Date: April 12, 2019

Dutch women fly to Div. IA

The Netherlands’ women’s national team celebrates after winning the last game against Poland.

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

The Netherlands were flying high at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group B in the Chinese capital of Beijing. As last-seeded team they beat all five opponents with a clean record to earn the second promotion in two years and play at Division I Group A level. It’s the first time ever the Netherlands earned promotion to the second-highest level in women’s senior hockey.

With the win the Dutch finish 17th overall in the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Program and close to the highest ranking position ever, 16th (in 1999, 2013 and 2015), a place they could improve next year.

The Netherlands have played among the third-tier nations for most of the 2000s but suffered relegation in 2016. Last year they won the Division II Group A with a 5-0 record and now continued their streak with five more wins and as one of very few teams to win an IIHF championship as lowest-seeded team.

A 5-2 win against top-seeded Korea on the opening day was followed by a 3-1 victory against Kazakhstan. In front of 1,570 spectators at the new Shougang Ice Rink in a former factory the Dutch also blanked host country China, 4-0, before beating second-seeded Latvia 3-1.

On the last day only Poland had a chance to take over the Dutch with a regulation time win. The Poles, one of the newer women’s teams in their third year at this level, won all games except the one against Korea before the last day. Although the Dutch outshot the Poles 46-13 it indeed became the tightest game for the orange-and-white team. After a scoreless opening frame captain Savine Wielenga opened the scoring 30 seconds into the second period. The game remained open for a while until at 8:52 Zoe Barbier sealed the win with the second goal.

It was already the second shutout for Nadia Zijlstra, who had an excellent tournament with a 95.89% save percentage that was only beaten by Latvia’s Kristiana Apsite (96.26%), the busiest goaltender with 206 saves and 214 shots on goal who was awarded the Best Goaltender award. Chaelin Park of Korea was named best defender while Wielenga was voted best forward by the directorate. The 30-year-old Dutch forward led the tournament in points (10) and goals (8). Korea’s Jongah Park also had 10 points (6+4) while Poland’s Karolina Pozniewska finished third with nine points (5+4).

Top-seeded Korea with many players from last year’s Unified Korean team at the Olympics couldn’t weather the Dutch storm on the first day and also lost to China on the second day. Wins over Poland (4-3), Kazakhstan (5-1) and Latvia (4-1) propelled the team to a silver-medal finish with 9 points, same as Poland, which won bronze.

For host China the tournament went the other way than Korea’s. The host nation of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games started with two wins against Latvia and Korea but then lost the other three and fell to fourth place. Kazakhstan saved its place in the group on the last day while Latvia has been relegated as last-ranked team with only four goals in five games.

PH Hockey Team moves on, preps for SEA Games

Steven Fuglister of the PH Hockey team receiving his MVP award at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Challenge Cup of Asia held recently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

By Brian Yalung – Manila Bulletin

After bagging the silver medal at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Challenge Cup of Asia held from Mar. 1 to 9 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Philippine Hockey team diverts its focus on the upcoming SEA Games.

According to team captain and tournament Most Valuable Player Steven Fuglister, they will be playing in a couple of tournaments aside from holding their regular team practices.

“We will play in two amateur tournaments as preparation for the 2019 SEA Games. One will be in June here in Manila, the Philippine Ice Hockey Tournament and in October we will go to Bangkok to compete in the Land of Smiles Tournament,” said Fuglister in an exclusive interview with Manila Bulletin Sports.

“Those will be our two major preparation events that we have for the SEA Games in November besides our regular team practices,” he added.

Falling short of winning it all, Fuglister bared how he told the team to charge their performance to experience.

“After the game, I think everyone was devastated in the locker room. We certainly aspired for more but I told the team that we should write this off as a learning experience, especially that we brought in a lot of players for the first time. I am confident that our players will learn from this game and come out stronger moving forward,” said Fuglister.

Prior to the unfortunate ending, the team captain revealed their game plan and how the Philippines had what it takes to take down the defending champion.

“We went undefeated during the preliminary round and went into the gold medal match confident and with a positive feeling especially after beating Mongolia in our first matchup (We also beat them in the 2018 CCOA in Manila). Our game plan was to score first and control the game from there on out, Fuglister said.

Unfortunately, Mongolia had other plans. They were able to figure out the Filipino puzzle and costly mistakes did the PH Hockey team in.

“Those plans got thrown out as Mongolia went ahead 3:0 in the first period. That might have thrown us off a bit but we believed in our strength, regrouped and came back to tie the game 3:3 later in the game. Then some individual mistakes happened and the experienced players from Mongolia took advantage of that,” Fuglister shared.

As to being adjudged the MVP of the tournament, Fuglister admits he is honored by the recognition but would trade it for the gold medal anytime.

“Personal awards, in general, are a nice recognition for all the work put in as an individual. But there’s a reason why I play a team sport. I want to succeed with my team and I would have traded the MVP Award any time of the day for the gold medal. Since the MVP gets chosen by representatives of the other teams, of course, it’s an honor being recognized for your efforts,” he said.