Germany opened the final day of preliminary round play in Brampton with a 2-1 win over Hungary. The Hungarians needed a W in order to attempt to avoid relegation, while Germany was looking to guarantee a trip to the quarter-finals.
Defender Ronja Hark scored her first Women’s World goal 10 minutes in, shooting from the point with Franziska Feldmeier screening Aniko Nemeth. The Germans spent much of the first period cycling the puck around Hungary’s zone, and Sandra Abstreiter looked calm and collected in net each time the Hungarians managed to test her.
After prolonged puck possession in Hungary’s end, Feldmeier fed the puck to the front of the net, where it was poked across the line by Nicola Eisenschmid to give Germany a 2-0 lead heading into the second period.
"I think the first period was pretty good from our standpoint," said Hark. "We dominated and scored twice and then defended the lead. We could have been better after that, but we did a good job blocking shots and got the win, which was the important thing. Now we go to the quarter-finals against the USA. We want to win."
Reka Dabasi was the game changer for Hungary in the second period, scoring in the first minute by redirecting a shot by Lotti Odnoga past Abstreiter to cut Germany’s lead in half.
"We had one bad and two good periods. Unfortunately, at this level, 40 minutes is not enough," said Hungarian head coach Pat Cortina. "We have to give the Germans credit. They were good in their end and their goaltender was really solid. We could have done a better job getting inside in front of her. We bounced back after the first; I’m proud of the girls’ effort after that. It’s a tough game for us to play."
Dabasi almost tied the game on the power play, first with a shot that slipped through Abstreiter’s pads, but across the crease, and then with a wrister that pinged off the post. Hungary kept Germany to just three shots in the second period, with the German’s best scoring opportunity coming from Laura Kluge, who received a long pass up ice from Nina Jobst-Smith and split Hungary’s defence for a near breakaway.
"We had nothing to lose, we came here and said let’s play our best hockey that we can and be confident," said German captain Daria Gleissner. "We’re all pretty good hockey players and we just showed up and it was amazing. We had a pretty good start against Sweden and that gave us a lot of confidence. I think the key is confidence, just keep puck possession and just keep it simple. Move around, find the right spots, and then bring pucks to the net, that’s all."
Germany’s only power play opportunity of the game came in the third period, and the Hungarian penalty kill looked the best it has all tournament, with Fanni Gasparics nearly scoring shorthanded. With nothing to lose and only one goal needed to tie the game, Hungary pulled Nemeth with two minutes remaining for the extra attacker. As players crashed the net, Abstreiter made a diving save to keep the score at 2-1. With this win, Germany qualifies for the quarter-finals, guaranteeing an improvement on their ninth place performance in 2022. Hungary will finish in the bottom two of Group B and will be relegated to Division I for 2024.
"If you look over the history of the last 13 years of what the girls have done, coming from 27th in the world to now 9th, it's just amazing to see the growth of Hungarian hockey," said Hungary's Hayley Williams. "Maybe we have a little setback now, but we’re not done. We’ve still got a few years to the next Olympics and I think that our major goal is to be able to qualify for that. Just because we had a little hiccup right now doesn’t mean we’re going to stop working. We’re going to be back."