Day I: WW-I-A
by Andrew Podnieks|20 AUG 2023
Sofia Skriver scored two goals for the Danes in their opening-day win.
photo: © IIHF / Chinese Ice Hockey Association
Denmark, Austria, and China started the opening day of the Women’s Worlds, Division I-A, with important wins. The top two teams earn promotion and the last-place team goes down to I-B, so the fast start favours these teams as all six nations prepare for a full slate of games again tomorrow.

Denmark 6-Netherlands 1

It took only 3:29 for Lilli Friis-Hansen to give the Danes a lead they would never relinquish in the opening game of the tournament. She banged in a loose puck in front after a pass from Hannah Aldous in the corner. Less than four minutes later, 20-year-old Sofia Skriver made it 2-0 on a play started by Amanda Refsgaard in her own end. She fired a torpedo pass to Josefine Jakobsen at the Netherlands blue line, and Jakobsen spotted Skriver wide open. Eline Gabriele stopped the initial shot, but not the rebound, which Skriver herself knocked in. 

Jakobsen made it 3-0 midway through the second, and it was a beauty. She took a perfect cross-ice pass from Silke Glud and wired a one-timer past Gabriele at 12:15. The Dutch got their only goal about three minutes later, short-handed, no less. Savine Wielinga, at 34 the oldest player on the team, took advantage of a miscue at her blue line and went in alone, wiring a shot over the glove of Emma-Sofie Nordstrom to cut the Danish lead to two. Nordstrom wasn’t particularly busy this night, facing only 16 shots in all.

That was as close as they would get, though. The Danes scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to pull away and secure the three points. Glud made it 4-1 on a sensational individual dash at 6:05, and Skriver got her second of the game just 2:22 later when her long shot got through traffic and beat a helpless Gabriele. Maria Peters rounded out the scoring off another clear chance that she buried with a high shot.

Austria 4-Norway 0

Captain Anna Meixner scored two goals and goalie Selma Luggin stopped all 31 shots she faced to give Austria a huge 4-0 win over Norway this afternoon in Shenzen. Meixner scored both her goals in the second to double Austria’s 2-0 lead after the first period, after which the team shut the door and let Luggin do the rest. 

Like the Danes, the Austrians used an early goal to take control. In their case, it came on the power play. After a scrum in the corner, the puck came back to Annika Fazokas, who teed up a pass to Tamara Grascher. Her quick shot from the point squirted through the equipment of Linnea Holterud Olsson at 7:04. 
  A late goal proved heart-breaking for the Norwegians. Leonie Kutzer stripped defender Maren Knudsen of the puck behind the goal, and Kutzer got the puck out to Grascher in front. Her quick shot beat Holterud Olsson at 19:18 to give Austria a two-goal lead and all the momentum heading to the first intermission.

Meixner got her first of the game, and the team’s third, midway through the second after a nice save by Luggin in the Austrian goal. Meixner darted up ice into the Norwegian end one-on-one, took her opponent out wide, and then fired a low backhand to the far side that fooled Holterud Olsson. Luggin was terrific in the second period, when she faced 19 of those 31 total shots and was letter perfect.

And then came the final dagger, another goal in the final minute, again off Meixner’s stick, and again off a defensive miscue. Matthea Fischer had a chance to get the puck out and didn’t, and in a mad scramble around the goal Meixner spotted the puck and snapped it in. The scoreless third period ensured a critical three points for Austria, and now Norway is looking up in the standings as they prepare for their second game, tomorrow.

China 1-Slovakia 0

Minghui Kong's power-play goal late in the second period stood up as the winner, and goalie Tiya Chen (Tiya Chan) was perfect in goal for the victors. It was a game that showed China's experience against Slovakia's youth. Slovakia took the majority of the penalties (8-3) and time and again lost momentum by having to play down a skater.

It was a defensive battle highlighted by fine goaltedning, China outshooting their opponents, 46-27. Andrea Risianova was stellar for the Slovaks, while Chen was best in the final minute of the game when the Slovaks had two extra skaters.

Two of the best chances all night came midway through the second period on power plays, but in both instances it was the short-handed team that created the opportunities. China had a great chance down a skater when Ni Lin (Rachel Llanes) was alone in front, but her quick shot was stopped by Risianova. Just a short time later, Janka Hlinkova dashed up ice to create a nice chance, only to be turned away by Chen. 

The Chinese got the only goal late in the second on their fourth power play of the night when Kong tipped veteran Baiwei Yu's point shot in at 18:32. They had a long 5-on-3 in the third, but Risianova was solid, and in the final minute, with the Slovak net empty and Baozhen Hu (Maddie Woo) in the box, Chen was rock solid to preserve the win.

Today’s Three Stars

*Sofia Skriver (DEN, two goals in opening win)
**Selma Luggin (AUT, stopped all 31 shots)
***Minghui Kong (CHN, perfect tip, only goal)

UP NEXT: Monday’s games include Denmark-Austria (13.00 local), Slovakia-Netherlands (16.30), and Norway-China (20.00)