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2019 Worlds Recap: Russia

Russia finished in fourth after getting beat up in the group stage by Finland, Canada, and the U.S.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 9 - Russia v Japan Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Tournament Finish

Head coach Alexei Chistyakov guided Russia to a fourth-place finish at the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship. Team Russia has now finished outside of the medals in three of the last four Women’s World Championships.

Record

Russia finished with a 2-5-0 record.

Recap

Team Russia started their group stage play off on the right foot with a 2-1 win over Team Switzerland on April 5. Russia found a way to get it done despite not having Anna Shokhina in the lineup; she missed the first two games of the 2019 Worlds due to a suspension she earned for a kicking incident at the 2018 Olympics.

After that initial victory against the Swiss, Team Russia scored just one goal in their next three games against the rest of Group A. They were shellacked by Team USA, losing 10-0 in their final game of the group stage. Chistyakov’s team scored all three of its goals in the group stage on the power play; they were outscored 16-0 at even strength. It was a clear sign that with or without Shokhina, the Russians were still not in the same tier as Team USA, Team Canada, or Team Finland.

Russia’s best performance at this year’s Worlds came in the quarterfinals. They defeated Switzerland by a score of 3-0, outshooting them 44-14. However, just two days later they were crushed by USA 8-0 in the semifinals before losing the bronze medal game to Team Canada by a score of 7-0. That defeat marked the fourth time that Russia was shutout and the fourth time that they allowed five or more goals in a game.

Chistyakov changed his goalie in five of Russia’s seven games, but it would be unfair to hang Russia’s fourth-place finish on its goaltending. The Russians scored just one even strength goal in the entire tournament and their 20.29 shots for per-60 minutes (SF60) was the second-lowest in the tournament. However, they did have to play Team USA twice and that definitely made an impact on a lot of their numbers.

Standouts

  • Anna Shokhina (F) - Shokhina had a goal and two primary assists in Russia’s victory over Switzerland in the quarterfinals. That game accounted for all of the points that the Tornado HK star picked up at the 2019 Worlds. Her 2.00 SOG/GP was second on the team and she was the only player on Team Russia with more than two primary points despite the fact that she played in just five games.
  • Olga Sosina (F) - Sosina finished the tournament with just one goal and one assist, but Russia’s alternate captain led her team with 22 shots on goal. She picked up both of her points on Russia’s power play. Sosina also had the highest average ice time (19:31 TOI/GP) on Russia, making her one of the most-deployed forwards in Finland.
  • Anna Shibanova (D) - Russia’s captain was definitely the team’s best two-way defender in Finland. On average, she skated a team-leading 28.71 shifts per game. Shibanova took just one minor penalty, which definitely stood out on a blue line that featured three defenders who finished with six or more penalty minutes in the 2019 Worlds. Shibanova also finished the tournament with two assists — the highest point total among Russia’s defenders.

The Future

Russia was the fourth-youngest team in the tournament. In addition to more established young stars like Shokhina, Fanuza Kadirova, and Yelena Dergachyova, Russia had a new wave of youngsters take to the ice in Finland.

Goaltender Valeria Merkusheva was thrown to the wolves in Finland despite being just 19. She started against Finland and Team USA in the group stage and was pulled from both games. She also appeared in relief against Team USA in the quarterfinals after the Americans got five goals past Anna Prugova halfway into the game. Merkusheva made some big saves for Russia and finished the tournament with an .840 save percentage.

Oxana Bratisheva was one of two teenage forwards on Russia’s roster. Although she didn’t pick up a point in Finland, she did show a lot of encouraging signs despite seeing limited ice time. Bratisheva was one of six Russian skaters to register at least 10 shots on net in the tournament. She showed the flashes of skill that helped her finish the ZhHL season with 20 goals.

All data courtesy of IIHF.com, eliteprospects.com, and the author’s own tracking.