International Ice Hockey Federation

Shoot to thrill

Shoot to thrill

Will this tourney see most shootouts ever?

Published 29.03.2015 12:03 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Shoot to thrill
MALMO, SWEDEN - MARCH 28: Japan's Chiho Osawa #12 scores a shootout goal against Sweden's Sara Grahn #1 during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
A new unofficial record was established at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Women’s Championship on Saturday: most shootouts ever on opening day.

In the noon game at the Malmo Isstadion, Hanae Kubo and Chiho Osawa scored on Swedish goalie Sara Grahn in the shootout to give Japan a 4-3 victory. It was the first time in tournament history that the Japanese, returning to the top level for the first time since 2009, have ever beaten a nation that has won a World Championship medal. Their previous two wins were both against China.

Meanwhile, Minttu Tuominen was the lone shooter in eight attempts to tally in the game-winning shots competition as Finland defeated Russia 3-2 in the late game.

This wasn’t the first time that there have been two shootouts on the same day at the Women’s Worlds. It also happened on April 24, 1992; April 9, 2005; and April 24, 2011. But this was the first time it’s occurred in the preliminary round.

And there have never been more than two shootouts in any single Women’s Worlds before. Odds are good we’ll see at least one more before this tournament is over.

Only in 2007 did the IIHF begin using the three-point system for preliminary-round games at this tournament. That partially explains why there haven’t been more shootouts in the early going at other Women’s Worlds.

Host Sweden is now the all-time leader in World Women’s shootout participation, with one win and two losses in this situation.

So, what does it signal when so many games go to the shootout?

On the positive side, it reflects a measure of increased parity in the women’s game. If you’d told anyone 25 years ago that Japan would be able to not only go the distance but actually defeat Sweden, they would have laughed. Sweden walloped the Japanese 11-4 in their first-ever encounter in 1990, and had won all three subsequent meetings before Saturday by a margin of at least five goals.

On the flip side, it can also signal a failure of confidence – on one side or sometimes even both sides – to not get the job done earlier on.

To quote from the famous movie The Godfather, coaches may sometimes be left wondering when the shootout rolls around: “How did things ever get so far?” The Finns, for instance, had two goals disallowed against Russia, and couldn’t get on the board with an extended two-player advantage in the first period. Coach Pasi Mustonen’s crew could certainly have put this one away sooner.

The surplus of shootouts on Day One is a good reminder that this is a skill set well worth practicing. After all, the United States won its first World Women’s Championship ever in a shootout. And Angela Ruggiero’s 1-0 winner against Canada in 2005 came in Sweden – possibly a harbinger of things to come.


Back to Overview