China up, Slovakia down
by Andrew Podnieks|24 AUG 2023
Qiqi Lin scores the goal that takes China to the top level of the Women's Worlds for the first time since 2009.
photo: IIHF / CIHA
On an historic day at the Women's World Championship, I-A, China defeated Austria, 2-0 to remain a perfect 4-0 and earn promotion to the top level of WW play for the first time since 2009. At the same time, Slovakia's fourth loss in as many games means it will be relegated to I-B for next year. There is still one more pormotion to be awarded on Saturday, with Netherlands in the driver's seat for now. Austria and Denmark still have a chance.

Netherlands 6-Norway 3
The highest-scoring game of the tournament so far brought with it two results. First, the Dutch have put themselves in an excellent position to earn promotion with one game left to play. Second, the Norwegians cannot be promoted, despite the best efforts from Millie Sirum, who scored all three of her team’s goals (all of which came on assists from Emilie Kruse). 

Bieke van Nes had two goals for the victors while Jet Milders also had three assists. Norway actually led 3-1 early in the second before the Dutch rattled off five unanswered goals to secure the win.

Sirum opened the scoring just 3:28 after the opening faceoff. She knocked in a rebound off a Kruse shot that goalie Eline Gabriele couldn’t control. Bobbi Strople tied the game midway through the period on a power play, wiring a shot from the top of the circle that beat Kaja Ekle cleanly. The 21-year-old Ekle was seeing her first action of the tournament. 

Sirum then scored two goals 73 seconds apart early in the second to give Norway all the momentum. The first came on a power play, Kruse setting Sirum up for a long shot that went all the way at 4:16. The second came off a faceoff win in the Dutch end and a quick shot that fooled Gabriele.

But just when it looked like Norway was in control, Netherlands fought back. Aimee Steppenwolde’s quick shot after winning the faceoff snuck through Ekle at 9:49 to make it a one-goal game, and two minutes later Kayleigh Hamers tied the score after she came out from behind the goal and fired the puck past Ekle on another power play. 

The comeback turned into a lead on another 5-on-4 when Hilde Huisman’s long shot went in. That spelled the end for Ekle, as coach Marco Kronenburg put in Linnea Holterud Olsson, who had played all three earlier games in the tournament. It wasn’t enough, though, as van Nes scored twice in the third, one on a power play, their third of the game, and the second into the empty net. 

Denmark 2-Slovakia 1
Slovakia scored first, but Denmark came back to secure a victory to keep their dreams of promotion alive. But with the loss, Slovakia will now be demoted to WW-I-B for 2024. They have lost all four games and have managed only three goals along the way, and although they are a young team with much talent, they will have to start a level below next season.

The Slovaks knew the importance of this game, and started with that all-important first goal. Barbora Kapicakova fired a bullet off a 3-on-3 rush, beating Emma-Sophie Nordstrom low to the far side from the right faceoff dot. But the Danes dominated the remainder of the period, and it was only a matter of time before they tied it, which they did at 18:05. Captain Nicoline Jensen skated in over the Slovakia blue line and used Lucia Drabekova as a screen to beat Andrea Risianova with a long shot. It was Jensen’s third goal of the tournament.

Josefine Jakobsen scored the winner early in the third, banging in a rebound that Risianova couldn’t control. Try as they might, the Slovaks couldn’t tie the score, and with the defeat they find themselves demoted.

China 2-Austria 0
Qiqi Lin (Leah Lum) has done it again. The woman who scored two goals against Denmark to give China its first victory at the 2022 Olympics scored the winning goal tonight in Shenzen to give her team a 2-0 victory and promotion to the top level of the Women's Worlds for the first time since 2009.

It was Lin's first goal of the tournament on a night she had a game-high seven shots. China's Tiya Chen (Tiya Chan) made 30 saves for her second shutout of the tournament while Austria's Selma Luggin, who stopped 28 of 29 shots, has now allowed only three goals in four games.

The game was a goaltender’s battle between arguably the two best puckstoppers in the tournament, Luggin and Chen, and the game’s importance made this a defensive and cautious one from start to finish.

Indeed, the opening period was marked conservative play, scoring chances few and far between. The closest either team came to scoring was early on when Minghui Kong smacked a shot off the crossbar behind Luggin.

The first power play didn’t occur until late in the second, when Laura Luftenegger was sent off for an illegal hit, and China didn’t waste any time in capitalizing. Lin banged in a rebound from the side of the goal at 14:03 after Luggin couldn’t control a point shot, sending the home fans into a frenzy.

By contrast, the third period was wide open and thrilling, as Austria looked to tie the game. China had chances on the counterattack, but both goalies were fantastic. Yuting Wang (Jessica Wong) added an empty netter with 11.1 seconds remaining, giving China a place in WW 2024 in Utica, New York next spring.

Today’s Three Stars
*Millie Sirum (NOR, hat trick in losing cause)
**Andrea Risianova (SVK, stopped 25 of 27 shots)
***Qiqi Lin (CHN, hero of the day)

UP NEXT: Friday is a day off for all teams before the final day of the tournament: Slovakia-Austria (13.00 local), Denmark-Norway (16.30), China-Netherlands (20.00)