The Ice Fernz delivered host nation Romania a lesson on the ice this evening, with an emphatic 7-1 win, and have guaranteed themselves a podium placing in the IIHF Division IIB tournament.
The first frame began with the Ice Fernz dominating both possession and territory. The Kiwis drew first blood at the seven-minute mark, when a shot from Jasmine Horner-Pascoe was partially saved by the Romanian goalie. The rebound was unsecured and the puck found its way to the stick Hannah Shields, who needed no invitation to bury it deep in the net.
The Horner-Pascoe / Shields combination featured again nine minutes later, when Helen Murray and Shields orchestrated the near-perfect delivery and it fell to Horner-Pascoe to simply tip the puck in the net and nudge the score along to 2-0. The Ice Fernz dominance in the first period was exemplified by the 13-3 shots on goal imbalance, and any breeches of defence were settled by some tidy saves by Lochlyn Hyde in goal.
The Ice Fernz continued their momentum into the second period with some impressive ice time in the Romanian end. A number of shots went harrowingly close to the inside of the pipes. Romania were penalised five minutes in. It took the Ice Fernz a further minute to add to their tally when Jaime Jones showed poise under pressure to control the puck along the blueline, put it on goal, where Hannah Shields diverted the puck to the back of the net via the Romanian goalie Nadina Niciu’s five hole.
The pace continued with Horner-Pascoe featuring again, after some sustained pressure had Niciu looking more peppered than an Alabama road sign. A powerful slap shot from HornerPascoe seemingly found the goalies catcher, but the momentum was enough to force the puck across the line and light up the Goal Judges light, before the goalie tried in vain to deport it.
Against the run of play, Romanian scored at the start of the third period, when a centring puck ricocheted off a kiwi defenders skate and into the goal. However, equilibrium was quickly restored when Horner-Pascoe skated the puck up the ice, drew a couple of defenders, then drop-passed the puck to a Hannah Shields in waiting, who slotted it home for the Ice Fernz’s fifth goal. Goal number six evolved from an end-to-end skate by Horner-Pascoe, who circled the net and found Ice Fernz Captain Helen Murray nicely positioned and stick-ready. 6-1 New Zealand. New Zealand’s final goal came with 40 seconds remaining on the clock. Receiving a pass from Abby Heale, Krystie Woodyear-Smith fired a slap shot from the blueline, but an exhausted Niciu was unable to secure the puck, and it dribbled across the line.
This was a dominant performance by the Ice Fernz. The Kiwis outshot Romania 50-23 and never looked troubled. The Ice Fernz defence was notable for the absence of any clear breakaways by the Romanians.
The New Zealand MVP award went to Hannah Shields for her outstanding performance and tally of points. “This was our best game yet. The girls played 60 minutes of structured hockey and never let up” said Ice Fernz Head Coach Rachel Park. Based on todays results, should Iceland beat Chinese Taipei on Sunday, and the top three team remain tied on points, the gold medal winner will be decided by the goal differential between the tied teams, which favours Chinese Taipei.
The Ice Fernz play their final game against Team Croatia at 10pm NZ Time on Sunday.