By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com
Ni Lin (Rachel Llanes) scored the go-ahead goal with only 50.9 seconds left in regulation to give China a stunning but well-deserved 3-1 win over Denmark at Wukesong Sports Centre this afternoon. The goal came after Denmark captain Josefine Jakobsen fell along the boards in her end. Lin claimed the puck and beat goalie Cassandra Repstock-Romme with a little deke.
Qiqi Lin (Leah Lum) added an empty netter, her second goal of the game, to close out the scoring.
“It’s so hard to say how I feel, because we’ve had to wait such a long time,” said captain Baiwei Yu. “Our last win was in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver [she played]. I also feel so lucky that I’ve stayed on this team long enough to win again. We kept fighting together, and didn’t give up until the last minute, last second. We supported each other, trusted each other, and we did it!”
“Right now there’s no joy, no happiness,” said a disconsolate Repstock-Romme. “The only thing I can think about right now is disappointment. I tried to make every effort for the team because this is the best team ever in Denmark and we want to be together as a unit. I try to be there for them because they’re there for me, blocking shots and taking hits. I’m glad I could be there in some tough situations, but I don’t feel very good about the last goal, to be honest. That just overshadows everything else. I shouldn’t let in a goal with 50 seconds left.”
It was Denmark’s first ever Olympic game and China’s first win this Olympics on home ice after a 3-1 loss to Czechia yesterday.
No doubt this was a game both teams circled on their calendars as the one they most likely had a chance to win in the round robin of Group B, which also includes Japan, Czechia, and Sweden.
Denmark is right back at it with a game tomorrow afternoon against Japan, while China has two days off before playing that same Japanese team on Sunday afternoon.
China coach Brian Idalski dressed only 19 skaters and went with three lines virtually all night. He had defender Yuting Wang (Jessica Wong) out for more nearly half the game (28:10).
China started the game with energy and created several decent scoring chances early. Their aggressive play also earned them a power play, but they were unable to convert. The Danes withstood that early pressure and opened the scoring at 8:06.
Nicoline Jensen took the puck out of the corner and fired a shot on goal, but although goalie Jiaying Zhou (Kim Newell) made the save with her hugely popular, dragon-themed pads, she couldn’t control the rebound. Malene Frandsen was right there to bang home the loose puck, thereby putting her name in the history books as the first Dane, male or female, to score an Olympic goal.
“After the first shot, I became more relaxed and was able to focus more on the next one,” Zhou offered. “After that 1-0 goal, I just put the score out of my head and focused on the game and continued.”
The Chinese were not daunted, however, and played the Danes stride for stride, scoring chance for scoring chance. The game had nice flow up and down the ice, and it became clear pretty quickly that this Chinese team had some skill and ability in the offensive zone.
Indeed, the Chinese dominated the second period and were unlucky to score only one goal. Actually, it wasn’t a lack of luck so much as it was the sensational play of 20-year-old goalie Repstock-Romme. She stopped Qiqi Lin (Leah Lum) on a rebound from in close, and again moments later on another chance in close. She then made a great shoulder save off a sure goal from Lin, and she was solid when China went to the power play.
At the other end, Zhou made a fantastic save off Jakobsen to keep it a 1-0 game, but late in the period the Chinese were finally rewarded for their fine play. It all started with an offensive zone faceoff win by Le Mi (Hannah Miller), and a point shot from 33-year-old captain Baiwei Yu. Her shot was deftly tipped in front by Lin at 16:43, making it a 1-1 game.
Soon after, Mengying Zhang took a stretch pass and walked in alone, only to be denied by Repstock-Romme. The score was 1-1 after 40 minutes, but the Chinese had dominated puck possession and had outshot the Danes by an impressive 27-12 margin.
Both teams had chances in the third. Persson made a couple of fine rushes but couldn’t finish around Zhou’s goal, and Repstock-Romme’s solid play stymied two or three good China chances as well. But just when it looked like the game was headed to overtime, Jakobsen fell, Lin pounced, and history was made.
NOTES: Denmark’s Silke Glud was injured in the second period and didn’t return….There were six minor penalties called, three for an illegal hit…China has been short-handed six ties through two games but has yet to give up a power-play goal against.