As a result of their 3-0 win over Denmark, improving them to 4-0 at the Division I Group A tournament in Rouen, France, the Czech women’s team has secured the eighth and final spot at the 2016 Women’s World Championship next spring in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, taking the spot from the German squad that was relegated at this year’s Championship in Malmö, Sweden.
Although they still have one final game against Norway on Saturday, the Czechs currently sit six points ahead of Austria, who, despite having a game in-hand, could only tie the Czech’s point total (assuming they lose to Norway), and even then the Czechs win the tiebreaker on the backs of their 4-1 win head-to-head. This will mark just the second Championship appearance for the Czechs, who made their debut in 2013, finishing 1-2 (including a stunning win over Sweden) before being relegated by the Damkronorna. The Czechs have yet to compete for an IHLC, but may not get the chance as they will play in Group B in Kamloops.
As for the Germans, the 2015 tournament marked a disappointing finish, where many expected Japan to be the team to be relegated. The Träger der Adler finished 0-3 at the 2015 Worlds, being outscored 11-2 in the Group Round, before losing consecutive overtime defeats to the upstart Japanese squad to be relegated. They will now play in the Division I Group A tournament next year, competing against Norway, Denmark, France, Austria and newly-promoted Slovakia for the chance at promotion for the 2017 Worlds in the United States.
With the 2016 tournament also serving as the final ranking for Olympic qualification at the 2018 Olympics, the next year in international women’s hockey will be paramount for positioning, so expect some fierce competition as these squads play towards a berth in Pyeongchang in three years’ time!