The Netherlands were expected to win their first two games of the Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualifying Group H in Bytom, Poland and they’ve done just that, following up yesterday’s win over a troublesome Mexican team with a much more convincing 23-0 rout of Turkey.
“Before the game, we told the girls that they have to play their own game, move the puck around and try to score as many goals as we can,” said Dutch head coach Joep Franke.
“We always have difficulty with the first game of a tournament, just with everybody getting to know each other again,” Franke continued. “Then we get into the flow and come together as a team, and this was the result.”
After a determinded and grueling defensive effort to limit Poland to 12 goals yesterday, the Turks tried to get back at it today but were simply overwhelmed.
“The Netherlands team plays two groups higher than us in the World Championship, so this was a very hard game for us,” said Turkish coach Yucel Citak. “But I’m proud of my players because they’re brave and they play very hard. We can see that we’ve got a lot to improve on, and that is what we hope to do in future years.”
After starting slowly yesterday, the Dutch machine was firing all cylinders right from the opening faceoff in this one, and opened the scoring at 1:15 when Julie Zwarthoed centred from behind the net to Zoe Barbier in front, who one-timed it in. That was the first of eight goals on 24 shots that the Dutch fired on beleagured neminder Azra Sert, who was often at the shooters’ mercy despite attempts by her overmatched teammates to help.
The Netherlands went on to outshoot Turkey 78-2 in the game.
“It’s obviously difficult to stay focused in a game like this but I think we handled it pretty well," said Zwarthoed, who had four goals and four assists today, and now leads the tournament with 11 points overall. “We keep reminding each other to keep our level up and it’s been working. We were a little bit stiff at the start yesterday, but then we got moving and we saw that today and we have to keep it going because it's going to get harder.”
The eighth goal came on the power play courtesy Bieke van Nes, which was already her third of the game. The Dutch captain finished the game with six goals and three assists, and trails teammate Zwarthoed with 10 points combined.
Turkey got a power play of their own with 1:08 to go in the first period, but unfortunately, the last 52 seconds of that were cancelled out by a delay-of-game bench minor penalty when the team returned from the intermission too late.
Hilde Huisman scored while the teams were 4-on-4, then Zwarthoed scored on the Dutch power play, which was the start of a six-goal second period.
Batul Taygar got a shot on goal for Turkey in the second period and then eight minutes into the third, Elif Atali got a breakaway but, with a Dutch defender closing in, she rushed her shot and missed the net. Ayse Kocak put the second Turkish shot on target in the third period.
“Yesterday we played a very hard game and we are tired today, but this is a good experience for us,” said Taygar. “This is very good preparation for the World Championship. We’ve never played a teams of this level before and I hope we can reach a higher level and face them more often in the future.”
The Netherlands added nine more goals in the third period, making the final score 23-0.
After playing on back to back days, both teams now get a day off. The Dutch will face Poland with a chance to advance on the line, while Turkey faces Mexico in the group's last game on Sunday.
“Mexico will be a hard game too, but we’ll play hard again and see what happens,” said Citak.
“Tonight we’re going to just rest and tomorrow we’ve got a meeting and talk about playing Poland, then we’ll go on the ice,” said Franke. “We’ve played them a bunch of times in the past and we know how we have to play.”