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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: Teenagers’ time to shine

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U-18 Worlds thoughts along with the usual CWHL, NWHL, college and international links

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Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 10 - Canada v Switzerland
Alina Muller (25) of Switzerland in the season where she competed in both the U-18 Worlds and the 2014 Olympics.
Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Story of the Week

How to watch the U18 World Championships - The Ice Garden
Plus more information you might want to know

Team Russia at the 2019 U18 Women’s Worlds | CONWAY’S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
It was a year ago, almost exactly, that the Russian women’s U18 team recorded the most famous victory in the program’s history, a 3-2 win over Canada in the opening game of the first ever Russian-hosted women’s world championship.

The U-18 Women’s World Championship is currently taking place at three different levels. The top division is competing in Obihiro, Japan, Division IA is competing in Austria and Division IB is competing in Scotland. You can follow all three tournaments via the IIHF website.

Our focus naturally turns to the top division. Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Japan are battling it out on the final day of round-robin competition as we write. Due to time zones, this is going to be a little out of date by the time you actually read this, but that is how it goes.

When Wednesday dawns in North America we will know for sure who will have the two byes to the semi-final (USA has one spot locked down and currently Russia does not look like they’re likely to repeat their upset of Canada from last year as they’re losing badly in the second period) and who will be joining Japan in the relegation round. The safe bet is the Czechs, who would need to beat Finland and need Japan to beat Switzerland in order to move on to the quarter finals. The safe bet, however, is not a guarantee.

One of the great things about top level U-18 this year is that through eight games there have been no games decided by a difference of more than two goals, and there’s only been one shut out, a 1-0 affair between the Swiss and the Czechs. Newly promoted Japan may not have won any games yet but they’ve scored goals and won some respect. They look like they belong. Their lone goal against the Finns, their first of the tournament, was also a beauty of a play—Ami Sasaki hammering a puck home right from the slot off a feed from Yumeka Wajima.

Canada’s blow out of Denmark in the Men’s World Juniors had Hockey Men yelling about respect again and some people even talking about needing fewer teams at the top level. In women’s hockey, blowouts are simply a thing that happens. There’s no mercy rule in women’s hockey, you score as many as humanly possible. As this is being written, Canada is taking revenge on the Russians for last year’s upset. It’s 4-0 after 40 minutes, the Russians had to pull their goalie in the first period and Canada is not going to stop because if they do the Russians might come back. That this is an actual concern for Canada is a wonderful thing and a reflection of how well the women’s game is growing in the younger age groups.

For those of us who follow college hockey, U-18s are a great chance to see a bit of the incoming talent—most of the Canadian and American players have already committed to a school. University of Minnesota commit Abbey Murphy’s two-goal performance against Canada included a beauty of a breakaway. Team Canada defender Alexie Guay already has three points in the aforementioned 4-0 Canada-Russia match; if I was a Boston College fan, I’d be pretty excited right now.

They’re also a great chance to see young players from the other side of the Atlantic, like Finland’s Elisa Holopainen, who’s currently sitting at three goals and an assist in two games. Holopainen plays for KalPa in the Finnish Liiga and has already won a bronze medal at 4 Nations with Finland this year—will she add another medal to her collection in Obihiro?

The next step is for the women’s U-18 tournament to get the same sort of media coverage that the men’s U-20 tournament does (there’s no World Championship tournament for women between U-18 and the senior tournament). This year’s tournament is being streamed live on youtube but if you follow mainstream hockey coverage in most markets, you wouldn’t even know it’s happening.

Ed note: Canada beat Russia 5-1 and despite valiant efforts both the Czechs and the Japanese lost to Finland and Switzerland by a score of 2-1. USA beat Sweden by a score of 2-0.

The U-18 top level quarter-finals take place tonight for North Americans, semi-finals are Friday night and the medal games will be overnight on Saturday.

International Hockey

Rebecca Stenberg retires from Team Sweden - The Ice Garden
After seven seasons and 98 games in a Team Sweden jersey, forward Rebecca Stenberg has called an end to her national team career.

Lulea’s Rebecca Stenberg finished with Damkronorna | Aftonbladet
Rebecca Stenberg, 26, participated in the Olympics with Sweden last year. In total, she has made 98 national matches, of which ten are World Cup matches and six Olympic matches.

Up-And-Comers: Slovakia’s Júlia Matejková
Slovakia’s Júlia Matejková is only 16 years old, but has already played in one IIHF Women’s World Championship and two U18 World Championships.

International Hockey Competition May Move to NHL-Sized Ice: IIHF’s Fasel
IIHF president Rene Fasel has his eyes on the NHL and likes what he sees. The world governing board is considering holding all competitions on NHL-sized ice

National team forward Lara Stalder done for the season - swisshockeynews.ch

CWHL

CWHL Recap: Furies lose 3-1, Thunder lose 4-3 (OT) - Pension Plan Puppets
A Marie-Philip Poulin hat trick sinks Toronto and Markham’s late comeback is good enough for a point but not a win.

CWHL Recap: Markham Thunder lose 5-4 , Toronto Furies lose 6-3 - Pension Plan Puppets
Late scoring wasn’t enough to get Markham and Toronto any wins.

Les Canadiennes’ first line shines in weekend sweep of Toronto - Eyes On The Prize
Marie-Philip Poulin, Ann-Sophie Bettez, and Jill Saulnier combine for six goals in the two games.

Inferno Report: First series of 2019; Brigette Lacquette named captain at All-Star Game – Flamesnation
The Calgary Inferno had a much better start to this year than they did in 2018.

Brigette Lacquette, Liz Knox named CWHL All-Star captains - The Ice Garden
Fans voted in the Inferno defender and the Thunder goaltender as captains for 2019 game

TIG Round Table: How to save the Blades - The Ice Garden
If moving to Worcester can’t save the Blades franchise, what will? Some good ideas, some interesting ideas, and uh... no, they’re not moving the team to the Maritimes.

Midseason CWHL Award predictions - The Ice Garden
It’s crystal ball time. I think they might be off on the Hefford Trophy and “Defenseman” of the Year. Thoughts?

Kristen Barbara never thought she could be a pro hockey player. She is one now. | TheSpec.com
The 26-year-old Markham Thunder defenceman is 10th in CWHL scoring among blueliners.

NWHL

NWHL Weekend Wrap: Week Ten
The Buffalo Beauts captured a commanding 5-0 win over the league-leading Boston Pride Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, the Metropolitan Riveters, powered by a five-assist performance from Amanda Kessel, beat the Connecticut Whale 6-3.

Lauren Boyle becomes the first Buckeye drafted by the NWHL – The Athletic
“It’s exciting,” Boyle said. “It’s a huge surprise and it’s humbling, actually.”

Courtney Wittig makes history as first D-III player drafted in NWHL | College Hockey | USCHO.com
Courtney Wittig of Wisconsin-Eau Claire became the first D-III player drafted by the NWHL, and she and her coach, Erik Strand, are excited about the honor and what it means for women playing D-III hockey.

NWHL: Mariya Sorokina acquired by Riveters ahead of weekend game against Whale – Erica L. Ayala
#NWHL Russian goalie Mariya Sorokina gets another shot at a North American pro career with the Riveters.

Buffalo Beauts announce retirement of Sarah Edney - Die By The Blade
Veteran defender stepping away from NWHL.

Grading the Buffalo Beauts’ first half - The Ice Garden
Things are starting to get deep on the shores of Lake Erie

Her or Me with Buffalo Beauts goaltenders Shannon Szabados and Nicole Hensley - The Ice Garden
Find out who is more superstitious, flexible, and more!

Women’s Hockey Notebook: Maddie Elia brings BU style to Buffalo – Boston Herald
Playing against the Boston Pride brings back a lot of memories for Maddie Elia. The former BU skater has emerged, rather quickly, as one of the NWHL’s toughest players to play against.

The oldest member of USA's gold-winning hockey team, Gigi Marvin, still going strong in NWHL | Grand Forks Herald
After reaching the pinnacle of her career, the former Warroad High School star returned home from PyeongChang, South Korea, and went on a media victory tour around the country.

Amanda Kessel is the NWHL’s premier playmaking forward - The Ice Garden
The Riveters offense may be struggling, but Kessel has still been brilliant

Grading the Connecticut Whale’s first half - The Ice Garden
Rookies Räisänen and Mrázová shine in first half for The Pod

NCAA

Polls: USCHO - USA Today - The Ice Garden

NCAA Fantasy Hockey Week er 12 I think: Post Weekend standings - The Ice Garden
There were unexpected results, but they weren’t the unexpected results we expected

Despite The Rough Start, A BC Women’s Hockey Title Run Would Not Be Unprecedented - BC Interruption
History proves that it really is about how you finish, not how you start

BC Women’s Hockey Continues Slide With 3-2 Loss At New Hampshire - BC Interruption
Have we reached rock bottom yet?

Goal by Goal: Clarkson 3 - Northeastern 3 at the Friendship Series - The Ice Garden
The first game in Belfast didn’t disappoint

Minnesota Gophers Crushed St. Cloud Huskies 5-1 to Win First Minnesota Cup WCHA NCAA - Hockey Wilderness
Minnesota beat St. Cloud 5-1 to win the first Minnesota Cup.

New England hockey: Northeastern shines in Belfast – Boston Herald
It was billed as the inaugural Friendship Series in Belfast, Northern Ireland, modeled after the men’s Friendship Four, which took place at Thanksgiving in the same building.

College women’s hockey: Duluth’s Bellamy continues to build coaching resume with Bulldogs | Duluth News Tribune
For the third time in four seasons at Minnesota Duluth, Laura Bellamy has taken over as head coach of the Bulldogs while Maura Crowell performs her duties with the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team at the World Championship.

Wallace Stops 27 Shots As Pro Stars Edge Buckeyes | Eleven Warriors
Sophomore goalie Lynsey Wallace made her first appearance between the pipes for Ohio State against a cadre of Olympians and former WCHA stars. She impressed in spite of the loss.

U Sports

TOP 10 TUESDAY — U SPORTS
Montréal stays at 1, Alberta creeps up from 4 and Saskatchewan sneaks in at the bottom.

Syracuse Orange Women’s Hockey Team Dominate Theresa Humes Invitational | Sports – The Link
The St. Francis Xavier X-Women, Nipissing Lakers, and Syracuse Orange gathered alongside the Stingers at Ed Meagher Arena over the last weekend of December to take part in Concordia’s 51st annual Theresa Humes Women’s Hockey Invitational.

Men’s Hockey

Female hockey official feels thwarted in desire to work AJHL games | Edmonton Journal
CALGARY - Cassandra Gregory's talent as a hockey linesman was recognized when she was assigned to work the men's final at a prestigious annual midget triple-A tournament in Calgary on Jan. 1.

Five Questions with Jennifer Botterill
Three-time Olympic gold medalist discusses new role as Islanders television analyst, growth of women's hockey.