Kong double maintains winning streak

21 August 2023

Norway Women 3 China Women 5

China’s women found their scoring touch in the second period of this game, just in time to record an impressive victory over Norway and maintain a perfect start to Division IA. Kong Minghui, the scorer of the only goal against Slovakia, added two more to her tally in this tournament, including the game-winner midway through the third period.

As in Sunday’s 1-0 verdict over Slovakia, the Lady Dragons had plenty of possession and once again fired in more than 40 shots on goal. For a time, though, it looked as if the problems that dogged our play in the tournament opener would resurface: despite regularly testing Linnea Olsson in the Norwegian net, China could not score in the first 30 minutes of the game.

Unlike Slovakia, though, Norway was able to muster some firepower at the other end. Tiya Chen allowed her first goal of the tournament on 8:26 when Emma Bergesen’s effort from the top of the circle went over her glove. Early in the second, it was 2-0 when Millie Sirum pounced on a feed from behind the net.

The scoreline hardly did justice to the Dragons’ efforts. Ni Lin (Rachel Llanes) had a good chance in the first period, and China had the only two power play of the opening stanza. Then, early in the second, Llanes and Kang Mulan (Kassy Betinol) force Olsson into a couple of spectacular, instinctive stops before the second Norwegian goal. It was starting to look as though missed chances would prove costly.

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However, as mentioned yesterday, when teams are getting pucks to the net it’s likely that rewards will come. In the latter half of today’s game, that’s exactly what happened. A swift double salvo midway through the game turned everything around. Betinol got the first, needing just six seconds to convert another power play. Then, 68 seconds later, Kong had her second of the tournament with another tip in front of the net. This time she redirected Hu Baozhen (Maddie Woo)’s shot past Olsson. With the game tied, the 7,000-strong crowd pumped up the volume, giving our girls an extra lift. With a little over three minutes to play, Fang Xin put China up for the first time. ‘Turbo’ relied on persistence more than pace this time, beating Olsson at the second attempt.

It still wasn’t plain sailing. Early in the third, the ever-lively Sirum led a breakaway and Emilie Kruse finished the play to tie the scores. But Kong’s presence in front of the net – a challenge for both opponents so far in Shenzhen – proved decisive. She got her second of the game, and third of the World Championship when she put away a rebound from Woo’s initial shot. With 11 minutes on the clock, there was still work to do. However, Scott Spencer’s team kept its composure and continued to have the better of the play. An empty netter from Zhang Xifang (Anna Segedi) completed the job and kept China firmly in the promotion race.

Monday’s other games saw Austria grab a second win in as many games. Selma Luggin made it back-to-back shut-outs and Anna Meixner potted the only goal against Denmark. The Netherlands then surprised Slovakia 3-0 in the afternoon game.

Tuesday is a rest day. The action resumes Wednesday, with China looking to reprise its 2022 Olympic victory over Denmark and continue its perfect start to the tournament.

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