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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: Tournament season and the return of Croatia

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Plus, Victoria Bach just keeps going, Team USA has added more players and Leif Boork has an expiration date.

Nikola Balasova of Slovakia and Tereza Vanisova (R) of Czech Republic battles for the puck in the match between Slovakia and Czech Republic during day four of the Ice Hockey Women's 5 Nations Tournament at the Shin Yokohama Skate Center on November 10, 20
The Czech Republic were fortunate to stay in the Top division for this season. Slovakia (in blue) is currently in Division IA.
Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Story of the week

Ice hockey player makes the cut for US tournament | News24

One of the best things about doing Women’s Hockey Wednesday is learning how many countries in the world have women’s hockey teams. There probably aren’t a lot of North Americans who would think of South Africa as a place for hockey, but they have 143 women’s hockey players registered with the IIHF.

The “US tournament” erroneously referenced in the title is the first of the Worlds tournaments for this season. There are three divisions of women’s hockey at the international level, and currently 38 teams ranked. The Top division gets the most attention, with Canada and the US perennially leading the pack.

Divisions I and II are each split into two groups of six teams - Group A and Group B. Each group has its own World Championship tournament, and the winner of each tournament will advance to the next group up for the 2018-19 season. Normally the last place team is relegated to the group below. However, in order to expand the Top level from eight to 10 teams at the 2019 Worlds without reducing the number of teams in each of the lower groups, no team was relegated last season (to the great relief of the Czechs, who will stay in the Top division) and none will be relegated this season.

Below Division II Group B is the “Qualification” tournament. This allows the lowest ranked (and sometimes new, unranked) national teams to try to start climbing the long ladder up to the Top division. It also allows a team relegated out of Division IIB to try coming back. If this had been a normal season Romania, last place at the 2017 Division IIB Worlds, would have been the team trying again. This year’s qualification tournament starts on Monday in Sofia, Bulgaria. As well as host team Bulgaria, it features Belgium, Hong Kong, South Africa and the return of Croatia.

After coming last in the 2016 Division IIA Worlds and being relegated to Division IIB, the Croatian hockey federation pulled their women’s team from competition. There are currently only 68 women’s hockey players in Croatia who are registered with the IIHF, and a lack of support from their home federation doesn’t help. Sitting out the 2017 season sent them down eight spots in the world ranking to 33. It’s nice to see them back on the world stage, and it will be interesting to see whether they’ll make it back into Division II immediately, or if Belgium, last year’s second place team, will finally manage to move up.

You can follow along with live scores and stats at the IIHF website.

Update:

Last week, we talked a bit about Victoria Bach, a Boston University senior who scored five goals in two games weekend before last. Well, Bach apparently decided that she had fun scoring at will, and did the exact same thing last weekend at D1 in DC. She hung a hat trick on Minnesota State University, and scored both of BU’s goals in their 4-2 loss to Wisconsin (an important note—Wisconsin is the best team in the country, so it’s not as if she’s been beating up on low-ranked teams during this streak).

Since this tweet was posted, she tacked on two goals (and three assists!) in BU’s game against Brown University last night, bringing her to twelve goals in the last five games. She is very good at hockey, and we’ll continue to keep an eye on her over the course of her senior season.

International hockey

USA Hockey Adds Haley Skarupa and Sidney Morin to Centralization Roster - The Ice Garden
Team USA increases roster to 26 players with 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang looming

Rested tested focused - Olympic - International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF
Time in Tampa motivates Team USA

Sarah Davis experiences gamut of emotions since getting cut from Team Canada - The Telegram
But hockey player on the road to emotional healing

Ylva Martinsen Named Team Sweden Head Coach - The Ice Garden
Cue the Hallelujah Chorus, the Leif Boork era of Team Sweden is ending.

Ylva Martinsen ny huvudcoach för Damkronorna - Svenska Ishockeyförbundet
Från och med 2018-04-01 tar Ylva Martinsen (före detta Lindberg) över som huvudcoach för Damkronorna.

Daniela Diaz calls up 23 players for the Four Nations Tournament in Czechia - swisshockeynews.ch
Daniela Diaz, head coach of the women's national team, has selected her team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament in Czechia (Dec 14-16).

History

CWHL

Shenzhen trip ends in a close loss for Markham Thunder 1-0 - Pension Plan Puppets
Toronto Furies bring the first shootout to Shenzhen and come away with one point.

Inferno defeat Boston on home ice 5-2 - The Official Website of the Calgary Inferno | CWHL
League sponsor, ADT dropped the puck for the Inferno’s first game back on home ice in two weeks.

Calgary completes weekend sweep of the Boston Blades at home
After Saturday’s back and forth game that saw the Inferno beat the Blades 5-2, the Inferno were back in action Sunday morning, looking for back to back victories against Boston in the weekend series.

Ann-Sophie Bettez named Les Canadiennes captain for 2017-18 season - Eyes On The Prize
With Marie-Philip Poulin with Team Canada, Bettez takes over the captaincy

The More You Inferknow: Delayne Brian – Flamesnation
Our next profile in this Inferno series is goaltender Delayne Brian, a graduate of the Notre Dame Hounds, Wayne State University, and Robert Morris University.

NWHL

A Look at Canadian talent in the NWHL - The Ice Garden
In a league rich with American talent, 15 percent of the NWHL’s athletes hail from Canada.

Taylor Accursi Speeds Her Way to NWHL Success
Buffalo Beauts forward Taylor Accursi is finding early success in her first season playing professional hockey in the NWHL.

Buffalo Beauts' Sarah Shureb Hits You With Her Best Shot
One-third of "The Adrian Line", the vision that Beauts forward Sarah Shureb has on the ice is eclipsed only by her sizable heart and affinity for her team.

NCAA

Polls: USCHO | USA Today | The Ice Garden

No Streaming for D1 in DC tournament is Inexcusable - The Ice Garden
Someone dropped the ball on a huge opportunity for exposure

Alina Müller will leave the ZSC Lions Women's team at the end of the season - swisshockeynews.ch
After only one season with the ZSC Lions, the 19-year-old forward will join the Northeastern University team in Boston, USA, next season.

Howard's legacy | The Sentry
Robert Morris women’s hockey has been in the national spotlight in recent years. The newfound success can be placed on one player’s shoulders.

GOAL BY GOAL: BC Women’s Hockey Stomps Harvard 8-1 - BC Interruption
This game was not close

Washington welcomes women’s NCAA hockey - The Ice Garden
The D1 in DC tournament brought thrilling college hockey games to a new audience.

Northeastern Huskies - Huskies stun No. 1 Wisconsin, 3-2, at D1 in DC
Freshman goaltender Aerin Frankel stopped 39 shots as the Northeastern women's hockey team (8-7-2) handed No. 1 Wisconsin (16-1-0) its first loss of the season with a 3-2 upset on Friday afternoon at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

The Saint Anselm Problem Explained - SB Nation College Hockey
There are 36 women’s hockey programs competing at the NCAA Division I level. As of today, the number one ranked team in the RPI has a strength of schedule of......38th.

2017 Nutmeg Classic In Detail Multimedia Edition – DFP Sports
Annie's favorite NCAA tournament, the Nutmeg Classic, took place this weekend.

U Sports

Top 10 Tuesday — U SPORTS
Montréal sneaks back into the top 10, McGill falls out.

Mustangs triumph with 2-1 victory over Lancers
Goaltenders Tareya Webster and Molly Jenkins kept the score close throughout the game, making 30 and 35 saves respectively, but a second period goal from Rachel Armstrong allowed the Mustangs to secure a 2-1 victory against the Lancers on Friday night at South Windsor Arena.

X-Women shutout visiting Huskies - St. Francis Xavier University Athletics
The U SPORTS No. 5 ranked StFX X-Women topped the visiting No. 3 ranked Saint Mary's Huskies 3-0 Wednesday evening at the Charles V. Keating Centre in a battle of the top two teams in the AUS.

Overtime duel: Women's hockey split weekend against defending national champions
“This has been our overall best full game this year,” said Thomas after the game. “Especially against the number one team in the country, great competitors and a great team like Alberta.”

European league hockey

SDHL (Sweden) Linköping smashes SDHL attendance record - The Ice Garden
Over 5,000 fans came to see the league’s top team.

WHL (Russia) Women’s Hockey Update: November 27th, 2017 | CONWAY'S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
It was an eventful week in Russian women's hockey... at least it was eventful on the ice. As far as off-ice matters are concerned, and in particular the Oswald Commission hearing last Wednesday (see last week's update), well, we are still in some suspense over that.