Finland 0 - Russia 2

THE MOMENT: Russia @ Finland – Tuesday, April 9

by Mark Staffieri

OTTAWA, Ont. – The “moment” of the contest belongs to two Russian players: Anna Shibanova and Nadezhda Alexandrova.

At 4:11 of the third period, Shibanova scored what would stand as the game winning tally in a 2-0 bronze medal triumph for an ambitious Russian squad. 

Said goal was also the first that Shibanova scored in these women’s worlds. It could not have come at a better time. For the 18-year-old defender, this is clearly the biggest goal of her career.

Alexandra Vafina would log an empty netter in the dying seconds for her third of the tournament to make it 2-0.

Credit also goes to former Ottawa Senators player Alexei Yashin. Having served as General Manager of the Russian national women’s team, Yashin made a sincere effort to create a culture and strong pride among his players and staff.

Equally impressive was Russian backstop Nadezhda Alexandrova. In opposing Noora Raty of Finland, it was an intimidating presence for any goaltender.

Alexandrova rose to the occasion, as she made 32 saves for a shutout victory. With heavy pressure from Michelle Karvinen of Finland, who played valiantly throughout the contest, Russian player of the game Alexandrova was solid between the pipes, as the Russians claimed their first bronze at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship since 2001.

For a Finnish team looking to redeem itself after a heartbreak loss in the 2012 bronze medal game in Burlington, Vt., it was not meant to be. The Finns will now have to wait until the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, for its next chance to claim a medal.

Heading into Sochi, the Russians have built remarkable momentum. In what hopes to be the continuation of a magical run for their women’s team, the Russians have emerged as the feel good story in this tournament.

With players hugging and smiling, and with tears of joy streaming down their faces as the bronze medals were adorned around their necks, Tuesday, April 9, 2013, has been a monumental day in Russian women’s hockey history. Shibanova and Alexandrova are now part of Russian hockey lore, as they played the games of their lives.

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