International Ice Hockey Federation

34 seconds of thrills

34 seconds of thrills

A helter-skelter second stanza delights Shayba

Published 16.02.2014 23:47 GMT+4 | Author Andy Potts
34 seconds of thrills
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 16: Russia's Yekaterina Pashkevich #72 celebrates after a first period goal by Anna Shukina #21 during women's classification round action against Japan at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/HHOF-IIHF Images)
A crazy carnival of goals transformed a humdrum classification game into an entertaining clash as Russia's women put some smiles back on home fans' faces

It was the game nobody wanted to play - yet after a sluggish start Russia's victory over Japan in the Classification Round turned into an entertaining encounter.

It may be a long way from the glamour of a medal game, but an astonishing sequence of three goals in just 34 seconds in the middle frame transformed an undistinguished game of hockey into an unexpected barnstormer.

Russia was up 1-0 at the start of the chaos, and seemed to be in command of a game between two sides which came into Sunday's action mulling over a tournament which had brought promising moments but failed to quite live up to expectations.

That changed in an instant, though, when an uncharacteristic error from home goalie Anna Prugova gifted Japan a way back into the game.

There looked to be little danger when Rui Ukita won the puck on the boards and mishit a dribbler of a pass towards the slot. But Prugova somehow failed to drop on the slow-moving disc and, under pressure from Tomoe Yamane, somehow pushed it into her own goal. Yamane claimed the goal and the scores were level.

But Russia quickly re-took the lead. A mere 30 seconds had passed when young Anna Shokhina got her first ever Olympic goal, putting away the rebound after the puck bounced off Yekaterina Smolentseva's skate in front of goal.

The teenager had plenty to celebrate on the night, but admitted it wasn't easy to play so soon after the disappointment of the quarter final. "I'm very happy because I scored my first goal but it was very tough to come back after yesterday's game. All of this is good experience of international hockey for me," she said.

Continue reading

That lead was to last just six seconds, however. From the restart a hopeful loft into Russia's zone from Ayako Toko spun crazily off the ice, leaving Prugova stranded to watch in horror as it rolled into the net.

It was the first time Japan had scored twice in an Olympic game, and not even the large slice of fortune which accompanied both goals could mask the glee on the players' faces.

For Prugova, meanwhile, there was an opportunity to mull over those slips from the bench after head coach Mikhail Chekanov opted to send Yulia Leskina into goal.

Prugova reflected on her misfortune: "The went one way and I moved towards it, but it landed on its edge and rolled away from me. It's happened in practice, but today it was so quick I couldn't do anything about it."

It took Russia just 43 seconds to get back in front, however, with Galina Skiba reacting fastest as the puck pinballed around the slot following shots from Angela Goncharenko and Tatyana Burina.

"Of course it was important to win this game," Skiba said. "Women's hockey needs to grow and develop, so we had to get a win here for the fans who have started to support us. We must keep going, and we needed this victory."

And Olga Sosina finally gave the hosts some much-needed breathing space with Shokhina claiming an assist for her third point of the game.

The third period started with Japan cutting the deficit again, this time with a good strike from Chiho Osawa which clipped the underside of the bar and sneaked over the line. A video review confirmed the forward's first goal of the Games.

Scoring three times gives Japan confidence after a goal-shy start to the tournament, but captain Osawa admitted there was still more to be done to keep 'Smile Japan' happy.

"We are a little bit sad because we have lost, but next time we are going to win so we can go home on a high note," she said. "Over this tournament we've got much more confidence. We've played a lot of games and that experience will help us in the future."

But that was as close as the Japanese would get as the tournament's underdogs once again found it was a case of so near, yet so far. Russia stretched its lead on the powerplay when Skiba got her second of the game off another Burina pass and iced the cake when Burina herself fired home after Anna Shibanova's dump-and-chase came back off the boards and found her unattended in front of goal.

After a difficult weekend for Russia's hockey fans this win did not offer profound consolation for the women's loss to Switzerland or the men's shoot-out struggles. But it did at least bring another Russian victory for the 4,793 fans inside Shayba Arena to celebrate boisterously.

The competition is not quite over for these teams. Russia goes against Finland in a quest to clinch fifth place, while Japan meets Germany once again in search of its first ever Olympic victory.


Back to Overview