Slovakia earns historic win
by Erin Brown|10 JUN 2022
Slovakia moved on to the U18 top division quarterfinals for the first time in the country's history.
photo: Micheline Veluvolu / HHOF-IIHF Images
After back-to-back losses, Slovakia head coach Gabriela Sabolova said she wanted to see her squad shoot the puck more.

The Slovaks put the plan into action Thursday night, earned their first win and secured a trip to the quarter-finals at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship.

"The first major thing was to just get more shots on net," Sabolova said.

Captain Hana Fancovicova led her team with two goals and an assist as the Slovaks posted a 6-2 triumph over Germany in the final contest of round-robin action.

Livia Debnarova made 18 saves in her tournament debut for the Slovaks.

"Laura (Medvidova) was a little tired from the (first) two games," Sabolova said. "We decided to give a chance to Livia because she deserves it. She took her opportunity and did well."

Relegated after the 2020 tournament and promoted after Russia’s suspension from competition earlier this year, Slovakia was promoted to the top level. Sabolova said the Slovaks wanted to make the most of their second chance.

"It was our plan and our goal before the tournament," Sabolova said of advancing.
The Slovaks needed a win by at least four goals to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time in the country's history.

They did exactly that — but not without a little drama.

Late in the third period, the Germans nearly spoiled history when Yvette Reichelt scored at 12:28. Barbora Kapicakova responded with 3:47 to go, making it 6-2 and giving Slovakia the cushion it needed to advance.

"You just have to keep on," Sabolova said. "If you are on a good wave, you've got to keep on. We're not so good on defence, so we have to be active in the opponent's zone. It's better for us than to stay in our zone than be scared about what will happen next shift."

Germany got on the board first midway through the opening period on Lola Liang's second goal of the tournament. On a scrum in front, Liang collected the rebound from her initial shot, shifted to her backhand and put it past Debnarova at 10:31.

The Slovaks rebounded 84 seconds later. On the power play, Nikola Janekova fired a slap shot from the high slot. The puck hit a body in front and skipped to the bottom of the left faceoff circle, where Fancovicova scored on a snap shot.

Slovakia took its first lead of the contest with another power-play tally at 16:36 and never looked back. Janekova's shot from the left faceoff circle hit a German player in front, bounced up and over Luby and fell into the net.

Kapicakova gave Slovakia a two-goal cushion 12:39 into the second period. As a German defender went down to block the shot, the forward fired the puck high and over Luby's right shoulder.

Slovakia added two more goals in the first 4:02 of the third period. Ema Tothova, the squad's youngest player at 14, fired a blast from the top of the left faceoff circle to make it 4-1. Fancovicova added another at 4:02 to chase Luby from the net in favour of Sara Brammen.

"They were very well prepared," Germany coach Franziska Busch said. "Maybe at the beginning we wanted it too much. We had too many turnovers and shots against. That was too much offensive power and therefore fewer goals (for us)."

Next up for Slovakia is Canada, who fell 7-0 to the United States on Thursday. The teams meet Friday at 16:00.

The Germans, meanwhile, will face Switzerland in a best-of-three relegation series.

When the teams met in the opening contest on Monday, Germany defeated Switzerland, 1-0. Liang scored with 45.8 seconds remaining in the third period.

"It's hard and it hurts, but we have to prepare for the next game," Busch said. "We know the Swiss team very well. They know us very well. It will be an interesting (series)."
Germany vs Slovakia - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship