Pinoké survive final day scare to take gold in Skierniewice

Pinoké and Šiauliai Ginstrektė-Akademija earned the Netherlands and Lithuania, respectively, promotion from the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy in Skierniewice, Poland.

They were both able to celebrate but in very different fashion as the Dutch side ultimately took gold despite a final game defeat which meant they had to wait to see if top spot was theirs.

Starting the day in Pool D, Polish hosts KS Hokej Start Brzeziny went into their final game knowing a three-goal win would give them promotion, a huge task against Pinoké who had a 100% record up to this point.

Start began brilliantly, building a 2-0 lead via Magdalena Pabiniak and Paula Slawinska at half-time and they had their three-goal advantage in Q3 via Dziana Varanovich’s corner.

But Pinoké also needed a losing bonus point to confirm Dutch promotion – and keep alive their title hopes – and applied lots of late pressure.

Amber Ezechiels put them on the board with the last act of the third quarter and Sophie Thoolon’s 16th goal of the tournament made them more secure.

Varanovich netted her 10th goal of the event for 4-2 but they could not find a crucial fifth goal whereas the Dutch side nicked a lat minute goal from Elin van Erk.

It was enough to keep Pinoké ahead of the Poles on goal difference and assured of top tier status for the Netherlands in 2025.

For Start, their hope was HK Zelina could deny Šiauliai Ginstrektė-Akademija a two-goal win to see them remain in the promotion spots.

But such hopes were dashed by the Lithuanian side for whom Dovilė Kuklienė and Samanta Jakoleva were in immaculate form.

Jakoleva scored twice in the first quarter for a 2-0 advantage which they maintained as their Croatian opponents missed a stroke. She also added two more in Q2 for a 4-0 half-time lead.

Kuklienė took over with a hat trick in Q2 and she added two more – making it five individual goals in eight minutes of play – early in the final quarter to bring her level in the top scorer chart with Thoolen on 16.

It meant a 9-0 win, enough for second place and promotion but not quite enough for gold with Pinoké ending six goals further ahead.

In Pool C, KPH Rača finished on a high with a 5-2 victory over Penarth. First half goals were shared by Dominika Chebenova, Martina Jelinkova and Barbora Pucherova to build a 3-0 lead.

The Welsh side fought back with Charlotte Bates and Kate Tyler bringing back the gap to the minimum but final quarter goals from Sarlota Medvikova and Chebenova saw the Slovakian side pull clear.

It put them briefly into fifth place overall but a first 0-0 draw from this month of indoor competition between HC Wiener Neudorf and Cambrai meant the Austrian side jumped above Rača.

With next season’s European indoor club competitions realigned to take in eight teams each, the results this week mean the Austrian, Slovakian, French and Welsh representatives will play in the Club Challenge I.

Women’s EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy (Skierniewice, Poland)

1. Pinoké (Netherlands)

2. Šiauliai Ginstrektė-Akademija (Lithuania)

3. KS Hokej Start Brzeziny (Poland)

4. HK Zelina (Croatia)

5. HC Wiener Neudorf (Austria)

6. KPH Rača (Slovakia)

7. Cambrai (France)

8. Penarth (Wales)

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