Category: World Championships (page 2 of 11)

Canada thrashes Russia for bronze

The Canadian players pose for a team photo after beating Russia for the bronze medal at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship

By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com

It might be the consolation prize, but it’s still a prize. Canada earned its first IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship bronze medal ever with a 7-0 win over Russia in Espoo on Sunday.

The Canadians will need time to fully assess what went wrong for them at this tournament. They played solid hockey and came second in Group A, but then suffered a dramatic 4-2 semi-final loss to the fired-up host Finns on Saturday. Never before has a Women’s Worlds concluded without a Canada-U.S. showdown for gold.

Instead, it’s the U.S. versus Finland in the final.

“It’s definitely not the medal that we came here to get, but I mean, even just participating at the World Championship and coming home with a medal is a huge honour,” said rookie Canadian defender Jaime Bourbonnais. “It was a great game today, and I thought we stuck together, even though we had a tough loss last night.”

Canada hasn’t won the Women’s Worlds since now-assistant coach Caroline Ouellette scored the 5-4 overtime winner against the U.S. in the 2012 gold medal game. That’s a long drought for the country that invented hockey. Only seven players from 2012 returned with this year’s team.

In IIHF history, the Canadian women own four Olympic gold medals, plus 10 Women’s Worlds gold medals and eight silver medals. On the bright side, Canada’s medal streak extends to 19 straight Women’s Worlds.

Against the Russians, first-year phenom Loren Gabel scored twice for Canada. Natalie Spooner, Rebecca Johnston, Jamie Lee Rattray, and Erin Ambrose tallied a goal and an assist apiece for Canada. Bourbonnais got her first career Women’s Worlds goal. Sarah Nurse and Renata Fast added two assists apiece.

“Today, we had to try to have that energy and find ways to bring it, even when it’s those tough games that you really didn’t want to be playing in,” said Spooner. “I think we found a way and we brought it.”

The outmatched Russians failed in their bid to capture their fourth Women’s Worlds medal. The previous three medals were all bronze (2001, 2013, 2016). An inability to clamp down defensively like the Finns – historically their main competition for bronze – or even the Japanese – who limited the powerful Americans to a 4-0 quarter-final win – stung coach Alexei Chistyakov’s skillful players.

“You see the score,” said Russia’s Alexandra Vafina. “The gap is big and we just need to work harder to get it equal at least. It’s sad that we got the same mistakes which we did before in the regular games. That’s probably the saddest thing, because we need to learn from each game. We’re still learning from this one. It’s a tough lesson, but what else can we do? Just keep going and don’t give up. Still work hard and practice hard.”

An old Canadian adage came to mind in regard to Russia’s performance: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” (Wayne Gretzky). The Russians were outshot 41-6 at Metro Areena. The single-game tournament record for the fewest shots on goal by a team in one game is 2, shared by Kazakhstan (in a 13-0 loss to Canada on 3 April, 2005) and Switzerland (in a 7-1 loss to the U.S. on 6 April, 2008).

Canadian hockey fans can recall occasions when their men’s team wasn’t able to bring its best in the battle for third place due to a “gold or bust mentality,” from the 3-2 loss to Finland at the 1998 Olympics in Japan to the 4-1 defeat against the U.S. at the 2018 Worlds in Denmark. However, that wasn’t going to be a problem for coach Perry Pearn’s troops.”At times in this tournament, I think we played extremely well to the point where we could challenge the U.S. in a gold-medal game, if we do the things we have to do,” said Pearn. “The flipside of that was last night we saw a game [versus Finland] where we got under pressure a little bit and we reverted right back to the old way of playing.”

Both Russia and Canada started the same netminders as in Canada’s 5-1 round-robin win: Genevieve Lacasse and Nadezhda Morozova. It was just Lacasse’s second start here, and she got her first career Women’s Worlds shutout. The 29-year-old Montreal native, who first played for Canada at the 2015 tournament in Sweden, backstopped Canada to a 2-1 group stage win over the U.S. at last year’s Olympics.

The Canadians kept the Russians virtually pinned in their zone from the get-go. At 6:08, Spooner, who scored a hat trick in the 5-1 round-robin win over Russia, grabbed the puck in the corner to Morozova’s left and circled the net to open the scoring on a wraparound. It was the veteran power forward’s sixth goal of these Women’s Worlds

Spooner, who became the first player to win both an Olympic gold medal and a CWHL Clarkson Cup with the Toronto Furies in the same year (2014), also converted two wraparounds on Morozova in the round-robin game.

Post-game, Spooner reflected on the sudden demise of the CWHL, which officially shuts down on 1 May: “I felt like our league was going so well. Is there a bigger picture to this? Obviously we want something better. We want one league. We want what we deserve as female hockey players. I think that there’s obviously a lot of questions and I’m not even sure they’ll get answered. But hopefully if we’re united and we stand strong, we can get what we deserve and make something that has never been around for women’s hockey. “

Bourbonnais made it 2-0 at 15:31 with a nice, rising slapshot from just outside the right faceoff circle.

“It was a great feeling,” said Bourbonnais. “It was a great pass from Sarah Nurse. Just playing on this team is amazing. It’s been a dream of mine since I was little. So to be able to score was a surreal feeling.”

Top Canadian blueliner Laura Fortino saw time at forward in the absence of Blayre Turnbull, who was injured in the loss to Finland. At the intermission, Turnbull, scratched top goalie Shannon Szabados, and injured captain Marie-Philip Poulin were all seen walking down from the stands to support their teammates in the Canadian dressing room.

In the second period, the Canadian target practice continued. At 9:38, Johnston caught Morozova flat-footed with her quick five-hole shot from the left faceoff circle to put Canada up 3-0.

The game then witnessed a litany of sloppy penalties, mostly to Russia. However, Canada neglected to extend its lead with the power play in the second period.

At 3:09 of the third, Gabel capitalized on a giveaway by the Russia netminder to make it 4-0. The 21-year-old has been a bright spot for Team Canada in Finland.

“We now have what I would call a legitimate natural goalscorer,” said Pearn.

Rattray got Canada’s first power play goal of the evening at 8:13 on a video-reviewed deflection. Fortino, unfortunately, hobbled off after getting tangled up in a collision with an opponent, and stayed off. At least her teammates had the game well in hand.

“Coming into the game, we definitely wanted to hold ourselves accountable to do the little things and have our habits,” said Spooner. “Because that’s what’s going to win us games.”

Ambrose swooped in from the point to collect a loose puck and roof it home for another power play marker and a 6-0 edge at 14:21. And Gabel scored again on a breakaway less than a minute later, tying her with Spooner for the team lead in goals (six). Russia yanked Morozova in favor of Anna Prugova to close out the game.

“We’re a tight group and this is probably one of the tightest Team Canadas I’ve ever been a part of,” said Ambrose. “So I’m really happy we were able to stand on that line and hear our anthem. Not the colour we wanted, but it’s stll a proud moment to hear your anthem at the end of the day.”

Overall, there are some positive indications for the Russians. While they clearly have a long way to go before they can compete effectively with the North Americans, their program has not regressed. Russia has now come fifth or better at eight of the last nine Women’s Worlds.

More investment, ice time, coaching, and general prioritization of women’s hockey could spur improved results in the future for a country that produces some of the world’s most talented male players. We’ll wait and see what happens when Russia comes to Canada for the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia.

“We need more young girls to recruit so we can feel the competition between us,” Vafina said. “Then we can grow. We need to practice and keep in the back of our mind that there’s somebody else who’s better, and you have to do every day better than yesterday, you know? Work needs to be done in every field.”

Hungarian women earn historic promotion

The Hungarian players celebrate historic gold at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A and will for the first time play in the top division of this category

By Szabolcs Zavodszky – IIHF.com

Host Hungary won the gold medals at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A in Budapest by only having one blemish on its record which was a shootout lose to Slovakia. They will be promoted together with second-ranked Denmark.

“This is a sweet taste since there was tremendous pressure on the team. We played against some hard opponents as we battled for promotion, this is a great feeling right now. We needed to play as a team and not rely on two or three key players,” said Hungary’s head coach Pat Cortina after the last game, a win against neighbour Austria.

Heading into the tournament there were no clear-cut favourites to win the group but it did make things easier that the top-two teams in the group were to move up to the top division with the new format and ten teams. Hungary and Denmark will replace Sweden and France for the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Halifax, Canada.

Everyone knew that a loss would not eliminate the chances of promotion but make things harder. When asked just about what their expectation were for the tournament, almost every head coach said the same. That they will be taking the tournament one game at a time but they feel that they have a team that can earn promotion to play in Halifax next year.

Back to Budapest, the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A started off with Denmark getting past Slovakia by the score of 3-1 thanks to a brace by Josephine Jakobsen. In the second game of the opening day Hungary just got past Norway 2-1 as Averi Nooren scored a goal and helped set up one as well. The opening day closed out with Austria cruising past Italy 4-1, Theresa Schafzahl closed out the match with two goals.

All six teams were back on the ice the following day, Denmark got past Italy 6-1 as all six goals were scored by someone different. Hungary hit a road bump as they lost to Slovakia 2-1 in sudden death shootout. Norway squeaked out a one goal win in a game that produced nine goals in total. After the second day the two Scandinavian countries were sitting at the top of the standings.

Silver makes happy if you earn promotion. Denmark will play at the top-level Women’s Worlds for only the second time after 1992

2019 Worlds: USA and Finland to meet in gold medal game

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After nine thrilling days, the 2019 IIHF World Championship are down to the final moments.

Canada, who fell to the host nation in the semifinal, will meet Russia at 9 a.m. EST on the bronze medal game. Canada has never won anything less than a silver medal while Russia has won three bronze medals.

It’s a curious time for the Canadian National Team. They haven’t won an international tournament since the 2014 Sochi Olympics. They’ll still be missing star and captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who suffered a lower-body injury in her final regular-season CWHL game.

Despite needlessly dressing for the Clarkson Cup Final, Poulin did not play in the CWHL playoffs. She came to Finland with numerous questions regarding her fitness only to play one game and appeared to reinjure her knee in the process. In the semifinal, forward Blayre Turnbull left the game with the injury.

In preliminary play, Canada beat Russia, 5-1.

In the gold medal game, Finland will meet the US at 1 p.m. EST. This marks the first time in Worlds history that the final will not feature both the US and Canada. The US is in pursuit of their fifth-straight and ninth total gold medal while Finland is looking for their first placement higher than bronze.

The US’s path to the gold medal game hasn’t seen many roadblocks. They have yet to lose a game, including two steamrollings of Russia in both the preliminaries and the semifinal. Their only real test was Canada in the preliminaries, thought Japan put up a much better fight in the quarterfinals than many expected. They’ve been relatively healthy, at least compared to other teams.

Finland could possibly be without legendary defender Jenni Hiirikoski, who left the semifinal after appearing to take a stick to her head. Losing her would be a huge blow to the team, putting even more pressure on goaltender Noora Räty.

In the preliminaries, the United States best Finland, 2-6.

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.

2019 Worlds: Quarterfinals recap

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USA, Canada, Russia, and Finland are moving on to the semifinals!

Quarterfinals

United States beat Japan, 4-0

Goals

  • United States – Hilary Knight, Dani Cameranesi, Cayla Barnes, Kendall Coyne Schofield
  • Japan – n/a

This one ended up being pretty close, much closer than many expected for the quarterfinal round. After one period, Team USA led by just one goal, and after two periods, it was a 2-0 game. Japan couldn’t get much offense going in front of Nana Fujimoto, though, who had 49 saves.

Canada beat Germany, 5-0

Goals

  • Canada – Blayre Turnbull (2), Brianne Jenner, Laura Stacey, Natalie Spooner
  • Germany – n/a

We saw another outstanding goaltending performance from the Group B side, with Jennifer Harß making 56 saves for the Germans, but the Canadians rolled on to the semifinals. Shots on goal were 66-9 in favor of Canada.

Russia beat Switzerland, 3-0

Goals

  • Russia – Anna Shokhina, Yelena Dergachyova, Alevtina Shtaryova
  • Switzerland – n/a

Russia came out swinging in this one, outshooting the Swiss 18-1 through the first period and 44-14 for the game. Andrea Brändli was excellent in net for Switzerland to keep them in it, but this was a good statement win for the Russians heading into the semifinals.

Finland vs. Czech Republic, 3-1

Goals

  • Finland – Michelle Karvinen, Susanna Tapani, Jenni Hiirikoski
  • Czech Republic – Natálie Mlýnková

The Czech Republic struck first after a scoreless first period with a goal 1:31 into the second, but the Finns notched three straight goals to advance to the semifinals. The game-tying goal and Jenni Hiirikoski’s insurance goal that put Finland up 3-1 in the third period were both scored on the power play. Michelle Karvinen and Hiirikoski both finished with three-point nights and Noora Räty stopped 16 of the 17 shots she faced; Klára Peslarová made 40 saves for the Czech Republic.

Ninth-Place Game

Sweden beat France, 3-2

Goals

  • Sweden – Sofie Lundin, Emma Nordin, Isabell Palm
  • France – Clara Rozier, Chloé Aurard

There is no relegation round this year, with both France and Sweden moving down a tier next year, but they battled out to decide ninth place in the tournament. Sweden outshot France, 34-26, but the French kept it a pretty close game. Goaltender Caroline Baldin made 31 saves, and Aurard scored another big goal to pull France within one at the end of the third. Sweden ended up prevailing, thanks in large part to good performances from Winberg and Nordin, who each posted a goal and an assist.

2019 Worlds: Day 6 Recap

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Group A

United States beat Russia, 10-0

Goals

  • United States – Amanda Kessel, Cayla Barnes, Kendall Coyne Schofield (2), Megan Bozek, Lee Stecklein (2), Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Jessie Compher
  • Russia – n/a

After a tough-fought 5-1 loss against Canada yesterday, the exhausted Russian team was no match for Team USA’s firepower. Eight different goalscorers put Team USA into the double digits, and two players—Lee Stecklein and Jesse Compher—got their first goals with the national team. Although Russia was able to generate some offense, ultimately they were unable to get enough shots on Alex Rigsby to beat her, and she recorded a 12-save shutout.

Canada beat Finland, 6 – 1

Goals

  • Finland – Ella Viitasuo
  • Canada – Loren Gabel (2), Rebecca Johnston, Brianne Jenner, Sarah Nurse, Erin Ambrose

The game had the makings of a goaltender battle — Noora Raty v Shannon Szabados. But then the Canadians chased Noora Raty out of her net after she gave up three goals. Eveliina Suonpaa couldn’t stop the scoring either as she was tagged for another three goals. On the other end of the ice, Shannon Szabados made 22 saves.

Group B

Japan beat Sweden, 3 – 2

Goals

  • Japan – Haruna Yoneyama, Akane Shiga, Ayaka Toko
  • Sweden – Emma Nordin, Sofia Engstrom

What a stunner. In a battle to stay in the tournament – and the top tier – presumable underdog Japan prevailed.

Penalties hurt the Swedes as the clock ticked down as both the game tying and the game winning goal were scored while the Japanese had the player advantage. The teams entered the third period tied before Sweden took the lead. Japan responded four minutes later tying the game and took the lead seven minutes later. That would be all she wrote as Sweden couldn’t make a last minute stand.

This marks the first time Sweden was relegated out of the top tier.

Czech Republic beat Germany, 2 – 0

Goals

  • Czech Republic – Alena Mills (2)
  • Germany – n/a

Prolific Slovenia grabs gold

In one of the best years in recent history for the Slovenian women’s national team it earns promotion to the Division I Group B after winning the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group A in Dumfries

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Slovenia powered to the summit the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group A on the back of a devastating performance from its free-scoring first line.

The combination of captain Pia Pren, Sara Confidenti and Julija Blazinsek delivered 47 points in five games to set the team atop its group in Dumfries. Pren, 27, led the way with 20 (6+14) as she dominated the scoring for the tournament. Confidenti (7+7) and Blazinsek (7+6) were the key beneficiaries of those 14 helpers.

It added up to scoring power that no other nation could rival. While Slovenia hit 24 goals in its five games, the next best tally came from Mexico, trailing some way behind on 14 goals. The Slovenes also recorded the two biggest wins in the competition: 7-1 against Mexico and 6-1 against Australia.

However, there were some anxious moments for Slovenia, despite that impressive offence. The opening game against newly-promoted Spain ended in a shoot-out loss. North Korea, complete with several players who featured on the cross-border Korean team at the Winter Olympics last year, also put up a fight before losing out in a shoot-out. But, in a fiercely competitive tournament, nobody could produce consistent results. Slovenia began the final day’s play against Mexico knowing that victory would guarantee gold regardless of other results.

It wasn’t quite plain sailing: the Mexicans, always an awkward opponent in this championship, took an early lead through Joanna Rojas. The assist came from Claudia Tellez, a 2016 draft pick for the Calgary Inferno in the CWHL. That was a big lift for Mexico, which had its own hopes of top spot, and drew a cheer from the GB fans who came to watch the early game. A Slovenia loss would have given the host nation a shot at promotion if it could beat DPR Korea in the last action of the tournament.

But Slovenia was not about to slip at the last. Four goals in the closing minutes of the opening frame – Pren scored two and assisted on the others – turned the game, and the tournament, decisively.

Slovenia’s success follows the decision to move Olimpija Ljubljana, the country’s leading women’s team, to the cross border Elite Women’s Hockey League. Although the team found life tough in a competition that features rivals from Austria, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Italy, the experience of competing at a higher level provided a big boost for many of the team. Nine of Franc Ferjanic’s roster came from directly from Olimpija, while others, including Blazinsek, spent some time on that team over the course of the season.

For Pren, hockey at that level was nothing new. Before Olimpija joined the EWHL, she played several seasons with Sabres Wein and the Southern Stars, and also had a year in Sweden with Linkoping. But now she’s hoping that more girls from Slovenia will get the chance to pursue the game. Prior to this month’s tournament she gave an interview to Telekom Slovenje’s SIOL website. While acknowledging that a national championship that involves just three clubs makes it difficult for potential players to find a place to play, she was also upbeat about the progress that could be made in future.

“For starters, I want to see women enjoy the same conditions as male players in Slovenia, so that in future generations we can have the same opportunities to practice,” she said. “This would be real progress and it will come in the future. It might come in small steps and I understand that it will happen after the end of my playing career but I believe we will make progress.”

Slovenia wasn’t the only nation celebrating progress. Spain, making its first appearance, followed up last year’s promotion with a bronze medal. A 3-2 victory over Australia on the final day took Spain to nine points, with its other successes coming in that shoot-out win over Slovenia, a 2-0 regulation triumph against Mexico and a shoot-out loss to the North Koreans.

Great Britain, the host nation, took silver for the second year running. A 2-1 victory over the Koreans on Tuesday left Cheryl Smith’s team one point behind Slovenia and ruing a 2-4 loss against the eventual champion earlier in the week. DPR Korea took fifth place. At the foot of the table, Australia failed to win a game and was relegated to Division IIB after three seasons at this level.

2019 Worlds: Day 5 Recap

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Group A

Finland beat Switzerland; 6-2

Goals

  • Switzerland – Evelina Raselli, Alina Muller
  • Finland – Susanna Tapani, Rosa Lindstedt, Linda Valimaki, Michelle Karvinen (2), Minnamari Tuominen

At the beginning it looked as if the Swiss were going to give the Finns a run. Switzerland opened the scoring and phenom Alina Muller tied the game in the second period, but Finland broke out after that scoring four unanswered goals. Switzerland didn’t win a single game in preliminaries but will move on to the quarterfinals as all five Group A teams advance.

Canada beat Russia, 5-1

Goals

  • Canada – Natalie Spooner (3), Rebecca Johnston, Blayre Turnbull
  • Russia – Liana Ganeyeva

It was the Natalie Spooner show as she tallied her 50th-52nd goals for Team Canada as well as a primary assist to give Canada a safe lead early in the game. Russia pulled goaltender Anna Prugova after three goals in favor of Morozova who let in two. Russia struggled taking four early penalties, and getting no shots on goal the entire second period.

Despite losing Marie Philip-Poulin early to injury, who made her first appearance in this Worlds tournament this game for Canada, Russia could not pull it together to score more than one late power play goal by Liana Ganeyeva. Shots on goal ended 45-8 for Canada. Spooner was given player of the game along with Russia’s Anna Shibanova.

Group B

Czech Republic beat Japan, 3 – 1

Goals

  • Czech Republic – Denisa Krizova, Vendula Pribylova, Tereza Vanisova
  • Japan – Hanae Kubo

The Czech Republic continued their roll in Group B, winning their third straight game and securing their spot in the quarterfinals.

France beat Germany, 3 – 2 in overtime

Goals

  • France – Lara Escudero, Estelle Duvin, Chloe Aurard (ot)
  • Germnay – Nicola Eisenschmid, Kerstin Spielberger

It took an extra 1:44 of hockey for France to win their first game in the top tier but Chloe Aurard scored, unassisted, to secure the win in their final preliminary game. They’ll face either Sweden or Japan for the 9th place game.

Gold for Chinese Taipei

The Chinese Taipei players celebrate a goal in the deciding game against Iceland for tournament win at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Chinese Taipei enjoyed a perfect week in Romania as it won the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B. After posting five victories from five games, the team secured its second promotion in three seasons of IIHF competition, improving on last season’s silver medals at this level when it finished behind Spain in Valdemoro.

The race went down to the final day, although Chinese Taipei held the upper hand going into the tournament’s decisive game against Iceland. The Icelanders had lost game two of their campaign against New Zealand and knew that only a win in regulation would be enough to pip Chinese Taipei by virtue of a better head-to-head record. New Zealand was also in the mix, and its 5-1 victory against Croatia in Sunday’s opening game would set up a three-way tie on 12 points if Iceland could beat the impressive Taipei roster.

The ladies from the North Atlantic gave it a good go: this game was alive until the final 10 minutes, when Hui-Chen Yeh and Sing-Lin Tao scored twice in 13 seconds to turn a precarious 3-2 scoreline into a commanding 5-2 advantage that endured until the hooter. First Yeh stole the puck in the Iceland zone and advanced to make it 4-2, then the next attacking face-off for Chinese Taipei saw Yang-Chi Lin launch a point shot that Tao redirected past Karitas Halldorsdottir. The game, and the tournament, was won.

So what made the difference for Taipei after it came close 12 months earlier? With many players returning for Romania, the big change was a question of style. In Spain, goals flew in at either end; in Brasov, the defence tightened up. The team allowed just eight goals in the whole event – half the number from a year ago. Tzu-Ting Tsu saw her GAA drop from 2.98 to a miserly 0.72, giving up just two goals in the three games where she featured. Understudy Yun-Tzu Wang was also trusted with more minutes and produced improved numbers in this event. That all meant that a slight drop in productivity from the team’s scoring leaders, Hui-Chen Yeh and Ting-Yu Tsu was not a big problem; this was very much a case where a defence won a championship.

Iceland’s loss saw it drop to third place behind New Zealand. Second place for the Silver Fernz represents the country’s best-ever finish in IIHF World Championship play. Previously NZ’s best was a third place in Division IIB in 2017. For Iceland, it’s now three bronze medals in four seasons at this level.

Even after the top places were confirmed, there was still drama to come. The final game saw host nation Romania face Turkey needing a two-goal victory to secure its survival. A win in regulation would set up a three-way tie between those two nations and Croatia, each with three points. A two-goal swing for Romania would doom Croatia, while Turkey could still be demoted if it lost by five or more.

The Turks made a fine start, jumping to a 3-1 first-period lead with Cagla Baktiroglu banking two goals and an assist. But Romania rallied, tying the game in the second period and going in front when Ana Voicu potted her second of the night in the 48th minute. Suddenly, the home team could see a way of escaping the last place in the table but a Dilara Lokbas goal two minutes later tied the game at 4-4. Tied at 60 minutes, Romania could no longer catch its nearest rivals. Despite claiming a winner in overtime through Timea Csiszer, the Romanians will be in the Division II Group B Qualification next season.

2019 Worlds: Day 4 Recap

Pernilla Winberg scored the game-winning goal against France on Sunday in round-robin play

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Group A

USA beats Switzerland, 8-0

Goals

  • United States – Alex Carpenter, Dani Cameranesi (2), Megan Keller (2), Amanda Kessel (2), Hilary Knight
  • Switzerland – n/a

Team USA cruised to a victory against the Swiss to stay in control of Group A heading into their final game of preliminary round play. Phoebe Stänz was named the Player of the Game for Switzerland, and Keller for the United States. Janine Alder remained in net all game for the Swiss and made 41 saves, despite the onslaught of goals from the American attack.

Group B

Sweden beats France, 2-1

Goals

  • Sweden – Melinda Olsson, Pernilla Winberg
  • France – Lara Escudero

Sweden desperately needed a win in this one to avoid relegation, and they got one in a nail-biter against the French. Escudero actually opened the scoring in the first, France’s best period of the game; they put up 10 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes and 10 for the rest of the game. Sweden came storming back in the second, netting two goals to gain a 2-1 lead and outshooting the French, 15-4. Caroline Baldin turned in another great performance for Team France, stopping 38 shots to keep it a one-goal game.

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