Denmark wins in shootout
by Ameeta VOHRA|08 APR 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin
In a crucial game, Denmark earned a shootout victory 2-1 over China at the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship in Utica, New York on Sunday night.

The win was Denmark's first of the tournament.

The first period set the tone as both teams tried to test the other while getting on the scoreboard first.  Both defensive units and goaltenders displayed sheer athleticism to stop the puck from going into the net. Their special teams came up strong, both with effective powerplay killing skills.

China had an early opportunity to score first on the powerplay as Josephine Asperup was assessed an illegal hit penalty. The team came very close to scoring but goaltender Emma-Sofie Nordstrom kept it a scoreless tie. Denmark was successful at getting in front of pucks to protect Nordstrom in the period.

Less than four minutes later, China's Rui Zhu was sent to the box for goaltender interference to give Denmark an advantage.  Frederikke Foss had the best chance as she walked right into the zone and tried to tap the puck past the left corner of Jaihui Zhan but was unsuccessful. That was only one of two shots Denmark has on the powerplay.

It was more of the same in the second period. With 4:00 gone by in the period, Lilli Friss-Hansen came so close to scoring and giving Denmark the lead.  The forward shot the puck to the net but Zhan made the save.  Friss-Hansen grabbed the rebound, wrapped around the net and shot the puck wide.

Denmark would have another opportunity 8:00 into the period when Julie Oksbjerg tipped the puck from the boards and narrowly missed the shot being successful in going into the net.

The first goal of the game was scored by Denmark with 1:32 remaining in the period.  The play started in Denmark's zone. Nicoline Jensen ripped the shot out of the zone and to the far side of the ice.  Jensen's flash screen enabled Amanda Refsgaard  to launch a low blocker past Zhan and into the net.

China went on the powerplay early in the third period but could not get the equalizer.

With 1:51 remaining in the game, China tied the game up when Xin Fang shot the puck to the net and Minghui Kong scooped up the rebound and buried into the net.

In the 3-on-3 overtime, nothing was solved but Jensen had a couple of great opportunities to close out the game and get the win for Denmark.

Foss and Jensen scored the only goals in the shootout, lifting Denmark to victory.

“It was unreal, it shows we were fast, we just followed our game plan, which was awesome because we talked about that a lot yesterday," Nordstrom says.  "Just working hard, out working the team. If we can't win against team, we want to be the team that they remember fought the most.”

The goaltender gave props to her teammates who stepped in this game and all the others to protect her.

"It's unreal, especially our communication has been developing and it's really good now," Nordstrom says. "They know when to stand in front of a net, taking a player, and they know when to move. So it's awesome; it's like we're reading each other's minds.”

Denmark will finish the preliminary round on Tuesday April 9th when the team will batlle Japan.  

"It will be a great game like today," Nordstrom says,  "Japan’s a really fast and tough team, but I know if we follow our game plan and work our loving ass butt off, we'll have a win.”

China came into this game as the number 1 team in scoring efficiency. This game marked the second time China had a game that went to a shootout.  Earlier in the tournament, they were on the winning end of the shootout in their game against Japan.

"I know that I made the first mistake that made us in the position to catch up to them," Zhan says.  "Just knowing that my teammates got that back for me and that we had a second chance to get it back in overtime and in a shootout boosted my energy so much. I am just so proud of how far these girls have come throughout this tournament. Even though we had a different game against Sweden, we still came back strong. We fought hard and we tried our best today and I am really proud of them.”

The team will square off against Germany on Tuesday April 9th in their final game of the preliminary round.

"It's the same thing, we’re going to keep it one goal at a time, one shot at a time, one save at a time, and just keeping that second effort," Zhan says. "Never give up, be desperate of every opportunity we have and just keep on fighting.”