After a lucky goal for Denmark to open scoring, Czechia peppered goaltender Lisa Jensen with shots and capitalized on a string of Danish penalties to take Saturday night's game in Frederikshavn by a score of 5-1, Czechia’s second win in as many days.
Denmark carried the momentum for the opening minutes, getting on the scoreboard first with a fluke power-play goal. Michelle Weis dumped a bobbling puck into Czechia’s end, which was fumbled by goalie Klara Peslarova with her glove and slipped into the net.
"I think we came out exactly how we wanted to come out to this game," said Danish head coach Bjorn Edlund. "I think we were the better team at the start. I don’t know if they underestimated us. We played with speed and courage."
The Czech team shook off Peslarova's mistake and kept the atmosphere light, a practice that head coach Carla MacLeod has worked on instilling in the team.
"She’s keeping us very confident in what we do. She believes in us and she trusts the process," said Natalie Mlynkova. "It always helps players to play for a coach who is trusting you on the bench. When you make a mistake, it’s not that big of a deal, you will just fix it."
Five minutes later, Czechia evened the score with a power-play goal of their own. Katerina Mrazova received a pass at centre ice from Dominika Laskova, skating through the middle of Denmark’s defence corp to score on Jensen. This game marked a change in goaltending for Denmark, with Cassandra Repstock-Romme on the bench as the backup.
"We wanted to get both goalies in to game shape and we know what Cassandra can bring, what Lisa can bring," said Edlund. "I think she did a terrific job, she played her heart out."
"I think Denmark played really well from the beginning, and we kind of couldn’t find a way, so we kind of simplified the game and tried to put more pucks on the net," said Mrazova. "I think it’s really important to keep the puck moving and, obviously we are hungry to score and just really excited for each other."
Czechia’s top line of Sapovalivova, Mrazova and Mlynkova were itching for their team to score another goal, combining for 20 shots throughout the game. That goal would finally come on a 5-on-3 power play late in the second period, with Mlynkova and Mrazova connecting on a slick give-and-go play. Mlynkova sent the puck behind the Danish net to Mrazova, who then sent it back across the crease to Mlynkova to set her up for her second goal of the tournament.
"We talk about it all the time, stay relentless, be hungry," said Mlynkova. Her and Mrazova are both excited about the chemistry they have found playing together with Sapovalivova. "We are able to find each other on the ice. We keep playing our game and at the end of the day it pays off, so we are grateful for that."
Defender Daniela Pejsova also scored her second of the tournament, stepping in from the blue line and making a move around a Danish winger early in the third period to bring the score to 3-1. Despite the slow start, Czechia amassed 49 shots by the end of the game, as well as two final power-play goals from Michaela Pejzlova and Pejsova.
"We know that we’re playing against a team that is really good at moving the puck. They want to stretch out our team, and we tried to keep away from that. I mean, 5-on-5 it’s a 1-1 game. We had nine PKs, and they scored on four," said Edlund. "We’re playing against odds. I honestly think that we have deserved some more scoring on those chances. We deserve more, when you look at the effort that we put in, but it’s not been like that the first two games. But we’re going to use that adversity to our favour in the last two games."
Now at the halfway point of the preliminary round, Czechia continues to lead Group B with six points, while Denmark remains the only Group B team yet to secure a point.