With five points out of three games Spain hopes for a second-place finish, which depends on the outcome of the Italy-Kazakhstan evening game.
“We had a great game, moving our feet, getting pucks on net. I’m really proud of the girls. It was a full team effort to win this game,” said Sofia Scilipoti, one of the four different goal scorers of the game.
Ranked higher than Chinese Taipei and with the better performances in Torre Pellice against Italy and Kazakhstan, Spain entered the game this time not as the underdog but as the favourite against a Chinese Taipei women’s team that is among the younger programs in the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship having joined in the 2016/2017 season.
The teams had met only once before at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B in Valdemoro where Spain finished first on home ice. En route to promotion the Spaniards beat Chinese Taipei 6-1 but the Asians finished their first participation at that level with a respectable second place and won the Division II Group B one year later in Brasov, Romania.
The teams will meet again in April at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group A in Jaca, Spain.
In Torre Pellice much of the game belonged to Spain in particular in the first period. The yellow-and-red team had more puck possession, spent a lot of time in the opponent’s zone and had a 17-3 shot-on-goal advantage in the first period including two power plays. Yet the game was scoreless after 20 minutes and the pattern continued to a lesser extent for most of the middle frame.
It was Chinese Taipei’s first power play that brought change – to Spain’s advantage. The Spaniards regained the puck in the penalty kill and Eva Aizpurua was unguarded close to the opponents’ zone to receive the puck at the blue line and go for a breakaway. She beat Tzu-Ting Hsu with a top-corner wrist shot for the 1-0 goal at 13:43.
“I’m most proud of the total team effort. It was well balanced between all four lines. We worked with all of them. Even when it was tied after the first period we knew that we can have some breakthroughs,” Spain head coach Harry Rosenholtz said. “The amazing thing is that the breakthroughs for the first three goals were rookies. We had a rookie goaltender with a shutout. But overall the team was the hero.”
With the pressure of having to score moved over to Chinese Taipei, the Spaniards played relieved hockey and got more high-percentage chances. With 88 seconds left in the period, Haizea Fernandez de Romarategui deked two defenders and beat Hsu between the pads. And with 13 seconds to go, Scilipoti extended the lead to 3-0.
“In the first period we were a little slow in the beginning and gave them a lot of chances but after the first period I thought that our team really settled down and played an even game with Spain. We had some chances but couldn’t capitalize. There are a lot of areas we have to improve on but today’s performance was not bad,” said Chinese Taipei head coach An-Chung Yin.
At 3:39 of the third period Paula Moreno beat Chinese Taipei goaltender Yun-Tzu Wang, who came in for the last frame replacing Hsu, with a shot from the right face-off dot that went into the net deflected. It was the last goal in a game in which Spain outshot their opponent 44-16.
With that victory Spain finishes the tournament on a high note while Chinese Taipei will use the valuable experiences against the higher-ranked opposition as preparation for its Division IIA debut next spring.
“We’re using this tournament as an experience for our players because back home our players don’t get that much ice time,” said Yin.
“We have probably three hours of ice time per week and don’t have [female] opponents to play with. Usually we play against high-school boys and adult beer-league teams and that’s all games we can play. This tournament was a good experience for us to play against such good countries. Hopefully in the future we can improve.”