The Swiss came third, undone in no small part by an overtime loss to tonight’s opponent. Slovakia’s 3-2 victory in that game was its first ever win at this level as the host nation enjoys its rookie campaign in the top division. As the first-to-two-victories relegation round got underway on Monday, home fans were hoping for a repeat of that success to help save their team from an instant return to the second tier, but Zimmermann had other ideas as she led her team to a 4-1 success.
The Swiss leapt to a 4-0 lead in the first period – and Zimmermann played a leading role. She started with an assist as Ladina Staub converted the first power play of the game on 6:37. Then, three minutes later, Zimmermann scored her first goal of the game. Penalties continued to hurt Slovakia, and another power play led to a second goal for Zimmermann on the night and a third in the tournament.
Slovakia called a time out but lasted just two minutes before allowing number four. Sara Bachmann was the scorer; Sinja Leeman collected her third assist of the game. That was the end for home goalie Laura Medvidova, replaced by Nikola Zimkova.
The Swiss were in control, but Slovakia at least managed to halt the scoring. In the second period the team also stayed out of the box as the scoreline remained unchanged.
The third offered a glimmer of hope for the host – if not for the game, then for the series. Midway through the action, Romana Haluskova pulled a goal back. She also scored in the win over Switzerland in the group stage and now has six World Championship goals from three campaigns with Slovakia starting when she was just 14.
Next year, potentially, will be her fourth and final appearance in U18 hockey; the next game of this series on New Year’s Day could determine whether it will be back in the second tier.