“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.
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 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.
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.