In one of the most shocking developments in recent World Championship history, it is Denmark, in front of a home crowd in Frederikshavn, hosting their first ever Championship tournament, who was relegated on home ice, thanks to a literal last-second goal by Germany, sending them to Division IA in 2023, with France set to take their place.
Needing just to make it to overtime to bypass Hungary for the third and final qualification spot in Group B, and send Germany to Division IA, Denmark held a 2-1 lead over Germany with five minutes remaining in regulation. The Germans, who gained just a single point in tournament play in a shootout loss, managed to tie things at 2 apiece with 4:11 remaining in regulation, thanks to a Laura Kluge, which would have put them or Hungary at risk of relegation. But with goaltender Sandra Abstreiter pulled for the extra attacker, it was a shot from the high slot through traffic by Tanja Eisenschmid that beat Danish goaltender Cassandra Repstock-Romme with just one second remaining on the clock.
After a video review to ensure the puck crossed before time expired, it was confirmed – Germany would avoid relegation, Hungary would move to the quarterfinals, and Denmark would return to Division IA for the first time since 2019. Taking their place at next year’s tournament in Canada will be France, who returns to the Top Division for the first time since 2019, topping out Division IA this past April on home ice in Angers; they have yet to stay in the Top Division for consecutive years, but will look to the success of teams like Hungary to surprise and stay on top into 2024.
Denmark will face Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia and hosts China in Shenzhen this coming April at the Division IA tournament, fighting for a place in the Top Division in 2024, while Germany will remain in Group B at next year’s tournament. Whether the same teams join them next year, with the likes of Hungary, Sweden and Czechia looking to play spoiler, will be worked out by this time next week!
Photo Credit: 2022 Women’s World Championship – IIHF – HHOF – IOC