Team VS. #3 Seeded Team

South Division 1st Round

#2 Camrose Kodiaks VS. #7 Calgary Royals

#3 Olds Grizzlies VS. #6 Canmore Eagles

#4 Calgary Canucks VS. #5 Brooks Bandits

South Division 2nd Round

#1 Okotoks Oilers VS. 4th Seeded Team

#2 Seeded Team VS. #3 Seeded Team

Alberta Junior Hockey League Playoff Bracket:

Zach Parise beats out Hiller, Sends U.S.A. to Semifinals

At times today, it seemed like Jonas Hiller was standing on his head keeping it scoreless through 2 periods despite the U.S.A. out shooting Switzerland 32-8 through 2 periods. But Zach Parise who after Ryan Miller, maybe has been the best player for Team U.S.A. during the Olympic Tournament to send them to Semifinals who will play the lowest reaming seed during Friday's Semifinals at Canada Hockey Place.

You have got to give Switzerland and Jonas Hiller in particular a lot of props from getting to 3 OT games including forcing Canada to a SO.

Also giving the U.S.A. two stellar games where they proved they have been one of the fasting improving teams in the world. It's only a matter of time before Switzerland I think will finally break through and win an International Medal. After a strong performance in the WJC as they got to the Semifinals, and a strong showing in the Olympics for the 2nd straight time.

Despite not getting the massive upsets like they did in 2006, they have succeeded in letting the world know that 2006 was no joke. If Switzerland can start getting more players in the NHL, watch out for the Swiss to contend for an Olympic Medal in the near future. One player to watch out for in the near future could be Nino Niederreiter who had a strong showing for the Swiss for the Junior Team at the WJC and has had a great season with the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.

The Swiss have two more shots at hockey glory this season at the U18 World Championships which will be in Belarus in April. Then in May is the Ice Hockey World Championships which will be in the German Cities of Mannheim, Colonge, and Gelsenkirchen where a world Record Attempt will be look to be set during Germany's Opening game of the IHWC. Expect the Swiss to be strong at both events in the spring.

For the Americans, this game was big that they can play against a desperate team that was looking to pull off a big upset. The Young American Players, especially guys like Ryan Miller, Zach Parise and Brian Rafalski who are playing in their First Olympics are showing that they can get it done against the best in the world.

Next up will be either the Czech Republic or Finland who finished with the Silver and Bronze Medals in 2006, the Americans have shown that playing teams in the Prelims and Quarterfinals that these guys are that good. Now they await they toughest test yet as they look to take down teams that are looking to win Gold after coming so close 4 years ago in Turin, Italy.

Next up for the U.S.A. will be the lowest remaining seeded team in the Semifinals coming up on Friday afternoon. With the win today by Team U.S.A., they will be guaranteed a chance at a medal this year. The Bronze Medal Game is on Saturday Night at 7:00 PM PST, then on Sunday afternoon is the Gold Medal Game as it's the final major event of these Winter Olympic Closing Ceremonies on Sunday Night.

From John Sanful of the International Ice Hockey Federation Website:

From Vancouver: The Americans dodged a bullet on Wednesday afternoon. Switzerland threatened to beat the U.S.A. since the 1948 Winter Olympic Games, but Zach Parise's power play goal in the third period gave the U.S.A. a 2-0 win, moving into the Semifinals against the Winner of the Czech Republic VS. Finland Game later tonight.

This was not the ideal scenario for Team U.S.A. After coming off a big win over Canada to finish atop Prelim Group A, Team U.S.A. entered this game meeting an opponent they've already beaten on the opening day of the Men's Tournament.

Prior to this game these teams have played each other 6 times in Olympic play with the U.S.A. winning all 6 prior games. But the Swiss would have none of it, Switzerland has grown accustomed to playing closely contested games. Their last 3 games have gone into OT and two shootouts. They played like a team that had nothing to lose, taking the play to the Americans.

"It was good to go into the intermission with a 0-0 game," said Yannick Weber. "I think it would have been different if it was 1-0." I think it gave us some confidence. We went out in the third period to get the win." It was close, but it just wasn't our day."

Team U.S.A. started tentatively, turning over the puck their first pass out of their zone. In addition there were several individual efforts that were unsuccessful. Rather then dump the puck and go after it, a few skaters tried to stickhandle through Swiss players, which was hardly effective.

The Swiss was rentless in pursuit of the puck. They enjoyed several odd-man rushes. Despite only four shots in the 1st period, the Swiss would also threaten, including one shift where Raffaele Sannitz had exceptional chances to score and delivered a big hit.

It was the Jonas Hiller Show today. Ryan Miller had to be extra sharp today as he faced odd man rushes and high percentage shots from the Swiss, whe were playing with incredible confidence. Miller was poised in goal. Jonas Hiller also stood strong for his team in goal, making 18 saves in the first period alone and keeping the Americans off the scoreboard.

In the 2nd period, Phil Kessel had the best chance for the Americans for the Americans when he sent a shot that rang off the post and crossbar. With time running out in the 2nd period, the Americans through that Dustin Brown had scored near the end of the 2nd. Hiller made a save then as the puck was in the air tried to bat it upwards, which he did but it went over his shoulder and on the goal line with no time left on the clock.

The play was reviewed and the officials concluded no goal.

"I was upset about the disallowed goal more then anything," said Ryan Kesler. "I though it was in. I didn't hear the horn until afterwards."

After two periods of play the Americans and Swiss remained tied. It appeared the inexperience and nerves of Team U.S.A. may have gotten the best of them. Only a big 3rd period would change things.

"It was good to go into the intermission with a 0-0 game," said Yannick Weber. "I think it would have been different if it was a 1-0. I think it game us some confidence. We went out in the 3rd period to get the win. It was close, but just wasn't our day."

The American Power Play was out of sync until the third period when Zach Parise put his team on the board when Philippe Furrer was called for Tripping.

Parise tapped his stick on the ice in front of Hiller, expecting a good low shot could be redirected. Brian Rafalski's shot was deflected by Parise over Hiller's glove and slowly dribbled into the net.

Swiss Assistant Captain, Sandy Jeannin appeared to have tied the game a few minutes later. Instant Replay showed that his shot hit the post and roll across the goal line, but didn't cross over the goal line. Parise had another chance but hit the post. Team U.S.A. picked up things significantly in the 3rd period. They were skating much more effectively and creating quality scoring chances.

"It'd be a lot less nerve wracking [to win big]," said Rafalski. "But it's good for our guys. It's a sign of maturity that we didn't panic. We didn't sit back, we continued to create chances."

The Swiss would not let up. With less then two minutes remaining they called a timeout to pull Jonas Hiller, but Parise scored his 2nd on an empty net. Now the Americans can take a breath and watch tonight's game at the UBC Thunderbird Arena to find out who they will play in Friday's Semifinal.

"Right now, we sit back and watch the Finns and Czechs play," said Rafalski. "We've run into Finland a lot over the years in recent international events, the Czechs, not so much. The Finns have good, deep goaltending, and both teams have good forwards. "It'll be a tough night either way".

Look for the Canada VS. Russia Game Report Later Tonight, then the Czech Republic VS. Finland and Sweden VS. Slovakia Game Reports tomorrow.

Offical Game Report:

Game Photos:

Twitter Updates during Olympic Quarterfinals and Tomorrow's Women's Gold Medal Game

Just like for a part of the 2nd Round Games yesterday. I will be once again be doing Twitter Updates during the Quarterfinals of today's Men's Games, then tomorrow, it's the Women's Gold Medal Game as the U.S.A. & Canada will play for the Olympic Gold for the 3rd time in the Women's Hockey Tournament History.

Today's Quarterfinals

U.S.A. VS. Switzerland 12:00 PM PST

Russia VS. Canada 4:30 PM PST

Finland VS. Czech Republic 7:00 PM PST

Sweden VS. Slovakia 9:00 PM PST

Tomorrow's Women's Gold Medal Game

U.S.A. VS. Canada 4:30 PM PST

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Twitter Updates during the Olympic Tournament 2nd Round

Throughout the day today, I'm going to post udates of the 2nd round games as the teams will look to advance to the Quarterfinals. Right now, Switzerland and Belarus are tied at 1-1 at the 1st intermission as the winner will look to play the top seeded U.S.A. in tomorrow's Quarterfinals. Other 2nd Round Games include Canada VS. Germany, Slovakia VS. Norway and Czech Republic VS. Latvia.

Switzerland VS. Belarus In Progress

Canada VS. Germany 4:30 PM PST

Czech Republic VS. Latvia 7:00 PM PST

Slovakia VS. Norway 9:00 PM PST

Team Canada Shuts out Finland, To Play the U.S.A. For Gold on Thursday

After the U.S.A. crushed Sweden, Canada used the 2nd semifinal to get a shutout against Finland to play for Gold against arch rival U.S.A. for the Gold Medal on Thursday night.

From Lucas Aykroyd of the International Ice Hockey Federation Website:

The Canadian Women overcame a sparkling performance by Finnish Goaile Noora Raty, by winning 5-0 in Monday's 2nd Semifinal at Canada Hockey Place. The result sets up a classic U.S.A. VS. Canada Gold Medal Game on Thursday night.

Thanks to Ratys heroics, the score was closer then expected for most of the night, despite Canada's 50-11 edge in SOG. "I think it was like one of the best performances I've ever had", said Raty.

2010 marks the third time the North American Superpowers will battle for gold since Women's Hockey was introduced as an Olympic Sport back in 1998. The Americans beat Canada 3-1 that year in Nagano, while the Canadians claimed the title on Salt Lake City on 2002 with a 3-2 victory.

"It's an Olympic Final Game, and that's when we've been working toward all year," said Canada's Jennifer Botterill. "Were excited, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we're going to enjoy it."

VS. Finland, Haley Irwin stepped up with two goals for Canada, and tournament scoring leader Meghan Agosta with 14 points (9G 5A) chipped in a goal and assist. Agosta sets a new record for most goals in One Olympic Tournament when she plotted her 9th of 2010 in the 2nd period. That surpassed retired Canadian great Danielle Goyette's mark of 8 back in 1998.

Canada is the defending Olympic Champion from Turin 2006, where it defeated Sweden 4-1 in the final. In Monday's early Semifinal, the Americans got revenge on Swedes, who knocked them out of title contention in Turin, spanking Sweden 9-1.

"In some ways, it was a little disappointing we didn't get to face the Americans in the 2006 Olympics," said Canadian veteran Jayna Hefford, who scored the gold medal winning goal in 2002. "Of course, you'll take a gold medal anyday over facing a particular team, but you know what? Canada-U.S.A. is something people love to watch and we love to play in. It's going to be a great battle on Thursday night.

Canada heads into the final with a whopping goal differential of 46-2 in 4 games so far. However, it failed to capitalize on the Power Play against Finland, even though the blue and white women took six minor penalty in the game.

"The Finns played a tough, in your face game and they were good with their sticks in the lanes," said Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser. "They made it hard for us to generate momentum, and their goalie was excellent. They gave us probably the best game they could with the skills they have."

"We just battled and we didn't quit," said Raty. Facing Sweden in Thursday's Bronze Medal game, will seek it's first Olympic Women's Hockey Medal since winning Bronze in 1998. The Diminutive but tenacious Finns did their best to clog up the middle and clear loose pucks out of their end, but simply couldn't generate enough offensively to support Raty's great play. They'd acknowledged before this game that ousting Canada would be a "humongous task", and it proved to be too much for them.

Finland starved off Canada's untill the 5:22 mark, when Agosta swirled around the Finnish net and centered a sweet backhand feed to Cherile Piper, who banged it past Raty. At 14:36, Just after a Finnish Penalty had expired, Haley Irwin picked up a loose puck in Raty's goal crease and shoveled it past the netminder's right skate for a 2-0 lead. The Canadians outshot Finland 15-2 in the 1st period.

The host team continued to press in the middle frame, and the Finnish netminder had to keep her best mini-Mikka Kiprusoff impression. Even though Raty Stonned Sarah Vaillancourt on a rebound at the end of an early power play and slid across to make a great glove save on Gina Kingsbury, she couldn't stop Agosta at 16:21 when the Ruthven, Ontario Native scooped in a rebound with the teams playing 4-on-4 when the buzzer sounded, the shots were 32-5 in favor of Canada.

Raty stopped Agosta on a partial breakaway early in the third period. But at 4:23, Irwin scored her 2nd of the game on a rebound that deflected in off the goalie's to make it 4-0. Wickenheiser put the puck off the post on a late solo rush. Jenni Hiirikoski was shaken up on a collision deep in the Finnish end with Gillian Apps with 4 minutes left.

Canadian Fans sang a spontaneous rendition of "O Canada" as the clock ticked down, and Caroline Ouellette rounded out the scoring with 1:03 left to make it 5-0.

With the Gold Medal Game looming, the Americans are the two time defending World Champion, but the Canada has the edge in exhibition leading up to the Vancouver Olympics.

"We know exactly what [Team USA's] motivation is going to be," said Hefford. "We've heard it many times. It's going to be Salt Lake, and it's going to be the "Miracle on Ice". Good for them, That's their experience. Our Experience as Canadian Hockey players is completely different, and we're so proud here in Canada. This crowd is giving us energy every night."

Netminder Shannon Szabados earned her first shutout of the tournament for Canada. "This team played well in front of me, and it's really exciting," said Szabados. "I didn't get many shots in the early going, which makes it tough to stay focused mentally. "You have to find ways to keep yourself occupied, because all these teams are good and they're going to get their chances eventually."

This was the third straight Olympic Semi-Final Victory for Canada over Finland. (7-3 in 2002, 6-0 in 2006).

2nd Round Olympic Match Previews

The Knockout Rounds of the Men's Olympic Tournament begin today with the 4 2nd Round Games where the winners will advance to play the Quarterfinal Teams as Team U.S.A., Sweden, Russia and Finland earned 2nd Round Byes by winning the Groups and having the best 2nd Place Team.

The Quarterfinals are tomorrow, the Semifinals are on Friday. And then the Medals will be awarded out on the Final Weekend of the Olympics, as the Bronze Medal Game will be on Saturday, then the Gold Medal Game will be one of the final big events of the Winter Olympics before the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday Night.

#8 Switzerland VS. #9 Belarus, 12:00 PM @ Hockey Canada Place

The Swiss have been a very tricky opponent in these games giving the U.S.A. all it can muster in the tournament opener and forcing Canada in a SO before beating Norway back on Saturday.

For the Swiss, Anahiem Ducks Goalie Jonas Hiller have given teams all it can handle while trying to help a team that is mostly European Based, espeically from the Swiss NLA which has been one of the biggest improving leagues in Europe over the last decade.

Just one player has scored mulitplie goals and thats Roman Wick who has 4 points (2G 2A) during the Group Stage where he scored at least 1 point all 3 games and where he will need to be a spart in the Swiss Offense to help them advance to the Quarterfinals.

Among the defensemen for the Swiss are players like Mart Streit and Luca Sbisa who's one of the youngest players in this tournament at 20 years old has provided to be a spark on the physicality aspect of the game and could bully the small Belarus forwards around.

Belarus like Switzerland came back from a bad start against Sweden and Finland. However, the offense of Belarus has been more steady. For Belarus, look for Dynamo Minsk forward Dmitri Meleshko who has been easily the best player for Belarus where he has been giving opposing teams defenses headaches as he scored both goals in their game against Sweden and has been one of the top scores in the tournament with Sergei Kostitsyn who's leading the team with 5 points (2G 3A).

Their team defense has been questioned at times, but if you look at the results. They have been getting better, starting out with a 5-1 loss to Finland, then a 4-2 loss where they made it very tricky for Sweden as they were down 3-2 at one point with just 8 minutes left in the game. Sweden didn't secure the game till the final 10 seconds when Daniel Alfredsson scored an empty netter to win the game 4-2.

Then you have the Germany game where the defense could come into question where Belarus was up 3-1 midway through the game, but the Germans were given hope as Marcel Goc and John Tripp scored goals just under a minute apart to tie the game at 3-3. Then in the final 6 minutes, Aleksei Kalyuzhny and Ruslan Salei scored to win 5-3 for Belarus. Expect this game to be one of the more exicting 2nd Round Matchups and look to give the Americans fits in the Quarterfinals.

Bottom Line: These teams are probably the best of the non powerhouses in this tournament. But with the experience in goal and a stronger team defense. I think the Swiss Experience will help in this game where the Swiss will advance to set up a rematch with the U.S.A. in the Quarterfinals.

My Pick: Switzerland 4 Belarus 2

#6 Canada VS. #11 Germany 4:30 PM PST @ Hockey Canada Place

After a dissapointing Group Stage, the Canadaians will look to put the opening round behind them as the Host Canada will take on Germany. For Germany, the only reason they not the last seed is because Latvia got blown out in their games while at least the Germans were able to keep it close. Don't expect to see very much out of this game as the Canadains have some anger to work out after the loss against the U.S.A. on Sunday night where the Russians could await them in tomorrow's Quarterfinals.

If the Germans are going to have any hope in this game, expect Thomas Greiss of the Worcester Sharks (AHL) to be in the game and he will need to play the game of his life to have any kind of a chance to advance to face Russia in the Quarterfinals.

For Canada, they need to regain focus, have their veteran talent comeup and Roberto Lugano needs to take over this game and prove to Martin Broduer who didn't have a great match against the U.S.A. that he can take over the goaltending duties for the rest of the tournament.

Bottom Line: It will be another end to a very disapointing tournament and a blow to Germany's hopes as they get ready to host the Ice Hockey World Championships coming up in May. Canada is just simply to fast, to strong and to experienced to allow someone like Germany to knock them out. They will need to crush the Germans and get ready for Russia most likely in the Quarterfinals tomorrow.

My Pick: Canada 6 Germany 1

#5 Czech Republic VS. #12 Latvia 7:00 PM @ UBC Thunderbird Arena

After just missing out on a 2nd round bye because the Czechs weren't able to get a full leged blowout that Slovakia and Russia were able to get. This will be the only rematch of the 2nd Round as the Czechs were able to beat Latvia 5-2 back on 2/19. On the contry, Russia was able to win 8-2, while Slovakia put up a 6-0 shutout victory to help them stay in the race to win the group.

Of the last 3 Olympic Winter Games that Latvia has been in. This has cleary been the weakest of the 3 as they have just 1 full time NHL'er as Karlis Skrastins of the Dallas Stars have been doing his best to work on the tournament, but hasen't been able to step up his game to help his less experienced teammates (Many of whom play in the KHL). 4 years ago, they were at least able to pull a tie from the U.S.A. and keep their other games at least close. Latvia has had 3 blowouts and given up 19 goals in the 3 games.

The Czechs bring a powerhouse of talent that is looking to get back on the podium after finnishing with the Bronze Medal back in 2006. With NHL Talent like Milan Michalek, Tomas Plekanec and Tomas Vokoun in net.

This veteran group, esepically the talent that's been in the NHL for well over a decade and been in several Olympics, for some, this could be their last chance to bring home an Olympic Medal in their careers. They would look to find the magic that helped them win Gold in 1998 when the Olympic Games were held in Japan.

Bottom Line: Like the CAN VS. GER Game, expect this one to be a big blowout as the Czechs have already played the Latvians. However, unlike the 1st game, Latvia looks fatigued and just dosen't have the talent to stay in this game. This one won't be close and I would expect the Czechs to have a big first period in this one, so they can give their top players more of a rest and to get them ready for tomorrow's Quarterfinal Matchup.

My Pick: Czech Republic 9 Latvia 1

#7 Slovakia VS. #10 Norway 9:00 PM @ Canada Hockey Place

After being outscored 14-1 in the first 2 games against the U.S.A. & Canada. Norway came back with a nice performance against Switzerland in a back and fourth game where Switzerland won in OT. Despite the losses (8-0 against CAN, 6-1 against USA), they have been able to keep games close through the 2nd intermission as players like Tore Vikingstad, Patrick Thorsen and goaltender Pal Grotnes have fustrated oppoents and the stragtey they have used has been working as the team is back in the Olympic Tournament for the first time since 1994.

If the Norwigaens are going to look for an upset, Tore Vikingstad will need to have an encore performance where he had the tournaments only hat trick so far. Other guys that will need to help set up Vikingstad and hopefully get involved in the scoring themselves are Patrick Thoresen who has 3 assists.

However, it's the defense that's playing better with every game in this tournament with players like Jonos Holos and Mats Trygg have been fantasitic in playing in nearly every situation imiagable as both players played over 25 minutes in their game against Switzerland.

Expect Pal Grotnes to start in net as he as played all but 15:31 of this tournament for Norway, the only game he got pulled in was 4 minutes into the game against Canada when Canada was up 4-0.

Slovakia missed a chance to improve their seeding situation with a 3-1 loss against the Czechs to open the tournament. They were able to beat Russia in a SO, but that loss has put them in a tough situation as they could have gotten at least a 5 or 6 seed if they were able to take advantage of when Alexander Ovechkin and Fedor Tyutin got penalites late in the 2nd and early in the 3rd where they could have taken the lead after trailing 1-0 at the 2nd intermission. Marian Hossa was able to to score SVK only goal of regulation midway through the 3rd period.

Then in the SO, SVK was able to win the SO 2-1 with goals by Pavol Demitra and Jozef Stumpel scored. Alexander Ovechkin was the only Russian player to score in the SO, but it came to little to late in the as Stumpel scored on his next turn, goalie Jaroslav Halak was able to turnaside 6 of 7 shots to win the game.

SVK will needs to be able to get through the Norway Gridlock early on to break away from the Norway's tough defense. If not, this could be the best of the 2nd Round Showdowns and will need to increase their offensive output from their star players like Zigmund Palffy and Richard Zednik. In goal, expect SVK to go with the young 24 year old Jaroslav Halak who's been enjoying a nice run for the Montreal Canadaiens this season. But if he has problems, they can go with Peter Budaj to help them out in a possible secarnio.

Botton Line: This could be the best of the 2nd Round Games. If Norway can contuine to put the fustrations into their oppostion like they did against Switzerland. And if someone like Tore Vikingstad or Patrick Thorsen can come alive, this could be the big upset of the 2nd round. I think SVK will win this game, but don't expect NOR to make it easy and they will give them a challenge to advance to the Quarterfinals.

My Pick: Slovakia 3 Norway 2 (OT)

My Projected Quarterfinal Matchups.

#1 U.S.A. VS. #8 Switzerland

#2 Sweden VS. #7 Slovakia

#3 Canada VS. #6 Russia

#4 Finland VS. #5 Czech Republic

2/20 Boxscores and Game Stories Part 2

Here's part 2 from the Scores from last Saturday night.

NCAA Scores

Atlantic Hockey

Sacred Heart 5 Holy Cross 3 (1-0, 1-2, 3-1)

Army Academy 2 Mercyhurst 4 (1-0, 1-2, 0-2)

Air Force Academy 0 RIT 3 (0-0, 0-3, 0-0)

U-Conn 2 Bentley 4 (1-1, 0-2, 1-1)

American Int. 2 Canisius 2 (OT) (0-0, 0-1, 2-1, 0-0)


Northern Michigan 4 Michigan 5 (1-0, 1-3, 2-2)

Ferris State 2 Michigan State 3 (1-1, 1-1, 0-1)

Lake Superior 1 Alaska 5 (0-1, 1-1, 0-3)

Ohio State 4 Western Michigan 3 (SO) (1-2, 1-0, 1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Nebraska-Omaha 4 Miami of Ohio 2 (1-1, 1-1, 2-0)

Norte Dame 1 Bowling Green 2 (SO) (0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1)


Robert Morris 3 Alabama-Huntsville 4 (2-1, 1-0, 0-3)

Niagara 1 Bemijdi State 6 (0-3, 0-2, 1-1)


Princeton 7 Rensselaer 0 (1-0, 3-0, 3-0)

Cornell 4 Dartmouth 5 (3-1, 0-0, 1-4)

St. Lawrence 2 Brown 2 (OT) (1-0, 1-0, 0-2, 0-0)

Quinnipiac 3 Union 7 (1-2, 1-2, 1-3)

Clarkson 4 Yale 5 (OT) (1-0, 2-1, 1-3, 0-1)

Colgate 4 Harvard 2 (1-0, 1-1, 2-1)

Hockey East

Vermont 3 New Hampshire 3 (OT) (0-2, 3-0, 0-1, 0-0)

Mass.-Lowell 4 Maine 2 (1-1, 1-0, 2-1)

Providence 1 Boston University 2 (0-0, 1-0, 0-2)

Merrimack 3 U-Mass 0 (0-0, 2-0, 1-0)


Minnesota-Duluth 1 North Dakota 5 (0-2, 1-1, 0-2)

Colorado College 4 Minnesota 7 (1-3, 1-2, 2-2)

St. Cloud State 4 Wisconsin 7 (1-2, 1-2, 2-3)

Michigan Tech 3 Denver 5 (1-4, 2-1, 0-0)

Alaska-Anchorange 3 Minnesota State 4 (1-2, 1-1, 1-1)

U.S.A. Junior Scores

United States Hockey League

Cedar Rapids Roughriders 5 USNTDP 2 (3-1, 2-1, 0-0)

Omaha Lancers 3 Youngstown Phantoms 1 (0-1, 3-0, 0-0)

Tri-City Storm 1 Des Moines Buccaneers 4 (0-0, 1-2, 0-2)

Sioux City Musketeers 1 Waterloo Blackhawks 3 (0-2, 0-1, 1-0)

Sioux Falls Stampede 1 Chicago Steel 0 (1-0, 0-0, 0-0)

Indiana Ice 7 Fargo Force 4 (3-0, 2-0, 2-4)

Green Bay Gamblers 4 Lincoln Stars 3 (OT) (1-2, 1-1, 1-0, 1-0)

North American Hockey League

Janesville Jets 4 Traverse City North Stars 3 (0-1, 3-2, 1-0)

Alpena Ice Diggers 4 Motor City Metal Jackets 3 (OT) (1-0, 1-3, 1-0, 1-0)

Topeka Roadrunners 4 Albert Lea Thunder 0 (1-0, 0-0, 3-0)

Owatonna Express 3 Alexandria Blizzard 4 (0-1, 3-2, 0-1)

St. Louis Bandits 4 Wichita Falls Wildcats 5 (SO) (2-2, 1-0, 1-2, 0-0, 0-1)

North Iowa Outlaws 2 Bismarck Bobcats 3 (OT) (0-0, 1-2, 1-0, 0-1)

Texas Tornado 2 Wenatchee Wild 5 (2-2, 0-1, 0-2)

Fairbanks Icedogs 5 Alaska Avalanche 1 (1-1, 0-0, 4-0)