SPITTAL AN DER DRAU, Austria – Austria won the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Qualification on home ice in a final against Italy and will play in next season’s Division I event.
The Austrians were relegated last year with a 0-5 record and hosted the Division I Qualification, which due to the high interest got a new format with eight teams split into two groups that were played in Spittal an der Drau and Radenthein.
Austria and Italy were the group winners and faced off for first place and promotion. Austria defeated Romania (12-0), China (3-1) and Kazakhstan (5-0) in Group A while Italy beat Great Britain (3-1), Australia (8-0) and Poland (4-2) in Group B.
The final played in front of 736 fans in Spittal an der Drau was a narrow affair. Despite being outshot 38-9, it was Italy which got the lead twice with goals from Marta Boccomino and Anita Muraro but the Austrians tied it twice with markers by Julia Schneeberger and captain Sophie Engelhart. At 7:46 of the third period Laura Kraus gained the lead for Austria on a power play and the 3-2 score stayed until the final buzzer.
Kazakhstan beat Great Britain 2-0 for third place in a clash between the two second-placed teams in the group stage. China beat Poland 5-2 to earn fifth place and Australia got its first win defeating Romania 7-6 in shootout to finish in seventh place.
Kazakhstan had the scoring leader with Malika Aldabergenova, who had 12 points (5+7), while her teammate Anastasia Petsevich and Italy’s Anita Muraro were the top goal scorers with seven markers. China’s Siye He was named best goaltender, Italy’s Nadia Mattivi best defenceman and Austria’s Theresa Schafzahl best forward. Click here for scores and stats.