8 April 2019
China’s women have made a fine start to their World Championship Division IB campaign, beginning with victories in their opening two games at Beijing’s Shougang Arena.
The girls started out with a 3-0 success over Latvia and followed it up with a hugely impressive 5-2 victory over South Korea – a team stacked with players who took part in last year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
Kunlun Red Star forward Xin Fang was one of the stars of that game, collecting two goals. She claimed an equalizer in the eighth minute after Eunji Lee gave Korea an early lead and popped up again early in the third to make the score 3-1. Clubmate Minghui Kong had an assist on Fang’s first goal and scored one of her own to complete the scoring, while defenseman Zhixin Liu got China’s go-ahead goal midway through the second period.
China’s success against Korea followed an opening day victory over Latvia, the top seed going into the tournament. This was a one-sided game, with China outshooting the visitor 61-9 to win thanks to a pair of goals from Shuang Lu of Beijing Ice Hockey and another contribution from Fang. Red Star goalie Yuqing Wang collected a shut-out to help secure a successful start.
Encouraging results have been matched by encouraging signs off the ice. Both games attracted more than 1,500 fans – impressive numbers for women’s hockey at this level, especially for fixtures scheduled during the working day. As the tournament progresses, there’s room for those crowds to grow and if China remains in contention for a medal in this six-team group it would be great to see a full house getting behind the girls.
The teams are back in action on Tuesday, with China facing the Netherlands in the afternoon. Both teams are unbeaten thus far – and both have a 5-2 win over Korea to their names – but the host nation goes into the match-up on top of the group due to a superior goal differential.
After match-up with the Dutch, China will play Poland on Wednesday before finishing the program with a game against Kazakhstan on Friday evening.