The first game for the Russian Federation women’s team was a big win, beating Germany 4-1 on home ice. These two Group B teams are considered to be the best in the group, with Germany being considered Russia’s biggest threat in the round robin. This is the German women’s first time playing in the Olympics since 2006, after failing to qualify for the Vancouver 2010 games.
If you don’t have time to read a full recap, here are the basics: Russia dominated the entire game but didn’t open the scoring, and didn’t score until the third period. Once they did score though, they didn’t stop. If you do have time, here is a slightly more sophisticated and detailed recap.
The Russians set the tone of the game early by putting pressure on the German team, outshooting them 10-4 in the first period. Germany took mostly soft shots on the net Iya Gavrilova had a big shot on net less than four minutes into the period but it was saved by German goaltender Viona Harrer.
Russian goaltender Yulia Leskini looked shaky in the pre-game warm up, having notable difficulties stopping glove shots in particular. Luckily the Russian offence and defence dominated the game, only allowing 15 shots on their unstable goaltender.
The German team had a few good chances, one coming from Manuela Awander just before the halfway mark in the first period, when Leskina mishandled the puck, almost allowing the first goal of the game. One minute later, Awander took the first penalty of the game for hooking, but the Russians couldn’t get the puck in the net, and the game remained scoreless for the time.
16-year-old Russian forward Anna Shokina was helped off the ice with under three minutes to go in the first period, after losing her balance on an awkward move beside the boards. She remained on the bench, and clocked a total of 12:52 minutes of ice time in the game.
The first period ended in the midst of a Russian power play, after Anja Weisser took down Melina in front of the German net at 19:17. The power play continued into the second period, and with eight seconds left, Inna Dyubanok took a shot from the blue line, when the puck was tipped to Galina Skiba. She had a wide-open German net but couldn’t get control of the puck, and missed an opportunity to open up the scoring. Germany’s power play was mediocre at best (note the words “wide open German net” above), but it was good enough to keep the Russians at bay for the first and second periods.
Russia’s Dergachyova made a great play off a pass from the corner near the blue line, weaving past two German players, only to have her shot saved by Harrer. Harrer was easily one of Germany’s most valuable players in this first game, stopping 33 of the 37 shots she faced.
Germany spent a significant amount of the game in their own zone, which made it difficult to change lines without giving their opponents a scoring opportunity. Russia had 20 shots on net in the first two periods, and many of them came off of two and three man rushes in Germany’s zone on their line changes.
Franzisca Busch opened up the scoring with a wrist shot from the blue line off a pass from Weisser and Awander at 26:48. The shot flew right by the glove of Russian goaltender Leskina. The goal was Team Germany’s first since the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. The goal was only the team’s second shot on net in the second period, and their sixth in the game overall.
Russia’s first penalty went to Dyubanok on an interference call at 32:01. The Germans managed to create some offensive pressure in the power play, but it wasn’t enough to give them a 2-goal lead.
Russia finally hit their stride in the 3rd period, scoring four goals to win the game. It looked like Yekaterina Lebedva was going to score Russia’s first on a breakaway opportunity at 17:15, but the shot was stopped by Harrer. Maritta Becker also had a close-call, backhanding a soft shot from the blue line, sending a bouncing puck towards Leskina, who scrambled to make the save, almost making it 2-0 for Germamy.
Gavrilova finally put Russia on the board at 45:04, wrapping around the net and forcing the puck through a small hole past Harrer’s left pad. The goal gave the team a visible burst of energy, and the goals kept on coming from there.
Their second goal came on the power play at 48:49, while Tanja Eisenschmid was serving a penalty for tripping. The shot from Olga Sosina bounced off German defenceman Andrea Lanzl at the top of the crease and into the net.
Russian captain Yakaterina Smolentseva scored a beautiful goal on a two-on-one rush with Gavrilova, shooting right through the 5-hole past Harrer. It was one of those goals that are amazing if your team scores it, and deflating if it’s scored against your team. The third unanswered goal made Harrer visibly mad, slapping the puck out of the net.
The 7,000 person crowd at Shayba Arena, on the other hand, was electric, cheering on their country’s much-needed goal spree.
Tatyana Berina was charged with a two minute minor for slashing at with 9:30 to go in the third period. Another penalty was given to German captain Susann Gotz for holding at 51:09, ending the German power play almost as quickly as it began, and seriously hindering their chance of putting a much-needed goal on the board.
Sosina got her second of the game during the 4-on-4 play at 52:15 off a pass from the point by Dyubanok. This time her goal was not a lucky bounce, but a smart play off a rebound, and the second five-hole goal scored against Harrer.
Russia’s will play their second game against Japan on Tuesday at 19:00 Sochi time (which means not having to wake up at 3:00am to watch a game). Japan lost their first game against Sweden 1-0, making them a seemingly easy competitor for the home team, especially after dominating offensively in this first game.