Photo credit: Colin Lawson, courtesy of IceHockeyMedia Photography)
Croatia return for another go at Division 2A after last year where they met their pre-tournament expectation of staying up at this level after winning gold at the Division 2B championships in 2014.
No fewer than 13 of the players for the Croats play for the same side Gric Zagreb, which does show the lack of depth in a country with just 58 female players registered. Croatia have met GB twice before in their history, losing on both occasions, 8-4 in 2008 and 8-1 last year in Dumfries.
Croatia will once again focus on staying up. With Slovenia being promoted from Division 2B, they’ll know they will have to defeat their neighbours to the north in their own country in order to stay up this time around.
Leading the Croatian side is captain Diana Kruselj-Posavec, who is undoubtedly Croatia’s greatest ever female hockey player, even in the short time of the side’s existence since it started to take part in IIHF competitions in 2007. Tall, powerful, great skating and great shot, she’s someone that all sides will do well to watch out for.
One of Croatia’s strengths however is the amount of experience that they have, especially on the blueline. Ela Filipec was the second top scorer for Croatia from defence, although she does also lead the team all-time in Penalty Minutes. Nadia Matic has played in the top German league for the past 6/7 seasons, so also bring a lot of experience to the table.
In terms of new players, at just 16 years of age, Sara Muranic has been given a start as a forward, so it’ll be interesting to see what ice time she gets. Overall, it looks like it’s going to a tough tournament for the Croatians, and the derby game against Slovenia looks absolutely critical indeed.