DUMFRIES, Great Britain – France and Slovakia finished in the top two positions of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Qualification in the Scottish city of Dumfries, and will advance to the main tournament in Romanshorn, Switzerland.
France won the tournament after four victories in the first four games. The team was relegated two years ago to the qualification stage and missed the opportunity to return last year, ending up in fifth-place while Hungary and Great Britain advanced. But this time the French girls finished the tournament on top of the standings.
The French had the best possible start when they avenged a tight loss two years ago against Slovakia by defeating the same nation 3-2 in the first game of the tournament.
Maëlle Rioux opened the scoring after 64 seconds of play and Lisa Bauer made it a two-goal lead before the first intermission, but Slovakia tied it up with goals from Andrea Fortunova and Patricia Gorecka in the second period. Estelle Duvin scored the game-winning goal at 4:24 of the third period while Jeanne Morin had 38 saves in the French net.
France continued with wins and defeated Kazakhstan (5-0), Great Britain (3-2) and China (3-0) to ensure first place before losing 1-0 to Italy in the last game.
Estelle became the tournament’s top goal scorer with six goals and two assists. Only two players had more scoring points, her teammate Bauer (2+7=9) and scoring leader Louisa Lippiatt Durnell (3+8=11) from Great Britain.
The second team to advanced to the Division I tournament in Switzerland was determined in the very last game of the tournament. Slovakia and Great Britain had a 3-1 record before the last round and faced each other in a winner-take-all game for second place behind France.
Slovakia had a good start to the game and eventually outshot the British 41-25, but the opponent didn’t make it easy. Gorecka opened the scoring 41 seconds after the first puck drop, but just two minutes later Kimberley Lane tied it up.
The Slovaks were more successful in front of the British net in the second period. First they killed a British power play in which Bethany Scoon missed on a penalty shot. And one minute later Iveta Klimasova claimed back the lead for Slovakia. Natalia Palova and Denisa Lalikova extended the score to 4-1 before entering the third period.
The British tried to get back into the game and Saffron Allen and two minutes before the end of regulation time Lippiatt Durnell with a shorthander cut the deficit for Great Britain, but the 4-3 lead for Slovakia remained on the scoreboard until the final buzzer sending the Slovak team to the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division I.
Italy finished the tournament in fourth place before China and winless Kazakhstan.
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The 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division I for the teams ranked 9th to 14th in the program will take place in Romanshorn, Switzerland, 2-8 January. Switzerland, Austria, Japan and Norway are the four top-seeded teams that will be joined by France and Slovakia.
The top division of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship will be staged in Heinola and Vierumäki, Finland, 29 December to 5 January. Canada, Germany, Finland and newly promoted Hungary will play in Group A; the United States, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Russia in Group B.