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2 playoff spots on line in Olympic women’s hockey

- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Russia has a chance to ride the hometown advantage to another victory when it plays Japan on Tuesday in Olympic women's hockey.

The Russians were spurred by a boisterous home crowd to a 4-1 win over Germany in the opener, and there was even some excitement about the game in the United States. Forward Yekaterina Pashkevich, who lives in Massachusetts, told the Olympic News Service that her boyfriend, Mark, watched the game against the Germans on TV.

"I got phone calls from my friends over there and they were telling me they were holding pajama parties while watching the game," she told ONS. "My boyfriend said his phone was blowing up with all the calls he was taking from people who were so excited about our win."

At 41, Paskevich is the oldest player ever in Olympic women's hockey.

But she's hardly the only veteran.

Canadian forward Hayley Wickenheiser has played in all five Olympics since the sport was added to the Winter Games in 1998. And Sweden goalie Kim Martin Hasson, who is expected to start against Germany on Tuesday after sitting out the opener, would be the first female goalie to have played in four Olympics.

And she is only 28, having debuted in Salt Lake in 2002 at the age of 15.

Martin Hasson has played in 222 games for the Swedish national team, including eight world championships.

"When I started out as a little girl, I never had thoughts about playing in any Olympics," she told ONS. "It's been a long journey, but the years have gone by pretty quickly."

A victory on Tuesday by Russia or Sweden would all-but clinch a spot in the quarterfinals, while a loss by Germany or Japan would effectively eliminate them from the playoffs.

German coach Peter Kathan said he thinks his team matches up better with Sweden, which beat Japan 1-0 in the opener, than with the Russians.

"Sweden is very compact, they have perfect forwards and it won't be an easy game," he said.

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