Throughout the entirety of the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II, Group B action, The Inner Sanctum will be bringing you a daily wrap of the tournament, breaking down the key moments of each match, and what the teams can do going forward.
Australia v Iceland
The penultimate match of the tournament was the one we had all been waiting for. A top of the table clash between the two undefeated sides with the winner getting promoted and winning the gold medal.
This match absolutely lived up to the excitement from a gameplay perspective, a true back and forth contest highlighted by some top-notch goaltending from Olivia Last for Australia and Birta Helgudottir for Iceland.
Both sides started out very tentatively with not a lot happening early, but the game opened up about midway through the first period with both sides getting some good opportunities but great goaltending performances by both kept it scoreless heading into the first break.
The second period was a lot more of the same, with a good back and forth contest and neither side able to find the back of the net early on. The first penalty of the game would come 13:48 into the second, as Saga Blondal would head to the box for interference, giving Australia a power play to try and score the opener, and despite some good looks, Iceland would successfully kill the penalty and keep the game scoreless.
With 2:23 to go in the second period, Sunna Bjorgvinsdottir would score the opener for Iceland after some sustained pressure in the Australian defensive zone result in a shot coming from the top of the slot from Teresa Snorradottir and while Last would make the initial save, she would give up the rebound to Bjorgvinsdottir who was right on top of her waiting for it to give Iceland a 1-0 lead.
Australia would get an opportunity to equalise on the second power play of the game, as Blondal would once again head to the box, this time for holding an opponent with 0:37 remaining in the second, leading to some carry-over power play time in the third period.
While the Aussies would fail to equalise with the advantage, they kept the pressure generated from that power play going throughout the third period, and it would pay off as the side would level the game through Kristelle van der Wolf with 12:29 to go in regulation.
While both sides would get some good chances in the remainder of the third, including two separate power plays for Iceland to try and break the deadlock, with Rylie Ellis called for tripping, and Isla Malcolm called for roughing, the goaltending once again stood out as the game would end 1-1 and head to five minutes of 3v3 sudden-death overtime, and if needed, a shootout.
A good opportunity would come for Australia just 15 seconds into overtime as the side would get off two good shots, both deflected away by Helgudottir.
Australia would get a power-play opportunity after Iceland was called for too many players to try and end it at 4v3 with 1:43 to go in overtime but would be unable to do so, sending the game to a shootout.
Emily Davis Tope shot first for Australia, and Helgudottir would make the save.
Silvia Bjorgvinsdottir shot first for Iceland, and tried to go to the right of Last, but would go too far and was unable to get it back on target, keeping it deadlocked heading into attempt number two.
van der Wolf shot next for Australia, and have her attempt saved by Helgudottir.
Sunna Bjorgvindottir went next, having her attempt saved by Last, keeping it at 0-0.
Michelle Clark-Crumpton tried to come around the left side of Helgudottir and was unable to get it across the line.
Snorradottir shot next for Iceland, and her attempt was saved by Last, keeping it deadlocked at zero heading into shot number four.
Sara Sammons attempted to go through Helgudottir and was unsuccessful, while Ragnhildur Kjartansdottir attempted to do the same thing against Last and was also unsuccessful.
Attempt number five for both sides saw Nikki Sharp and Herborg Geirsdottir try to score with a shot through the five-hole, with neither successful, sending it to a sixth shot, still locked at zero.
Shona Green shot next for Australia, and a sprawling save from Helgudottir gave Iceland the advantage as a successful attempt would end it.
Silvia Bjorgvinsdottir went again for Iceland and attempted to do what she did in her first shot, going to the right of Last, and was successful this time, putting it past Last and giving Iceland the victory.
For Iceland, in addition to winning the gold medal, it will now be promoted after going undefeated, and look forward to a challenge in Group A of Division 2, where it will attempt promotion into Group B of Division 1.
For Australia, it will remain in Group B of Division 2, after a disappointing end to the campaign, which will see the addition of Mexico and Belgium to the group.
There is a strong core for Australia who will find plenty of success in the future, and a promising group of rookies who will help supplement the core until they become experienced enough to be the core, which should set Australia up for plenty of future achievements and ensure the future of Australian ice hockey is incredibly bright.
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Turkey v Croatia
The last game of the tournament could have resulted in any of the three other teams being relegated, depending on the outcome.
If Croatia wins, it stays up and South Africa would get relegated on goal differential unless Croatia was able to win by a margin of 20 or more, in which case Turkey would be relegated.
If Turkey were to win, Croatia gets relegated regardless of goal differential.
Alex Sena would open the scoring for Turkey 4:31 into the first period, and Ayse Kocak would make it a two-goal lead about seven minutes later.
Diana Stolar would get Croatia on the board with 7:47 to go in the first, she also find the equaliser two minutes later to give Croatia some hope of finding victory.
Dilara Lokbas would restore the lead for Turkey with 2:15 to go in the first, sending Turkey into the first break in front 3-2.
An onslaught of goals in the second period would see the result get away from Croatia very quickly, as Lokbas and Kocak would get their second goals either side of a Tugce Demir goal before Lokbas would get a hat-trick, giving Turkey a 7-2 lead, with all of that taking place inside the opening 7:20 of the second period.
Matea Marinkovic would get Croatia’s third and final goal of the match, while Turkey would go on to score three more in the second, with Betul Taygar and Sema Guven hitting the scoresheet, and Lokbas getting a fourth.
With the result beyond doubt, Croatia would pull Julija Bazdar and put Mirna Sertic in net in what would be a six-goal third period for Turkey.
Ebrar Oguz and Mirna Sertic would score their first goals of the game, and Guven would score a second before Turkey would get its first power-play opportunity as it also made a change in goal, swapping Merve Karatas for Azra Sert.
Suheda Kutluca would score just 10 seconds into the player advantage to make it a 14-3 lead.
Hatice Tuzgen Dagli would score to make it 15-3, and Lokbas would get a fifth goal to make the final score 16-3 in favour of Turkey, giving the squad its second win of the tournament, and relegating Croatia, who ended the tournament winless.
For Turkey, two tough opening matches against Australia and Iceland meant that without an upset, which it nearly pulled off against Iceland, a middle of the pack result was always going to be the most likely. There were a lot of positives for the side to take forward coming out of this tournament, and if it takes the lessons learnt, there will be strong performances for years to come.
For Croatia, this was a very tough tournament and apart from the match against South Africa, it did not look competitive at all. While relegation awaits, the players will do everything they can to get back here and earn promotion, as there was a lot of spirit shown throughout by the players, despite the results.
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