In an international hockey world that seldom sees new nations emerge to contend for the International Hockey Lineal Championship, a wild series of events on the final day of group play at the 2022 Women’s World Championship means that Hungary will contend for the IHLC, making the Magyars the first women’s team in over a decade to contend for the IHLC.
Hungary will become the first new contender since Slovakia, who played for their first IHLC at the 2010 Winter Olympics, being shellacked 18-0 to hosts Canada on 13 February in Vancouver; they have since had one more attempt at the title, a 5-0 loss to the United States at the 2011 Women’s World Championships. Hungary will become the first team to make their IHLC debut at the Women’s World Championship since Kazakhstan in 2005, and they become the tenth European nation to contend for the IHLC since the first World Women’s Tournament in 1987.
Hungary booked their spot in the World Championship quarterfinals thanks to Germany’s shocking win to relegate hosts Denmark, clinching the eighth and final spot in the elimination round. They will face an uphill battle against the United States, who today also won their 37th IHLC thanks to a 5-2 victory over defending Olympic and World Champions Canada to win Group A with a perfect 4-0 record. While Hungary is unlikely to upset the Americans, they can hope for similar success that brought their male counterparts their only IHLC title in history, when they upset Sweden in overtime on 29 March 2007.
This marks an epic year for Hungarian women’s hockey over the past two decades, starting in Division III in 2000 and making it to the Top Division in 2019, not only avoiding relegation to Division IA but making the quarterfinals in just their second year in the Top Division. This marks a larger shift in new women’s hockey contenders, with the likes of Sweden returning to prior form, while the likes of Japan, Czechia and now Hungary are emerging threats to the standard North American women’s hockey order.
While this historic meeting in Denmark will be the first such IHLC meeting for Hungary, the trajectory that the team is on almost certainly means that this will not be their last!