HARBIN, China – China won the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia on home ice after a 2-1 victory over DPR Korea in the final.
This year’s Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia brought new teams into the program. For the first time ever in its history the DPR Korea Ice Hockey Association and the national team of Australia participated in this women’s event.
While DPR Korea reaching the gold medal game was not a surprise it was the first touch for the Australians with Asia at the same time. Japan did not participate because of their recent participation in the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Additional nations competed earlier in the Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia Division I.
“The Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia tournament is an IIHF development platform which provides women’s national teams from Asia an additional international opportunity to play competitively as preparation for their participation in the IIHF World Championship program. This is in line with the outcome of the last Asian Strategic Planning Group meeting in Kuwait at which Asian members discussed and explored possibilities to work together more closely, especially in the women’s program, to narrow the gap in game level in comparison to European members,” said IIHF Vice President Thomas J. Wu.
The play-off round was very interesting for all teams involved until the last second. If needed the medals were given after overtime.
Korea played Australia for bronze and in this game the Australians scored first after 32 minutes of play. The game itself was balanced over the most of the time with a little bit more luck for the Koreans who tied with eight minutes left in regulation time and then scored in the extra period. The game-winning goal came from Hyein Ko at 7:51.
Especially for the gold medal game it can be said that the best teams of the tournaments played against each other. Two goalless periods made this game played with much discipline even more interesting and while DPR Korea’s So Yon Kim scored the first goal in front of 1,200 spectators, the Chinese team never gave up in front of its home crowd and had also a couple of chances to score. They eventually capitalized on one of them with Mengying Zhang’s goal at 13:22 of the third period to tie the game at one.
The game-winning goal for China was scored by Minghui Kong with just 2:50 left in the game. It threw DPR Korea back in their ambitions and possibilities of winning the tournament but underlined also the hard work from the Chinese team.
China’s Xin Fang, who was selected as the best forward of the tournament, said: “The tournament was great for all the teams and especially for Team China. We were working really hard throughout the season and this tournament was a good possibility to test on international level and against other national teams and before the World Championship. I’m happy for the team and the Chinese Ice Hockey Association but of course we need to stay focused, it’s a long journey.”
“It was a good tournament and special experience for all the teams and players,” said IIHF Project Manager Harald Springfeld. “The purpose and goal for the Challenge Cup of Asia tournaments is development. Not only for the teams but also for the game officials, who underwent a development program throughout this week.
“The tournament was a success and we would like to thank all participating teams as well as the Chinese Ice Hockey Association and the Harbin Institute of Physical Education for all the efforts to make the tournament succeed.”
China and DPR Korea will play in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group B in Ventspils along with host Latvia, the Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Hungary.
The other two teams in Harbin will compete one tier below in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group A in Asiago that includes Great Britain, host Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Poland and Korea.Click here for scores, stats and photos.
HARALD SPRINGFELD (Harbin)
MARTIN MERK (Zurich)