Recap: Day 2 – 2023 Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Qualification Round 2, Group L
by Andrew PODNIEKS|16 DEC 2023
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
Spain and Netherlands both won their games again, setting up a showdown on Sunday afternoon for first place in Group L and a berth in the third round of qualification for Milano 2026.

Netherlands 23-Thailand 1

The Dutch may have had a bit of a slow start yesterday against Georgia, but they were in attack mode today for 60 minutes, hammering Thailand 23-1 thanks to nine points from captain Danny Stempher (two goals, seven assists).
Marvin Timmer, the youngest player on the team at 20, and Jonne de Bonth both had hat tricks for the winners, and 13 players had at least one goal. Shots favoured Netherlands 76-7, and Thai coach Pattaranut Yannakornthanapun used both goalies during the barrage. Starter Benjamin Kleineschay played the majority of the game, allowing 19 goals, but backup Pattarapol Ungkulpattanasuk played the last 7:12 of the game, allowing the final four.
The Dutch led 2-0 within five minutes of the opening faceoff and added a third goal, short-handed, by Reno de Hondt midway through. The Thais made it a 3-1 game on that same power play when Papan Thanakroekkiat beat Martijn Oosterwijk with a shot, but 3-1 was as close as they would get.
Three more Dutch goals before the first intermission put the game out of reach, and they added seven more in the second and ten in the third. Four of Stempher’s assists came in the opening period, and he now leads the tournament in scoring with 12 points in just two games. In fact, the top eight scorers are all Dutch, not surprising given they have scored 31 goals.

Spain 5-Georgia 1

The Spanish found out firsthand just what a headache the Georgians had been to Netherlands yesterday when they came face to face with Revaz Tsomaia’s well-trained roster of older players. Yes, Spain won, but again it wasn’t easy, and at no time did it look like the game was going to get out of hand with an easy Spanish victory.
Indeed, the only goal of the opening period came late, on a goal from 20-year-old Adrian Torralba, but Spain managed to create a little breathing room in the second thanks to two power-play goals and another late marker to make it a 4-1 game.
Jaime de Bonilla made it 2-0 with the extra skater early in the middle frame when his quick shot in the slot fooled Ivan Starostin, making his first start in goal for Georgia. Despite being 27 years of age, he is the youngest player on a team with an average age of 30. The Spanish opened a two-goal lead five minutes later, this time a Bruno Baldris wrister from the point going all the way.
But as was the case yesterday, Georgia played with that never-say-die attitude and got one back two minutes later. Vitali Dziov came out of the corner and feathered a quick pass to Ivan Marov, who got his stick behind coverage and redirected the puck beyond the reach of Raul Barbo to make it a 3-1 game.
Only a late goal from Gaston Gonzalez off a lovely pass from captain Alejandro Carbonell gave the Spanish that three-goal cushion again through 40 minutes of play. The Spanish added to their tally late in the third off a short-handed breakaway goal from Dorion Donath, his third of the tournament. Georgia gets full marks for keeping the game close, but Spain, 2-0 in the tournament, now will play Netherlands, also 2-0 for group glory tomorrow.


The round robin concludes on Sunday with the most important game of the group. Spain and Netherlands play first, the winner advancing to round 3, after which the Georgians and Thais play in what amounts to a placement match given that neither team has a chance to advance.