Hungary finishes first
by Chris JUREWICZ|23 JAN 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
Gangneung Hockey Centre, GANGWON, South Korea – Team Hungary has clinched first place and will be the top seed for the playoff round of the women’s 3-on-3 ice hockey tournament at the Youth Olympic Games.

The tournament is being contested by athletes 16 years of age and younger, with the players being from the 2008 and 2009 birth years.

Hungary beat Italy 11-1 and defeated Korea 16-0 on the final day of preliminary round games of the event. The wins gave Hungary 1 perfect 7-0 record, in which the team scored 130 goals and gave up five.

The top four of eight teams qualified for the semifinal round, with Hungary followed by China (6-1), host Korea (4-2) and Italy (4-2). Türkiye just missed out on the medal round at 3-4, with the bottom three teams being Australia (2-5), Mexico (1-6) and the Netherlands (0-7).

Italy needed a win over the Netherlands on the final day to secure a semifinal berth and came out flying. Italy scored five goals in the first – including a pair by Olivia de Bortoli – and then blew the game wide open with 12 goals in the second, before hitting double digits again in the third with 10 goals. The final score was 27-0.

The goal of the game came off the stick of Italian captain Maddalena Bedont, who performed an ‘around-the-world’ skate – starting in her end and then skating down the wall, around the Netherlands’ net and then out front of its goal – before snapping a shot that hit the top corner.

China played two solid games to conclude its preliminary round, beating Mexico 20-1 and getting by Australia 11-3.

The semifinal matchups are set on the women’s side, with Hungary facing Italy and China taking on Korea. The winners will play for the gold medal, while the losers will meet for bronze.

Latvia leads men’s side with 7-0 mark

The final day of men’s preliminary-round action has also concludes, with Latvia clinching the top seed following wins over Denmark (11-6) and Poland (8-3).

The game of the day was Austria versus Poland, with the latter edging the Austrians 3-2. The Poles narrowly missed out on a spot in the semifinal round, finishing with a 4-3 record – identical to Kazakhstan.

It is Kazakhstan that finished fourth on the men’s side due to it defeating Poland 18-8 earlier in the tournament.
The semifinal games on the men’s side will see Latvia take on Kazakhstan and Austria face Denmark, in a battle of teams that finished with 5-2 records.

Rounding out the standings were Poland in fifth (4-3), Great Britain (2-5), Chinese Taipei (1-6) and Spain (0-7).

One of the more memorable scenes of this tournament came on the final day, when Taipei concluded its tournament by getting its first win, defeating Spain 5-4. Chinese Taipei trailed 2-1 after the first, led 3-2 after two but needed a goal in the final few minutes to break a 4-4 tie.

The aforementioned game-winner was a thing of beauty, with Taipei captain Wu Kai-Zhen sending a perfect pass to Wu Yu-Chen, who got off a great one-timer on his off wing to score and give his team the win. The Taipei players lined up on the ice for a celebratory photo, marking a magical time of these Youth Olympic Games.