Matchup: Russia vs. Kazakhstan, 12:00 p.m. CT, MTS Centre
Russia is unhappy to be among the lower-echelon teams for the second straight Women’s Worlds, but it does have the opportunity to exact some revenge for its last-place finish in 2005. There, it lost 2-1 to Kazakhstan in a shootout that decided seventh place. Goaltender, Irina Gachennikova has played all 120 minutes for the Russians, but has the second-worst save-percentage (.879) among netminders playing more then 40 percent of their teams’ minutes so far in the tournament. The good news for the Russians is that Kazakhstan’s Darya Obydennova has the worst. Playing strong defence may not be a chief concern among the Russians, considering they’re facing a Kazakh squad that has yet to score a goal in the tournament. But with Kazakhstan facing a must-win situation, it could be dangerous for Russia. Offensively, the Russians have yet to find the touch that helped them put up seven goals against Switzerland in exhibition play on March 30. Tatiana Burina and Iya Gavrilova lead the Russians in terms of shots on goal, with seven and six respectively, but will have to do more then just hit the net to avoid relegation. Nevertheless, the Russians should be given a small edge heading into this game.
After losing three straight games and being outscored 19-0, Kazakhstan will look to end its 2007 World Women’s Championships on a positive note. They’d like to repeat what they did when Olga Potapova was the only player to find the back of the net in the 2005 tournament-ending shootout versus the Russians, which gave the Kazakhs their first and only win to date at the Worlds. The young goaltending duo of Obydennova and Yekaterina Ryzhova has had a tough tournament. If the Kazakhs fail to score in the first 60 minutes, they’ll be pushing their luck by hoping the Russians don’t score either and that they can emerge victorious again in extra time. In its first Relegation Round game against the Germans, Kazakhstan lost 3-0, and took 10 minor penalties, more then doubling its PIM total for the tournament. A repeat performance will have the Kazakhs back playing in Division I.