STAVANGER, Norway – Just two months ago, four of the six teams in the Division I Group A had gathered in Poprad, Slovakia, to play for a spot in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Back then, Slovakia entered the tournament as the number one seed, ahead of Norway, Japan, and Denmark.
Japan came out on top in Poprad, while Denmark was the big surprise in the tournament, as the Danes played for the spot in Sochi in their final game against Japan.
In Stavanger, Japan and Denmark picked up where they had left off in Slovakia, with Japan winning the Division I Group A, and Denmark finishing second, despite beating Japan in a penalty shootout. Maybe it was the win over Japan, their revenge for what happened in Poprad, that depleted Denmark, but that win over Japan was followed by a loss to Austria, a team that finished fourth, after wins over Denmark and Latvia, the last-place team.
Austria’s Janine Weber won the tournament scoring title with four goals and seven points in five games, an impressive total considering that Austria scored 15 goals in the tournament. Just as impressive and important was Denmark’s Marie Henriksen to her team, with her two goals and seven points on a team that also scored 15 goals in five games.
Japan’s Hanae Kubo who was the dominant figure in the Poprad tournament, finished third in scoring in Stavanger.
However, it was Norway’s captain Line Bialik, who led her team in scoring, that was elected best forward in the tournament. The skilled centre from AIK Stockholm scored six points in five games.
The best defenceman was Japan’s Ayaka Toko, and the best goalie Denmark’s Kamilla Lund Nielsen, who, just like Bialik, plays in the Swedish league.
Nielsen played Denmark’s all five games and posted a 94.04 save percentage, which was second in the tournament, behind Slovakia’s Zuzana Tomcikova, also a flashback from Poprad, where Tomcikova posted the best save percentage.
It was a good year for the Danish women’s national team, which has taken a step forward, and an even better year for Japan, who has established itself as a developing top team.
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