Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ISML 2014: The next six in...

ISML 2014: The next six in...

ISML 2014: 12 more enter the show, Stella field set

ISML 2014: 12 more enter the show, Stella field set

By JR Salazar
February 19, 2014

Twelve more contestants entered the 2014 International Saimoe League preliminaries, with another 18 candidates in the Stella Division seeing their hopes die amidst the voting. Here are the results from the Nova and Stella Divisions after Preliminaries Match Day 8.


Rikka Takanashi (6802 votes) is in from Nova Group 1, edging out Eru Chitanda (5783 votes), Renge Miyauchi (3260 votes) and Manaka Mukaido (2499 votes). From Nova Group 2, Kuroyukihime is entering the fray (6648 votes), beating out Misaki Shokuhou (4543 votes), Mitsuki Nase (3666 votes) and Yukina Himeragi (3608 votes). Asuna Yuuki is in from Nova Group 3 with 6773 votes, rolling past Touka Yatogami (5457 votes), Ririchiyo Shirakiin (3413 votes) and Leticia Draculair (3207 votes).

Nanami Aoyama is in from Nova Group 4 (5844 votes). Rounding out the order were Yukino Yukinoshita (4996 votes), Chocolat (4072 votes) and Kyouko Sakura (3141 votes). Tsukiko Tsutsukakishi will enter the tournament from Nova Group 5 (6199 votes), beating out Origami Tobiichi (4482 votes), Mikan Yuuki (4238 votes) and Yuno Gasai (3149 votes). Shinka Nibutani will also make a move up to the Stella next year after winning Nova Group 6 with 6347 votes. Rounding out the order were Haqua du Lot Herminium (4478 votes), Karuta Roromiya (3766 votes) and Ai Shindou (3569 votes).


Masami Iwasawa will make another return to the Stella Division after winning 6011 votes in Group 7. Eliminated from the tournament were Ui Hirasawa (4204 votes), Ushio Okazaki (4204 votes) and Ami Kawashima (3448 votes). Illyasviel von Einzbern, always a veteran at these sorts of events, is coming back for another run with 5972 votes. On their way out are Ruiko Saten (5162 votes) Sakura Kinomoto (3818 votes) and Mikuru Asahina (3412 votes). Shouko Kirishima also will be coming back to the ISML after winning Stella Group 9 (4957 votes). Eliminated from the tournament are Mato Kuroi (4747 votes), Haruna (4074 votes and Shinku (3331 votes).

It was going to be an uphill battle for Homura Akemi after joining the Stella Division last year. 5525 voters decided to do a little rebellion of their own and send Nadeko Sengoku to yet another ISML. Akemi only managed 4435 votes and is out, along with Fuuko Ibuki (3875 votes) and Kagami Hiiragi (3515 votes). Yuki Nagato will join Haruhi Suzumiya in the ISML once again after winning 5820 votes to take Stella Group 11. On their way out are Kuroko Shirai (5328 votes), Nagi Sanzen'in (3514 votes) and Konata Izumi (3479 votes). Finally, Erio Touwa is coming back to the ISML after winning 5540 votes to take Group 12. Eliminated from the ISML are Aria Holmes Kanzaki (4968 votes), Tsumugi Kotobuki (4262 votes) and Minori Kushieda (3202 votes).

Match Day 9 of the 2014 International Saimoe League Preliminaries is scheduled for Match 2, 2014. Vote for your favorite candidates at and join the ongoing debate.


Even when the thunder and storm begins
I'll be standing strong like a tree in the wind
Nothing's gonna move this mountain
Or change my direction

I'm falling off the sky
And I'm all alone
The courage that's inside's gonna break my fall
Nothing's gonna dim my light within

But if I keep going on
It will never be impossible
Not today

'Cause I've got something to believe in
As long as I'm breathing
There is not a limit to what I can dream

'Cause I've got something to believe in
Mission to keep climbing
Nothing else can stop me if I just believe
And I believe in me

Even when the world tries to pull me down
Tell me that I can't, try to turn me around
I won't let them put my fire out, without no

But if I keep going on
It will never be impossible
Not today

Yes, I've got something to believe in
As long as I'm breathing
There is not a limit to what I can dream

'Cause I've got something to believe in
Mission to keep climbing
Nothing else can stop me if I just believe

And I believe I can do it all
Open every door
Turn unthinkable to reality
You'll see, I can do it all and more

Believing, as long as I'm breathing
There is not a limit to what I can dream
Believing, mission to keep climbing
Nothing else can stop me if I just believe
And I believe in me.

Oh Russia...

SOCHI, Russia — The Russian men’s hockey players were put forward as the host country’s most important entry in the Sochi Olympics, the only team that really mattered to many here. No one will ever know for sure the pressure they faced, only the humiliating ending they encountered.

Russia was holding its collective breath with this team, and was prepared to keep holding it through the gold medal game on Sunday, the grand finale before the closing ceremony. Instead, all the air was let out in the most dispiriting way on Wednesday, in a 3-1 loss to Finland in the quarterfinals. They did not get close.

Russia also struggled in the preliminary round, losing to the United States in a shootout. The Russians then had to play a qualification game, against Norway, to reach the quarterfinals. None of their games inspired much confidence.

It was always gold medal or bust for the Russians, who for the past 22 years, since the breakup of the Soviet Union, have endured teams that looked strong on paper but could not find their way to a gold medal.

Quarterfinal 2
Team 1 2 3 Score
 Finland 2 1 0 3
 Russia 1 0 0 1

Between 1956, when it made its ice hockey debut, and the breakup in 1991, the Soviet Union won the Olympic gold in seven of nine appearances. In 1992, a unified team composed of the splintered Soviet republics also won. In the five Winter Games since, Russia has won two medals; a silver in 1998 and a bronze in 2002.

The pressure on the men to win an independent Russia’s first gold medal on home soil was greater than anything faced by the United States in 2002 or Canada in 2010.

“Our fans are a little bit tougher, I think,” Sergei Fedorov, a forward on the 1998 and 2002 Olympic teams, said recently. “They don’t like when the national team loses.”

A few weeks before the Sochi Games, Teemu Selanne conceded that the Finnish team he would be captaining was not the most talented in the tournament. In a best-of-seven series, Selanne said, Finland would be hard-pressed to defeat Russia, Canada or the United States, the pre-Games favorites.

“But in one game,” he said, “I like our chances against anybody.”

At 43, Selanne is the wise old lion of the Finnish team, a six-time Olympian who kept retirement at bay so he could have one more shot at an elusive gold medal. On Wednesday, Selanne was the better, more energetic No. 8 on the ice, outplaying his supremely skilled but strangely silent counterpart, Alex Ovechkin.

Selanne scored the go-ahead goal, fittingly on Finland’s eighth shot, with 2 minutes 22 seconds remaining in the first period, on a pass from the left circle by Mikael Granlund. He picked up the first assist on the third, feeding Granlund on a power play in the sixth minute of the second.

Granlund’s goal came after the Russians’ missed a couple sterling scoring opportunities. The forward Alexander Radulov, who has been in and out of favor with his coach, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, whiffed on a shot on a breakaway and Ovechkin, who had not scored since his first shift of these Games, fired a close-range shot that the Finnish goaltender, Tuukka Rask, stopped with his right pad.

Ilya Kovalchuk, the former N.H.L. player who returned to Russia to play for the Kontinental Hockey League team in St. Petersburg, opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the eighth minute of the first, his one-timer beating Rask on the stick side.

Less than two minutes later, the Finns’ Juhamatti Aaltonen tied the scored – and quieted the crowd – with an attempt from the left circle, Finland’s favored shooting spot, that beat Sergei Bobrovsky on his stick side.

The Russians, or at least their news media, knew better than to take Finland lightly. The Finns are 4-2 against Russia in Olympic competition, a statistic one reporter alluded to when he asked Bilyaletdinov pointedly the night before the game: “The Finnish team is an inconvenient rival to us. The statistics show that. Have you analyzed what we should do to take advantage of our strong side and their weaknesses?”

Bilyaletdninov’s short answer then was that the Russians’ best scorers, led by Ovechkin, had to keep putting shots on the net. After his first-shift goal in Russia’s opener against Slovakia, Ovechkin was scoreless on his next 23 shots.

Rask, the Boston Bruins goalie, made big save after big save, and the Finnish defense was stout in front of him to keep the Russians, and their fans, from getting back into the game. It all transpired as Selanne had predicted last month when he said, “The Olympics is a bigger ice surface and it’s only 10 days. In that short time it’s going to be who finds the little things or whose system is better.”