On paper, it was no contest. On ice, it wasn’t close. But on the scoresheet, it was, indeed, surprisingly close for a long time.
Led by second-period goals from rookies Kendall Coyne and Josephine Pucci, the United States defeated a Slovak team, 5-0, whose best player – by far – is, fortunately, their goalie.
Zuzana Tomčíková was a wall of poise and confidence and kept the score close while the Americans controlled the puck for almost every second of the 60 minutes. The 5-0 score flattered the losing team by a significant degree. Shots on goal favoured the Americans by a whopping 63-10 margin.
The first period was an unusually nervous one for the Americans. They were clearly the superior team and had nothing to fear or lose coming in, but despite dominating the period they misfired on several fine scoring chances and didn’t establish an intimidating game by any means. Perhaps it was the lack of atmosphere in the beautiful Hallenstadion which has a capacity of more than 10,000 but which had only 585 patrons on this Sunday afternoon game.
“We didn’t know much about them,” American captain Jenny Potter (née Schmidgall) admitted of Slovakia, “but we treat every opponent as if we have to go out and play our best game. We’re happy with the goals we got today, but there are things we could do better next game. That’s what hockey’s all about.”
The scoreless period featured two minor penalties to each team, and the U.S. held a 26-4 margin in shots. When they did hit the net they were met by a rock solid effort from Tomčíková. It marked only the third time in 16 periods of top-level hockey that Slovakia had not allowed a goal (2nd period vs. Switzerland and 1st period vs. China at the 2010 Olympics).
The first intermission was a chance for U.S. coach Katey Stone and captain Jenny Potter to settle the team down. “We just talked about going to the net and doing little things right,” said Potter.
The players picked up where they left off after the opening faceoff for the middle period, as Slovakia was content merely to dump the puck out of its end when it got possession.
Finally, a Molly Engstrom point shot was deftly deflected in front by Kendall Coyne, playing in here first World Women’s Championship game, and the Americans scored what well looked like the game-winning goal such was the inability of their opponents even to move the puck up ice.
“Decker got kicked out of the draw, and I stepped in, popped one back, and I went to the net. Engstrom shot it, and I tipped it five hole,” Coyne described enthusiastically in hockey jargon.
They made it 2-0 on a rare mistake from Tomčíková. Perhaps not fully trusting the abilities of her defencemen, she dove out to pokecheck a loose puck, but it went right to Josephine Pucci who quickly fired it into the empty net while the goalie while still trying to make it back to her skates.
The Americans struck for a third goal just eleven seconds into the third period thanks to Hilary Knight, and eight seconds later they added a fourth on a slapshot by Meghan Duggan past a beleaguered Tomčíková. Another newcomer, 19-year-old Brianna Decker, made it 5-0 on a quick shot in the slot midway through the period.
The U.S. plays again tomorrow against Russia while the Slovaks play Sweden earlier in the day Monday. Both games are in Zürich.
05:43 – PEN – Országhová, holding
14:30 – PEN – Decker, tripping
16:01 – PEN – Matejová, hooking
16:10 – PEN – Engstrom, interference
20:56 – PEN – Pravlíková, tripping
23:50 – GOAL – Coyne (Engstrom, Knight)
28:18 – GOAL – Pucci (Lamoureux)
30:10 – PEN – Duggan, hooking
36:43 – PEN – Pucci, hooking
40:11 – GOAL – Knight (Decker, Cahow)
40:19 – GOAL – Duggan (Chu)
47:27 – GOAL – Decker (Knight, Bellamy)
52:08 – PEN – Schoullis, hooking
W: McLaughlin (10-10)
L: Tomčíková (58-63)
SHOTS ON GOAL
26+14+23 = 63
4+2+4 = 10
Goaltenders: Brianne McLaughlin, Molly Schaus. Defence: Kacey Bellamy, Caitlin Cahow, Molly Engstrom, Josephine Pucci, Angela Ruggiero (A), Anne Schleper. Forwards: Julie Chu (A), Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Gigi Marvin, Jenny Schmidgall (C), Jen Schoullis, Kelli Stack, Kelley Steadman.
Goaltenders: Jana Budajová, Zuzana Tomčíková. Defence: Barbora Brémová, Maria Gajdošová, Iveta Karafiátová (C), Barbora Kežmarská, Michaela Matejová, Petra Országhová, Romana Vargová. Forwards: Janka Čulíková, Nicol Čupková, Anna Džurňáková (A), Nikola Gápová, Maria Herichová, Petra Jurčová, Jana Kapustová (A), Alica Mihaliková, Petra Pravlíková, Lenka Sroková, Martina Veličková.
|UNITED STATES (C)||vs.||SLOVAKIA|
|First IHLC Meeting (USA vs. SVK)
|Previous IHLC Meeting (USA vs. SVK)
|Last IHLC Game
USA 4-1 CAN – 04/08/2011 – EX – Ann Arbor
|Next IHLC Game
USA 13-1 RUS – 04/18/2011 – WWC – Zürich
Article Credit: IIHF