It is not a shock in today’s sports climate that there were athletes who missed out on competing at high-level sporting events because of the Covid pandemic. After the 2021 edition didn’t take place, the participating U18 women’s team will play the Division IA tournament in April.
The Hungarian team has the benefit of playing on home ice. Hungarian head coach Botond Bedo said: “Playing in front of our home fans will be a great help for us, not just family members but Hungarian hockey fans as well.”
Heading into training camp Bedo highlighted what they needed to focus on before the World Championship. “We will focus on developing our own play in both the offensive and defensive zones as well as finding the players who we will be taking us to the World Championship,” he added. “Our strength is that we are able to play as one team. We have a number of skilled players who know how to play as one.”
In 2020 the Hungarian U18 women’s national team finished in third place for the second year in a row. From the 2020 team there are one goalie, two defenders and four forwards that still belong to the U18 age group. This group of girls could be the backbone for a strong group of players who have the chance to do something special. With Slovakia being moved up to the top division, this will be a five-team race for gold. Head coach Bedo said: “I think that all of our opponents are strong and we will not take any of them lightly. However, Japan will be the hardest opponent in my opinion.”
With the tournament being composed of five teams instead of the usual six, any of the teams will have a chance to take home the gold and earn promotion. When asked about what the team would like to achieve in Gyor, Bedo mentioned that he wants his players to play to the max. “We would like to have the players to play their best to their abilities and to leave everything on the ice. I think we will not be playing to avoid relegation but to finish as high as possible in the standings.”
The final roster has goalie Fruzsina Szabo returning between the pipes with defenders Dorottya Gengeliczky and Nina Szelenyi holding the blueline. Up front from the players who return and will provide the goals are Nina Ivady, Adel Marton, Regina Metzler and Dora Veghelyi.
One player worth mentioning is Metzler, who despite being only 16 years old has represented Hungary at the senior level both at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship last August in Canada and at the Olympic Qualification as well.
Bedo does not want to specifically mention names but is positive about the potential makeup of his squad. “We have a strong core of players who were on the team two years ago. We are lucky that two years ago when they were younger they were not fringe players but player who were getting regular ice time. The players have experience who can help the younger players.”
The tournament starts today and all games can be watched live through the game centre on IIHF.com.