Video by Puck Yeah / Report by Paul Harrison
With yesterday’s 3-0 defeat against Chinese Taipei behind them, the New Zealand Ice Fernz faced a formidable challenge against Iceland in their second game of the 2019 IIHF Div2B Women’s World Championship.
The Icelanders arrived at the Olympic Ice Arena buoyed by their win over Romania in a 9-5 goal frenzy last night.
It is said a game of hockey has a start, a middle and an end. The first 20 minutes of play encapsulated all three. Having won the first faceoff, Iceland showed patience and control. They moved the puck deftly up the ice, finding an unmarked Kolbrun Gardarsdottir who put Iceland ahead with a mere 33 seconds on the clock.
What followed was an intense 19 minutes of hockey. In a hard, stoic contest, possession and control changed hands many times, with both team tussling to control the puck while Iceland pulled ahead in the penalty count.
It took the Ice Fernz 1:45 into their third powerplay for Rebecca Lilly to
settle the puck, move it up the right-wing to Hannah Shields, who connected with Jasmine Horner-Pascoe and finally find the back of the Iceland net.
The second period saw the same level of intensity, with the New Zealand team tiring and struggling to complete plays. The Ice Fernz shot blocking improved noticeable, but too many pucks were left for starting goalie Grace Harrison to clean up, and New Zealand was woefully outshot 16-2.
The Ice Fernz were lucky to go to the break still tied 1-all. Iceland remained dominant in the third period but were again hamstrung by a series of penalties, reducing their ability to put shots on the New Zealand goal.
The Ice Fernz struggled to control possession in the neutral zone and a number of unforced errors had Harrison scrambling to tidy up the loose puck.
With just over 2 minutes to run, Iceland were called for an illegal body check, giving the Ice Fernz a chance to overturn the flow of the game. The duty fell to Horner-Pascoe, who skated the puck up the right-wing, beat the opposition defence and somehow found the back of the net.
From the restart, Iceland pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, and continued to pepper the New Zealand goal. The Ice Fernz defence remained resolute, continually blocking shots and resorting to trench warfare at the ground level.
At the final faceoff, Hannah Shields again showed her dominance, winning the puck and allowing New Zealand to maintain control of the puck while the clock ran down.
The New Zealand bench erupted with sheer joy as the clock struck zero, thrilled with a win against the odds and flow of play. The official IIHF statistics report Iceland outshot 31-25, a figure which seemed to significantly under-represent the volume of shots Iceland fired on New Zealand’s net.
Unsurprisingly the NZ game MVP award went to netminder Grace Harrison.