BARCELONA – Denmark’s national women’s team took its first step towards Sochi 2014 with a clean sweep of their opponents at the Olympic Preliminary Qualification tournament Group G, held in Barcelona.
The Danish squad edged Hungary 4-3 in its opening game of the round-robin, and followed up with a 6-0 shutout of host Spain and a 20-1 steamrolling over Croatia. Denmark will now have a few weeks off before travelling to Valmiera, Latvia for the Group F tournament of the Olympic Pre-Qualification stage.
The biggest challenge for the Danes came in the first game against eventual runners-up Hungary. The Hungarian women took a 2-1 lead into the second period with goals from Tifani Horvath and Fanni Gasparics.
Gasparics, 17, competed earlier this year in the U18 World Championship Division I, helping her team win a surprise promotion to the top division for next year. She also placed second overall in the Skills Challenge of the inaugural Youth Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck in January.
But this time around, the Danish women were able to come back with three goals in the second, and Charlotte Densing’s power-play marker near the end of the frame proved to be the game winner.
Josefine Persson had ten points in three games, putting her atop the scoring table for the tournament, with Gasparics placing second with four goals and four assists (8 points).
A ticket to Sochi is by no means assured yet for the Danes, who will face off against Latvia, Austria, and Italy in Group F. They will have to win this next tournament in order to move into the Final Olympic Qualification stage, to be held in February. If they can win this last tournament, they will book a place as one of two qualifying teams, joining the top six-ranked nations in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking who have earned an automatic berth to the 2014 Olympic Games.