Slovakia dominates on day one
by Liz MONTROY|01 APR 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Guntis Lazdans

The opening day of the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group B tournament in Riga, Latvia saw Great Britain narrowly edge Italy for an important early win while Slovenia surpassed Poland, the 2023 silver medallists, and Slovakia dominated over the host nation.

Great Britain 1 - Italy 0

Great Britain goaltender Nicole Jackson had a 44-save performance to shutout Italy in the opening game of the tournament. Following a scoreless first period, Great Britain captain Jodie Alderson-Smith scored the only goal of the game at 37:55, tapping in a rebound off a rush led by her linemates, Kathryn Marsden and Laura Horwood.

Horwood, a former U Sports player with Saint Mary’s University, was one of five players from Great Britain making their senior international debut, including Jamie Endrizzi, Chloe Needham-Potts, Ellie Patrick and Lizzie Saunders.

Italy was unable to tie the game in the third period, despite a late penalty to Great Britain. This marks the first time that Great Britain (who narrowly avoided relegation last year with just one win over Kazakhstan) has beat Italy since 2009.

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Guntis Lazdans

Slovenia 4 - Poland 1

Slovenia’s captain and all-time leading scorer Pia Pren opened scoring on the power play, deking around a Polish defender and goalie Martyna Sass to give her team a 1-0 lead just over three minutes into the game. Poland tied the score 58 seconds later, with a one-timer from Bemidji State University commit Julia Zielinska.

That ended up being the only goal scored on Slovenian goaltender Pia Dukaric, who by the final whistle had made 65 saves and helped her team kill seven minor penalties, which including 51 seconds of 5-on-3 in the first period.

A long shot from defender Tamara Svetina on the blue line found its way through traffic and into the net at 15:36, giving Slovenia back the lead. Julija Blazinsek added to her team’s tally early in the second period, getting open in front of the net for a pass from Gaja Pezdir. Eighteen year old Arwen Nylaander scored Slovenia’s fourth and final goal in the third period on the power play, a wrister off a pass from Pren.

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Guntis Lazdans

Slovakia 7 - Latvia 1

The final game of the day at Volvo Sportcenter featured the host nation and 2023 Division II Group A gold medallists, Latvia, against the team relegated to this division last season from Division I Group A, Slovakia.

Both teams scored power play goals in the first period, with Latvia getting on the board first at 5:12 with Anna Lagzdina tapping in a loose puck. Former PHF player Janka Hlinkova tied the game with one second left in the first period, taking advantage of a scramble in front of Latvian goaltender Kristina Apsite following a shot from the blue line by Krista Yip-Chuck.

Slovakia erupted in the second period, with 29 shots on net and six goals. Livia Kubekova, Tatiana Blichova—who has lit up Slovakia’s women’s league this season with ZHK Sarisanka Presov, leading all players in points—and Ema Tothova scored their first ever senior World Championship goals. Sixteen year old Tothova scored twice, one of which was shorthanded, with Barbora Kapicakova also contributing two goals. Latvia kept Slovakia at bay in the third period, but was unable to generate many opportunities of their own, and Slovakia took the win convincingly.