In a game of wild momentum swings, Emma Kreisz’s power-play goal with 4:46 to play capped a Hungarian comeback from a 3-1 deficit that became a 5-3 win. The loss eliminates Norway, whose only hope was to win by at least two goals and keep alive the possibility of a three-way tie. Hungary will face the Czech Republic on Sunday which will see the winner advance to Beijing.
“I think we worked as hard as we could but it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” said Norwegian forward Mathea Fischer, who scored two goals in the game. “But I have to say, I’m proud of the girls for the effort we put in.”
The first period was scoreless, despite Hungary outshooting Norway 16-3 and having three chances on the power play.
“I think we started off a bit tight and tentative; not as free-flowing as I’d hoped,” said Hungarian head coach Lisa Haley. “The Norwegians are very structured, especially defensively, and it’s hard to find space against them.”
Hungary opened the scoring two minutes into the second period when Nystrom went behind the net to stop a shoot in, but she was instantly pressured by two Hungarian forwards. As she scrambled to get back into her crease, Imola Horvath centred to Regina Metzler, who fired it over the goalie’s shoulder and into the top corner from a sharp angle.
It seemed like Hungary might be ready to take control of the game, but instead momentum swung mightily in Norway’s favour, starting with two penalties in the 26th minute that gave them a 5-on-3. On that Norwegian advantage, Madelene Haug Hansen’s shot hit the skate of Hungarian penalty-killer Franciska Kiss-Simon and into the net to tie the score.
Just 26 seconds later, with the Norwegians now up 5-on-4, they took the lead. Fischer stole the puck behind the net and wrapped it around with Aniko Nemeth looking over the wrong shoulder.
Just seven seconds after that, another Hungarian penalty, this one to Taylor Baker for tripping, resulted in another goal by Fischer. This time, she pulled the puck out of a mad scramble in front and fired it over a fallen Nemeth.
“We did a good job of drawing power plays and we got some momentum going there,” said Fischer. “The goals that I got, the other players did all the work and I was lucky to be in the right spot to put it in.”
And the Norwegians, who had only 10 shots on their first four periods of this tournament, had 12 in the second period of this game and looked to build on their lead. Karoline Pedersen skated in alone on Nemeth but was stopped. Another shot hit the post.
Hungary started to push back and with under five minutes to play in the middle frame, they got one back when captain Fanni Gasparics potted a rebound.
“We’d been putting a lot of pressure on the Norway defenders, and we’d just got back into the zone,” Gasparics described. “One of our players put a shot on net and I was first on the rebound and I knew that I needed to shoot it high, and that’s where it went.”
“We dug ourselves a two-goal hole when we got into penalty trouble,” said Haley. “But that goal at the end of the second period was a huge lift for us heading into the third.
Trying to protect the lead, Norway went back to playing stingy defence in the first half of the third period, but the door opened for Hungary when Lene Tendenes was sent off for boarding with 10:37 to play. It took 20 seconds to get the equalizer when Hayley Williams knocked the puck off the stick of a Norwegian penalty-killer trying to clear the zone, and it went to Kinga Jokai-Szilagyi, who buried it upstairs.
Five minutes later, Hungary was back on the power play when Tendenes was back in the box for tripping, and this time they worked the puck around and Alexandra Huszak found Kreisz in the slot, who one-timed it home.
Norway got another chance on the power play, which became a 6-on-4 when they pulled Nystrom. They had some good looks, but Nemeth was steady. Hungary looked to have one shot at an empty net when play was halted due to broken glass above the penalty box door, but Mira Seregely made good with 1:33 to go to provide some insurance.
“It’s tough, but we’ve gotta bounce back and be ready for tomorrow,” Fischer said about tomorrow's game against Poland, which will now be for third place in the group. “We've still got a lot of pride as a group and still a lot of work ahead of us to get ready for the World Championship.”
“This was a big win and we’ll enjoy it tonight and get a good night’s sleep,” said Gasparics. “Tomorrow will be an even bigger game – maybe the biggest ever for Hungarian women’s hockey – because it’s our team’s big dream to go to the Olympics.”