On Tuesday, the final placements will be decided. The tournament’s only unbeaten team so far, Spain, will play in the final against Great Britain.
Through four games, Spain has outscored its opponents 23-1. Not surprisingly, the team has some of the highest scorers of the tournament, including 15-year-old Claudia Castellanos, who is second in goals with seven and tied for second in points with nine.
“For me, this tournament is going quite well because I’ve scored some goals and we’ve won every game so far,’ said Castellanos, who turns 16 later this month. “We have one more to go and I hope we win the gold medal. I think we can.”
While this is Castellanos’ first U18 Women’s Worlds, she has already competed in a senior women’s event. Three months ago, on home ice in Jaca in the north of the country, she played for the Spanish team that placed third at the Women’s World Championship Division II Group A.
“When the coach sent the lineup and I was on it, I was very surprised. I cried,” she recalled. “It was a very good experience. It was difficult but it was fun to play at this high level with my family and many fans watching and cheering for us.”
Castellanos played a limited role on the team and didn’t record any points at that tournament but she didn’t feel out of place, either.
“It helped me a lot and has made playing here much easier,” she said. “I am now more confident playing with the under-18 players.”
One of the big advantages of Castellanos’ game is her skating, which she has been working on since she was very young. She started out as a figure skater but switched to hockey five years ago.
“When I was at the rink, I would see the hockey practices and I told my parents that I wanted to try it,” she said. “So they let me play and I liked it, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Castellanos has played on both boys’ and girls’ teams in the Madrid suburb of Valdemoro. She split last season between the boys’ U18 team (five points in nine games), the boys’ U15 team (11 games) and the women’s adult team (18 points in 15 games).
“Playing with boys is more fun than with girls because there is more contact and it’s faster,” she laughed.
Seeing the need to go abroad to continue to improve as a hockey player, Castellanos will move in the next couple of months to Canada – more specifically, to Sudbury, Ontario, where she will play for the Lady Wolves of the Ontario Women’s U18 Hockey League and will also study there.
But first, there is one more game at this tournament. Speaking before Sunday night’s Great Britain-Netherlands game and not knowing her team’s opponent, Castellanos compared Spain’s Group D games against each, which were both 4-0 victories. However, she felt the victory over the Netherlands was more difficult.
“It was a difficult game. It was 0-0 after two periods and we didn’t really take control until the last 10 minutes,” she said.
However, she was confident that the team would be ready, regardless of the opponent. The fact that the Spaniards last played on Saturday means that they’ll go into Tuesday’s final against Great Britain on two days’ rest.
“We will practice hard and rest,” she said. “After we know our opponents, we will prepare for them and be in the right frame of mind when it’s time to play.”
WATCH: The final day of the U18 Women's World Championship Division II can be watched live on IIHF.com on the tournament page.