After a third-place finish one year ago, the win will lead Chinese Taipei to a Division I tournament for the first time in ice hockey history in any category of the World Championship program. Most players came from clubs in Taipei City, the biggest city on the island of Taiwan.
Going into Tuesday’s action, three of the four competing teams had a chance of taking gold. Chinese Taipei was in pole position, two points clear of the pack on five points. However, an Australian victory in regulation would have moved the girls from Down Under up to the top of the table. The Aussies would then have been hoping for a favour from Kazakhstan, the only nation unable to qualify, in the evening game against the Dutch host. In the event of an Australian win, the Netherlands could also have qualified with a regulation-time triumph over Kazakhstan.
However, Chinese Taipei was out to simplify the equation by finishing with a victory over Australia. It gained an early lead thanks to Pei-Han Yeh. She was sent on the attack by Hsaun Wang, burned past Sienna Nicholson in the left-hand channel and stuffed home the rebound from her own shot after the puck got caught under goalie Olivia Last’s skate. Despite having the better of the play, though, An-Chung Yin’s team struggled to see off a determined opponent. Australia didn’t create a huge number of chances – it trailed 18-46 on the shot count – but had a knack of producing goals when it needed them. Late in the first period, Phoebe Roberts made it 1-1 with some good work in the right-hand circle before squeezing her shot through Hsiang-Yun Hsu’s pads.
In the middle frame, Chinese Taipei regained the lead on a goal from Yun-Chu Huang, but Australia’s Taylor Robitaille tied it up a couple of minutes later, forcing home a loose puck after the Taipei defence coughed up the puck behind its own net. Goalie Hsu was furious that the goal stood, believing she had been fouled by Robitaille, and picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct minor as she threw her equipment to the ice. Her mood was not improved when Roberts potted her second of the game to give Australia the lead at the start of the third period. From a position of strength in the tournament, Chinese Taipei was now in danger of losing its grip on gold.
Enter En-Ni Chang, the tournament’s leading scorer. She brought the puck from blue line to blue line before sliding it to the centre where the unmarked Su-Tin Tang rifled home from between the hash marks with 10 minutes left to play. And Chinese Taipei confirmed the win five minutes later when Wang collected the puck behind her own goal line and set off down the ice. The 16-year-old, who represents the Black Scorpion club, got past defenceman Matilda Pethrick and roofed the puck to claim an impressive game-winner.
In the evening game, the host nation finished with a 4-1 victory over Kazakhstan to secure second place. However, the Netherlands’ 1-2 loss in its opening game against Chinese Taipei proved crucial. Third-period goals from En-Ni Chang and Yun-Chu Huang turned that game around after Abigail Liska put the Dutch in front in the opening session.
Chang finished as the leading scorer for the tournament with 5 (3+2) points. Chinese Taipei dominated the scoring charts, with two more players, Huang and Hsuan Wang tied for second place with 4 (2+2). They were joined by Kazakhstan’s Munira Sayakhatkyzy. Emma Fondse of the Netherlands was the leading goaltender, stopping 95.59% of the shots she faced for a GAA of 1.00 across her three games.