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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: What’s next for Russia?

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Les Canadiennes hang their banners, the Pride get another win and college hockey winds down for the break.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 9 - Russia v Japan
Olga Sosina (#18) and Anna Shokhina (#29) may be two of the stars of the Russian national team in Pyeongchang
Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Story of the week

TASS: Sport - IOC bans for life six players from Russian national women’s ice hockey team
The International Olympic Committee has published new decisions from the Oswald Commission hearings

Shokhina cleared of doping charge by IOC but six Russian ice hockey players sanctioned
Russian ice hockey player Anna Shokhina has been cleared of wrongdoing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Disciplinary Commission following investigation into alleged doping at Sochi 2014, it was announced today.

Russian Olympic Committee vote unanimously to compete under neutral flag at Pyeongchang 2018
The Russian Olympic Committee has voted unanimously to agree to let the country's athletes compete under a neutral flag at Pyeongchang 2018.

To be quite honest I would love to have a much more solid understanding of the repercussions of the IOC’s decision last week about Olympic participation for Russia in general and the decision this week about the Russian women’s hockey team specifically. However, it cannot be denied that this is the story of the week, so I am going to throw links at you and summarize some of the issues as I understand them, plus put out some questions.

Six members of the 2014 Russian Olympic Women’s National Hockey Team have been banned for life from the Olympics: Inna Dyubanok, Ekaterina Lebedeva, Ekaterina Pashkevich, Anna Shibanova, Ekaterina Smolentseva and Galina Skiba. The team as a whole has been retroactively disqualified from the 2014 Olympics and their sixth-place finish is no longer valid.

The IOC are allowing “clean” Russian athletes to compete in Pyeongchang under the name "Olympic Athletes from Russia".

Putin has declared that Russia will not boycott the games and Russian athletes will be allowed to participate.

The Russian Olympic Committee has voted to send Russian athletes to the Olympics. They won’t have the last word on who specifically is allowed to go, the IOC must approve all Russian athletes. (While this sounds good, what sort of state financial and infrastructure support will they receive? Is it feasible to go if they don’t get that?)

Only three of the banned players (Dyubanok, Shibanova and Skiba) are current members of the Russian women’s national team participating in the Pre-Olympic Cup in Finland this week (s/t to Meredith Foster, who people should follow on twitter for updates on the tournament). If everything else remains the same in terms of resources available and coaching staff, the decision may not have much of an effect on the quality of the Russian team’s play in South Korea.

Will the IIHF or the IOC revisit any recent drug tests from international competitions, potentially disqualifying other members of the the current national team?

Will any of the current team choose not to go to Pyeongchang in protest?

What happens if Russia doesn’t pay the fines imposed by the IOC before the Games?

Rankings for the 2018 Olympics were based on the 2016 world rankings. The points between Russia (ranked fourth, and last in Group A) and Sweden (ranked fifth, and first in group B) were very close. As rankings are determined by a formula that weights each team’s results over the previous four years of tournaments, completely stripping Russia of the points from its sixth place finish at Sochi might affect the Olympic rankings. Will the IIHF choose to revisit the math? If so, will the math make a difference? Would Sweden regret it bitterly if they had to compete in Group A in South Korea? (Yes, yes they would.)

It does look extremely likely that there will be a Russian women’s hockey team at Pyeongchang, meaning that one somewhat extreme scenario — Germany moving into a free Olympic spot at the last minute to balance the groups won’t come to pass. Beyond that, there’s still a lot we don’t know.

Other than the current tournament, places to look to check out who might be added to the national team in place of the three banned players would be the Women’s Hockey League All-Star Game, the 2018 Nations Cup, and the 2018 Women’s World Under-18 Championships, which Russia is hosting this year.

More Russian women’s hockey:

Olga Sosina Interview! | CONWAY'S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
If you would like a bit of weekend reading, I invite you to check out my translation of an interview from this past week with Russian women’s national team and Agidel Ufa forward Olga Sosina.

International hockey

Annie Pankowski first player cut from USA centralization roster - The Ice Garden
Team needs two more cuts to get to 23-player roster for 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Croatia bounces back
Croatia made a successful return to IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship action with victory in the Division II Group B Qualification tournament in Sofia.

Team Canada ready for 2018 Nations Cup
These players are part of the up-and-coming Canadian talent that we are tracking as we look towards next year’s IIHF Women’s World Championship and beyond to the 2022 Games.

CWHL

Markham Thunder win 2-1 Toronto Furies lose 7-1 to Montreal - Pension Plan Puppets
Kristen Barbara is the hero of the game for the Thunder.

Markham Thunder sweep Boston Blades, Canadiennes sweep Toronto Furies - Pension Plan Puppets
Taylor Woods scores twice to beat Boston, Noémie Marin has a hat trick against Toronto

‘There are no words to describe how great it feels’: Les Canadiennes celebrate banner raising - Eyes On The Prize
The four-time Clarkson Cup champions raised banners for each of their championships for the first time

NWHL

NWHL Recap: Week 6 - The Ice Garden
The Pride find their offense and the Beauts unravel in another third period.

Kaleigh Fratkin returns to the NWHL, signs with Boston Pride - The Ice Garden
Boston Pride head coach Thomas Poeck confirms that Fratkin has joined the Pride.

The Whale are plugging holes in their ship - The Ice Garden
The Connecticut Whale are all on board for the NWHL’s third season.

Connecticut Whale: Behind the Mask with Sydney Rossman
Sydney Rossman: "I think we’ve surprised some people already with our 2 wins & our tough battles. I’m going to do my best to keep the puck out of the net."

NCAA

Polls: USCHO | USA Today | The Ice Garden

Terriers & Bulldogs Meet, Bach Scores Four – DFP Sports
In non conference play Yale hosted Boston University on Thursday night. Despite each team putting 32 shots on net, the Terriers had he upper hand on the score sheet tallying 5 goals to Yale's 2.

Weekend wrap: Dec. 10 :: USCHO.com Blogs :: D-I Women's Hockey Blog :: U.S. College Hockey Online
Nicole Haase recaps this weekend's games over at USCHO.

Boston College Women's Hockey Defeats Merrimack - The Heights
Kenzie Kent scored twice, and Boston College women's hockey extended its NCAA-best eight-game unbeaten streak with a 4-1 win over Merrimack.

Halfway Kaz: Mid-season Patty Kazmaier Award hopefuls - The Ice Garden
At the unofficial halfway point of the season, who stands out as a hopeful for the NCAA’s top prize?

Mauermann piling up points, awards for UW women's hockey | GazetteXtra
Janesville native continues strong play for University of Wisconsin women's hockey team to win WCHA weekly, monthly awards

Former Terrier Women’s Ice Hockey Star Returns as Assistant Coach | BU Today | Boston University
Former women’s ice hockey star, Tara Watchorn, returns to the team as an assistant coach after retiring from the Canadian National Women’s Team.

Record month from Bach has BU moving up :: USCHO.com :: U.S. College Hockey Online
Victoria Bach is coming off one of the single most impressive months of hockey any women’s D-I player has ever had.

SWHL (Switzerland)

ZSC Lions, HC Lugano and EV BOMO Thun pick up convincing wins - swisshockeynews.ch
The SWHL A teams from Zürich, Lugano and Thun, who are already qualified for the playoffs, all celebrated convincing wins against the lower-ranked teams in the fourth to last master-round.

EV Bomo Thun beats the defending champions HC Lugano - swisshockeynews.ch
The participants of the final tournament of the Swiss Women's Hockey Cup, which will take place in Biasca on January 27/28, have been determined

AWIHL (Australia)

2017-18 AWIHL season: Round 5 | Ice Hockey News Australia
Round 5 of the 2017-18 Australian Women's Ice Hockey League has finished with the Sirens winning both games against the Brisbane Goannas.