After the cancellation last spring, the Women’s Worlds in Halifax and Truro is scheduled to happen this season in the cities of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The Czechs will participate at the top level for the fourth consecutive edition. In 2019 they tied their best-ever finish, 6th place, also reached in 2016.
Hungary is less experienced at that level. The Magyars won the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A on home ice in Budapest and will play at the top level of international women’s senior hockey for the first time. After the cancellation of the 2020 Women’s Worlds, the Hungarians prepare for their premiere next spring.
The anticipation was big among the two teams before facing each other for the first time in many years and not for the last time as they will face each other in the same Olympic Qualification group on Czech ice in November 2021.
The two games in the Czech town of Litomerice were the first games of the season for the Czechs and the first under new head coach Tomas Pacina, who assembled players from clubs in five countries.
On the day before the start the teams received the green light from the health authorities that the game can take place with no spectators allowed.
“We can practise as much as we want but until we see the girls in the game, we don’t know exactly who should belong in which position,” Pacina told hokej.cz.
The games confirmed the teams’ place in the women’s hockey world as the Czechs won two times with the score of 5-0.
In the first period on Friday the teams exchanged some power plays but only the Czechs managed to score with goals from Klara Hymlarova and Sara Cajanova, who was the youngest player on her team and had celebrated her 18th birthday one week earlier.
Hymlarova and Cajanova added their second goal during the remainder of the game and Tereza Vanisova put herself on the scoreboard as well. Klara Peslarova was mostly challenged in the opening frame and needed 14 saves to earn a shutout. The Czechs outhot Hungary 35-14.
Despite the clear scores, Haley saw phases in which her team was able to keep up with the Czechs.
“I saw many game elements that we wanted to focus on and were performed well by the girls. We couldn’t always perform at the same level, it could be fatigue, loss of focus or something else, but when we played according to the system, we were effective,” Haley said on the website of the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation.
For her team it was an important learning experience as the players need to adjust to a faster pace to be able to compete in the top division. “Our players are used to have more time to decide but we have less time and less puck possession against such teams. We start learning how to play well without the puck,” she said. “We will adapt but I don’t know how fast this will happen. Any opportunity to play against teams like the Czechs will help. These are good experiences for us.”