Norway undefeated with third period comeback
by Liz MONTROY|14 JAN 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation

Battle for top spot continued on penultimate day of competition

Poland 5-Australia 0

 Matylda Stepien became the third Polish player to score a hat trick at the 2024 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Group B tournament on Saturday, with Poland rebounding from Thursday’s loss to Spain with a convincing shutout win over Australia.

Poland’s defence got in on the scoring as well, setting up both of Stepien’s first period goals. At the seven minute mark, defender Milena Piasecka (who had three assists and was on the ice for four of Poland’s five goals) skated the puck into Australia’s zone, with Stepien moving into the high slot for a shot. Ten minutes later, Stepien tipped in a shot from defender Patrycja Wojcik.

Poland doubled their lead in the second period. Lena Zieba scored unassisted at 27:22, a long wrist shot that went past Australian goaltender Amelia Knott, who relieved Olivia Gargano at the start of the second period. Australia found themselves shorthanded four times throughout the game, and while their penalty kill was mostly effective, a shot from Wojcik found its way through in the dying seconds of a penalty to Hannah Cryan. Stepien clinched the hat trick in the final minutes of the third period, becoming Poland’s leading scorer.

Korea 6-Chinese Taipei 1

 Korea got their first win of the tournament against Chinese Taipei, with both teams in a battle to avoid relegation as the end of the tournament draws near. Korea scored half of their goals on the power play, going three for three with the player advantage.

Seohee Shim opened scoring with a power play goal at 6:46, redirecting a shot from Juyeon Park. Shim scored again at the start of the second period, spinning away from a defender to skate in front of the net and score five hole. Chinese Taipei’s Yi-Ting Chiu faced a staggering 21 shots in the second period alone (40 shots overall).

hile she was able to make an initial save on a shot attempt from Yuan Han, Korea further increased their lead to 3-0, crashing the net and giving Han another chance to tap the puck across the line. Chinese Taipei ruined Korea’s hopes for a shutout however, with Yen-Wei Liu taking advantage of a power play and a scramble in the crease to get her team on the scoresheet.Korea comfortably maintained momentum in the third period, scoring three goals on nine shots, including power play goals from captain Jiyoon Kim and Yejin Han and Yuan Han’s second goal of the game.

 Spain 1-Norway 2

Saturday’s meeting between the top two teams in the standings did not disappoint, with Norway staging a late comeback in a close match-up with Spain.

It took nearly 15 minutes for a goal to be scored; at 14:40, Nerea Gimenez sent the puck up the boards for Claudia Castellanos to collect, with Castellanos breaking into Norway’s end on a two-on-one and opting to take the shot to give Spain a 1-0 lead. Spain held this lead for much of the game, but the hosts struggled to get the puck on Norway’s net in the second period, with Spanish goaltender Maria Sierra making 19 saves to help her team stay in front.

Six minutes into the third period, Norway’s Edle Rise Moe tipped a shot from Hedda Fredriksen past Sierra to tie the game. Sixteen-year-old Rise Moe, who made her Swedish Division 1 debut with IF Björklöven in the fall, ended up being the game-winning hero as well, scoring off a mini breakaway at 58:06 to give Norway the 2-1 victory and break Spain’s winning streak.

 Up Next

 The tournament comes to a close on Sunday with Chinese Taipei-Australia, Norway-Poland and Spain-Korea. Norway currently leads the standings with four wins, followed by Spain and Poland (one loss each). The bottom half of the standings have Australia and Korea with one win each and Chinese Taipei at the bottom with four losses.