Hungarian women earn historic promotion
by Szabolcs Zavodszky|14 APR 2019
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.
photo: Laszlo Mudra
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.
photo: Laszlo Mudra
The teams enjoyed a day off on Tuesday before they were back to battle it out on Wednesday. It looked as if the day off did not help everyone as Norway, who was tied for first place, struggled to get past winless Italy with Denmark blowing a 2-0 lead and falling to Hungary 6-2. Hungary was able to turn the game around with a string second period where Fanni Gasparics scored two goals and helped set up another two. Austria needed overtime as they picked up two out of the three points against Slovakia. Through the first three games of the tournament every team had dropped points somewhere along the way. The host national of Hungary was sitting in first place with seven points with four other teams still having a chance at promotion.

The second to last match day really brought the group picture into focus as Norway shut out Slovakia 4-0 thanks to the excellent play of Nystrom in net. Like Norway Hungary also wanted to take a step towards promotion, they did this by lighting up Italy by the score of 9-0. Aniko Nemeth had the shutout while Gasparics finished the game with five points. In somewhat of a surprise Austria put eight goals past Denmark in an 8-3 win. 

Heading into the final game day no team had locked up promotion. Denmark, Norway, Austria and Hungary all could have closed out the day with a top-two finish. In the first game of the day Slovakia just got past Italy by the score of 2-1. Denmark pulled off a bit of a surprise as they shut out Norway 4-0 thanks to two goals by Jakobsen and excellent play by Repstock-Romme between the pipes.

With Norway losing to Denmark that meant that Hungary was through to the top division and Norway was out for sure.
The Hungarian players celebrate after receiving the golden trophy.
photo: Laszlo Mudra
Now it was down to who would be joining the host nation. If Austria won, Austria would take the gold and Hungary the silver and Denmark the bronze. If Hungary won, then it would be Hungary taking the gold, Denmark the silver and Norway the bronze. In short, depending on the result Austria could finish first or fourth, go up or stay where they were.

The final game of the tournament started out great for Hungary as Gasparics gave Hungary the lead 21 seconds into the game. Minutes later Austria also found the back of the net by a goal from Meixner. The game remained deadlocked at 1-1 until the third period when Bernadett Nemeth scored to make it 2-1. This would end up being the winning score as Hungary won promotion on home ice to the top division for the first time in history of the senior Women’s World Championship.
I can't even put it into words what I feel right now. We were already all pumped up when we saw how many fans came out to see us play.
Fanni Gasparics
Hungarian forward
“It also helped that before the game that we knew we had already won promotion because we did not have any pressure on us,” said the tournament's top forward Gasparics. “This being said, we always wanted to take home first place. I am very happy that the tournament went so well for me despite the hard season that I had. I always say that in the end truth always wins and we need to believe all the way until the end. In the end everything fell into place and we were able to close the season on a high note.”

Denmark earned promotion to the Division I Group A for the first time. The country had a short stint at the top level when appearing in the first ever IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship back in 1992 where it finished in seventh place. Since reappearing in international women’s ice hockey in 1999, Denmark has played either at he second or third level of the program missing out on promotion by just one win in 2013.

While Gasparics won the award as best forward, Charlotte Wittich of Austria won the vote for the best defender while Norway’s Ena Nystrom got the award as best goaltender.
2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship Division I Group A