THE MOMENT: Sweden @ Czech Republic – Saturday, April 6
by Mark Staffieri
NEPEAN, Ont. – The strong goaltending on display by both Sweden and the Czech Republic represented the “moment” of the night Saturday at the Sportsplex. While the relegation match is not where any team wishes to be, it also stands as a display of great character and determination.
This display was no less evident than the strong goaltending that was on display. Sweden’s Sara Grahn didn’t let in a single goal into her net through the first two periods of play.
With 15:58 remaining in the final frame, Grahn would display great stability between the pipes as she denied Tereza Vanisova on a breakaway. As goaltending legend Kim Martin was not available for the Swedes, Grahn played valiantly.
Radka Lhotska, the oldest player on the Czech squad at 32 years of age), earned the nod for the Czech Republic. While she allowed a goal on the power play in the first period, she was nothing short of solid for the Czechs.
During the first two periods of play, Lhotska stopped more than 20 shots as she made every effort to keep her team in contention. Her strong play not only signified why she is a leader for the Czechs, but it represented why the improving nation is competing at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
With less than a minute in the third period, Lhotska faced a barrage of shots in heavy traffic. At one point, she was on her back, but managed to weave her magic and keep the puck out of the net.
Through three periods of play, she had stopped 33 shots, while Grahn faced 22 in a classic stalemate. The fact that the contest went into overtime is testament to the goaltending that was on display. Grahn was remarkable in overtime, as two Swedish players served penalties to force a shootout.
As European women’s clubs look to become more competitive on a global scale, a key component will be in its goaltending. Florence Schelling and Noora Raty have helped their respective nations stand among the worlds finest. The display from Grahn and Lhotska showed how superlative goaltending means no team can be taken for granted.
For the full game story, please visit www.worldwomen2013.com.
For the full game summary, including statistics, please CLICK HERE.