International Ice Hockey Federation

Russia makes semis vs. U.S.

Russia makes semis vs. U.S.

Super Sosina slays host Swedes

Published 01.04.2015 23:56 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Russia makes semis vs. U.S.
MALMO, SWEDEN - APRIL 1: Russia's Olga Sosina #18 scores a third period goal against Sweden's Sara Grahn #1 while Annie Svedin #8 attempts to chase her down during quarterfinal round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The Bear has growled. Olga Sosina scored the late winner and added an assist as Russia edged host Sweden 2-1 to reach the semi-finals versus the United States.

With 5:26 left, Sosina sped down the ice on a breakaway, outracing the Swedish defenders and zipping a wrister between the pads of Swedish goalie Sara Grahn.

"We had to score at that moment," said Sosina. "We are here to get medals. It’s our obligation to go to these semi-finals, not to stop in the quarter-finals."

Iya Gavrilova scored Russia's other goal and had a helper in its third-period rally from a 1-0 deficit. Anna Borgqvist tallied for Sweden.

"We’re really disappointed," said Borgqvist. "We played two good periods, the first and second one. In the third one, I don’t think we came out the same way as we did in the first two."

Under coach Mikhail Chekhanov, the Russians now face a tough task. They've never defeated the U.S. in nine previous Women's Worlds meetings. They lost 9-2 and were outshot 49-5 in their round-robin clash on March 31.

"I guess we can succeed if we do what the coach says," Sosina said of facing the Americans. "We must stick to defence and not get any penalties."

Both Russia’s Maria Sorokina and Grahn were solid in net in this tense, defensive duel. Shots on goal were even at 25 apiece.

It's a big let-down for the host nation. Curiously, Sweden’s women’s program went into decline right around the same time as its U20 men’s program experienced a renaissance. The Damkronorna’s last medal was in 2007 (bronze), and going for a medal on home ice would have been a big boost for their future prospects.

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it’s really hard to lose these kinds of games," said Swedish captain Jenni Asserholt.

If Russia can't pull off a shocker against the U.S., it'll at least have a shot at repeating the bronze it earned at the 2013 Women's Worlds in Ottawa. That would be a nice outcome after failing to medal on home ice at last year's Sochi Olympics.

"Being able to compete for medals, it gives us an opportunity to get a lot of support from the government and the federation," said Gavrilova. "Girls are watching us on TV and following our games, and they want to come and play hockey in Russia. It’s all about bringing more girls to hockey."

Midway through the first period, Sweden went to the power play when Borgqvist sprang Emma Nordin on a breakaway and Russian captain Anna Shukina tripped her up.

But Russia got the best chance shorthanded when Gavrilova stripped Swedish blueliner Emmy Alasalmi of the puck at the point and surged down left wing, powering a slap shot from the left faceoff circle, which Grahn gloved down.

With 1:12 left in the second period, coach Leif Boork’s most dangerous line broke through. Nordin centered it from behind the goal line, and Erika Grahm tried to whack it in past Sorokina’s left post. She failed but the puck squirted out to Borgqvist in front, who banged it home.

Borgqvist temporarily took over the tournament scoring lead with her fifth goal and eighth point, passing the U.S.'s Hilary Knight.

Russia battled back in the third period. Sosina fought off Swedish defenders behind the net before circling to zing a shot from the faceoff circle that deflected off Gavrilova's skate past Grahn at 5:30.

"We knew she’s a good goalie, so our coach talked about screening her and getting some traffic in front of the net," Gavrilova explained. "I knew that once Sosina had the puck, she was going to drive the net. My job was just to go and step in front of [Grahn]. I got lucky."

Boork's crew got a great chance to regain the lead midway through the third when Alexandra Kapustina was sent off for tripping up Nordin. The Russians compounded their problems by getting dinged for too many players on the ice just as the Kapustina minor was about to expire. But the Swedes couldn't capitalize, and that proved fatal.

The Swedes pulled their goalie for the extra attacker with 33 seconds remaining, but to no avail. Russian fans joyously chanted "Molodtsy!" as the final buzzer sounded.

"I thought this tournament would be the comeback for us," Asserholt said wistfully.

Sweden's three best players of the tournament were honoured: Emilia Andersson, Erika Grahm, and Sara Grahn.

With the result, Sweden's all-time record against Russia at the Women's Worlds fell to eight wins and three losses.


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