Day 2: WW-I-A
by Andrew Podnieks|21 AUG 2023
Netherlands surprised Slovakia today, 3-0, to move into promotion contention.
photo: © IIHF / Chinese Ice Hockey Association
Teams go into the first off day of the tournament with the standings a veritable jumble of possibility. China and Austria are a perfect, 2-0, and in great shape to earn promotion, while Norway and Slovakia are 0-2 and in peril of being demoted. 

Austria 1-Denmark 0
Selma Luggin posted her second shutout in 24 hours, this time stopping all 28 shots in a tense and impressive 1-0 win over the Danes. The win moves Austria to the top of the standings with a 2-0 record and 6 points, while the Danes fall to 1-1 and still have 3 points from yesterday’s 6-1 win over Netherlands.

The other hero of the day was captain Anna Meixner, whose goal at 1:05 of the second period proved to be the only score of the game. It was her tournament-leading third goal and came off a little pass from Emma Hofbauer at the top of the circle. Meixner then whipped a hard shot over the outstretched glove of Caroline Bjergstad for the goal.

After a cautious opening 20 minutes, that early goal helped pick up the pace in the middle period, and both teams had chances with the extra skater. The best came midway through when the Danes had a 5-on-3 for 45 seconds, but Luggin was steady and calm the whole way. She kept rebounds to a minimum and never panicked, but Bjergstad, who faced 27 shots in the game, was just as good, excepting the Meixner shot.

Denmark poured it on in the third, but to no avail, and now Austria is in great position to think about moving up to the top level for 2024. 

Netherlands 3-Slovakia 0
Eline Gabriele stopped 33 shots for the fourth shutout in five games at the WW-I-A, giving the Dutch a much-needed 3-0 win over Slovakia, which lost by shutout for the second straight day. Despite being outshot 27-12 over the final two periods, Netherlands came away with an unlikely win and now throws the group standings into exciting chaos.

As in the first game, the opening period was quiet, but Esther de Jong got things going at 3:58 of the second. Zoe Barbier got the puck inside the Slovakia line off a fight along the boards and fed de Jong in the high slot. Her quick shot beat Andrea Risianova, who was starting her second straight game for the Slovaks. 

Savine Wielenga, the 34-year-old who scored Netherlands’ only goal yesterday, made it 2-0 exactly three minutes later when she capitalized on two great plays by teammate Kayleigh Hamers. A defender, Hamers first stripped Lucia Haluskova of the puck off the rush in her own end. Then, looking up ice, she fired a sensational pass to Wielenga at the Slovak blue line. Wielenga went in alone and made no mistake, roofing a shot over the glove of Risianova.

The Dutch then killed off two penalties to take that two-goal lead to the dressing room after 40 minutes, and converted on a power play of their own midway through the final period to extend the lead. Bieke van Nes was the scorer, redirecting a shot from Hilde Huisman to put the game out of reach. Gabriele, who faced 15 shots in the final period, was perfect in preserving the win for the Netherlands, which is now 1-1. Slovakia, 0-2 and without a goal, hopes to find a solution to their woes on the off day. 

China 5-Norway 3
China overcame a slow start to score the only three goals of the second period and skate to a 5-3 win over Norway before a thrilled 7,132 fans at the Shenzen Universiade Centre. The win moves the hosts into a tie with Austria for top spot with identical 2-0 records, while Norway falls to 0-2 with the loss.

Despite some good pressure by the hosts early on, it was Norway that opened the scoring. After moving the puck around inside the Chinese end, Emma Bergesen took a slap shot from the top of the circle that beat Tiya Chen (Tiya Chan) over the glove, giving the Norwegians the early lead at 8:26. Undaunted, China was the better team the rest of the period, peppering Linnea Holterud Olsson with 15 shots, the best of which came on a partial break by Ni Lin (Rachel Llanes). They also had the only two power plays of the opening 20 minutes but couldn’t beat the Norwegian goalie.

A wild start to the second saw Norway double its lead. Holterud Olsson made sensational reflex stops on Lin and Mulan Kang (Kas Betinol) one after the other, and Mathea Fischer was stopped by Chen on a partial break. But on a two-on-one, Marthe Brunvold fired wide, got the puck behind the China goal, and slid the puck in front to Millie Sirum, who smacked the pass in at 3:02.

But the Chinese were relentless and tied the game midway through on two quick goals. The first came just six seconds after going on a power play. A faceoff win brought the puck to Kang, and she moved in and ripped a shot past Holterud Olsson to make it a 2-1 game. Just 68 seconds later, the Chinese tied the game off the rush. Baozhen Hu (Maddie Woo)’s shot from long range was tipped in front by Minghui Kong, and the puck skittered over the goal line much to the delight of the hometown crowd. They then took the lead for the first time at 16:50 when Xin Fang banged in her own rebound from in close. 

Early in the third, though, the Norwegians tied it up on a 2-on-1. Sirum, who led the team with five shots on goal, made a perfect pass to Emilie Kruse, who redirected it past Chen on the back side of the play. Kong regained the lead for China on a 3-on-2, knocking in the rebound after Holterud Olsson had made the initial stop off Hu. Kang added an empty netter to seal the victory.

Today’s Three Stars
*Selma Luggin (AUT, 2nd shutout, has now stopped 59 shots in a row)
**Savine Wielenga (NED, 2nd goal in as many games)
***Minghui Kong (CHN, 2 goals, 3 in two games, 2nd game winner)

UP NEXT: All teams have a day off on Tuesday before resuming a full slate of games on Wednesday: Norway-Slovakia (13.00 local), Netherlands-Austria (16.30), and Denmark-China (20.00)