Russians Make Statement Heading into Sochi with Bronze Medal Win

Mark StaffieriContributor IIApril 10, 2013

Photo by Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa Citizen, Obtained from:
Photo by Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa Citizen, Obtained from:

Many themes were evident during the bronze medal match of the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds. With Russia hosting the Sochi Winter Games in 2014, the ambitious program wanted a bronze medal to build momentum. On the other hand, Finland was looking to redeem itself after a heartbreaking loss in the bronze medal game to Switzerland in 2012.

Less than one minute into the game, Finland’s No. 13 was called for a tripping penalty. With Russia having the first power play of the game, they were unable to solve Finnish goaltender Noora Raty.

The remainder of the opening frame would see Finland continuously apply pressure on Russia. Goaltender Nadezhda Alexandrova was tested frequently. On one scoring opportunity, the puck slipped past her but she lied down on her back to stop the puck from entering the net.

Having been outshot by an 11-4 margin in the opening period, Russia tried to regroup in the second stanza. Despite efforts from Iya Gavrilova and team captain Yekaterina Smolentseva, Raty continued to stifle the Russian offense.

The defensive stalemate continued as Alexandrova was equally effective between the pipes. Finland’s Michelle Karvinen tried valiantly to score for Finland. On more than occasion, she weaved her way through traffic only to be denied. She had beaten Alexandrova on one effort but her shot hit the post.

With a penalty to Russian captain Smolentseva (who hurt herself and fell to the ice during the hooking call), Finland tried again to get on the scoresheet. Once again, Karvinen attempted to be the catalyst on offense. She maintained remarkable puck control during the power play. Her teammate Emma Terho would hit the crossbar as the score remained at zero.

Heading into the final frame, Finland held a 19-13 advantage in shots. Karvinen led the offensive charge again but her shot was blocked by Alexandra Kapustina. With 17:40 remaining, Finland’s Saija Tarkki was called for tripping.

The power play for Russia would prove to be the turning point in the contest. With only eight seconds remaining in Tarkki’s penalty, 18-year-old Anna Shibanova fired a slap shot which beat Raty. For Shibanova, it was her first goal of the tournament—it came at the perfect time.

After the goal, Russia was called for three penalties in less than 10 minutes. Despite being short-handed, Alexandrova neutralized all three Finnish power plays. While Finland applied heavy pressure in the Russian offensive zone, Alexandrova maintained great composure.

With less than one minute in the game, Raty abandoned the net in favor of an extra attacker. As Finland tried to tie the score, their efforts yielded a negative result. Russia’s Alexandra Vafina logged an empty-net goal for a 2-0 final score.

The Player of the Game Awards went to Finland’s captain Jenni Hiirikoski and Russia’s Alexandrova. In addition, Hiirikoski would win the IIHF Directorate Award for Best Defender of the 2013 IIHF Worlds, while Alexandrova would claim the Directorate Award for Best Goaltender.