Thursday, April 4
Germany vs. Sweden (2-1 SO)
The IIHF Women's World Championships got off to an exciting start on Thursday, with Germany pulling off an upset win over Sweden despite being outshot by an overwhelming margin of 41 to 15. Veteran netminder Jennifer Harß stood tall to make 40 saves in regulation and overtime – including 5 saves in overtime when Team Germany did not have a single shot on goal.
Sweden did get on the board first in the middle period, thanks to a second-rebound opportunity picked up and shuffled behind Harß by Sofia Engstrom. Germany tied it up less than five minutes later on a power play opportunity, as a shot from the point by Daria Gleissner was redirected in tight by Emily Nix. Nix had also started the play from behind the net and kept the puck moving, ultimately creating the shot opportunity.
All Harß had to be was perfect for the rest of the game – a tall order, but she was, including in the shootout, using an extremely nifty pokecheck to prevent Sweden's Maja Nylen-Persson from getting a shot off to seal the win. Laura Kluge got the lone goal for Germany in the 5-round shootout.
Canada vs. Switzerland (6-0)
The Canadians walloped Switzerland 6-0, after getting a 2-0 lead in the first period. A scoreless second kept comeback hopes alive until Canada exploded with a 4-goal third period. Shannon Szabados only had to make six saves for the shutout as her teammates dominated puck possession and put 53 official shots on Andrea Brandli, who still made an impressive 47 saves in the loss.
Loren Gabel opened the scoring with a quick shot from between the circles about midway through the first period, shortly after Shannon Szabados accidentally tripped an official with her goalie stick. Natalie Spooner scored a virtual carbon copy of this goal, from the same spot, about a minute later, giving Canada the 2-0 lead.
The only player who came close to scoring for the Swiss was Alina Müller in the second period, who forced Szabados to hug her post.
The third period was somewhat demoralizing for Switzerland, opening with an own goal after Emily Clark was checked into Brandli while she was in the blue paint. Clark was the last Canadian to touch the puck but Brandli's skate put it into her own net. Brandli was next beaten by two redirects, one by Emily Clark and another by Jamie Lee Rattray, again from similar spots on her stick side. Blayre Turnbull added the sixth goal with just 2 minutes left in the game.
France vs. Japan (0-3)
Japan came out on top of France by a score of 3-0. The scoring opened in the second period with Mei Miura flipping in a rebound puck while French goalie Caroline Baldin was hugging the post at the other side of the net. Their second goal of the period came from a great sequence of puck movement, with Chiho Osawa taking the puck to the outside and feeding a perfect pass to Ayaka Toko, who drove to the center of the ice and wristed it past a scrambling Baldin.
They sealed the deal with a third goal in the final period, tapping a puck five-hole on Baldin from in tight.
Nana Fujimoto made 25 saves for the win and the shutout. Baldin was 35 for 38.
Japan took two penalties in the game for illegal checks and spent 10 total minutes shorthanded, so they will want to remain more disciplined and not give those power play opportunities to teams with more powerful offensive weapons.
USA vs. Finland (6-2)
The Finns had Team USA on the ropes, but a five-goal surge in the third period for the Americans changed everything, as Finland couldn't contain the #1-ranked team in the world after achieving a slim lead.
They drew first blood, though, coming three players strong in on Alex Rigsby halfway through the first. Viivi Vainikka put a perfect backhand pass to Elisa Holopainen who was driving the net, and she was able to flip the puck past Rigsby for the 1-0 lead. Team USA tied it up before the end of the period on a delayed penalty.
The second period saw Finland take the lead on the power play. After a clean puck retrieval by Riikka Sallinen, Jenni Hiirikoski got the puck to Petra Niemenen, who snapped it through a screen and behind Rigsby.
The floodgates opened for Team USA in the final frame, and while Noora Räty did what she could to stop the onslaught, she gave up six goals. It all started with a giveaway. Instead of getting the puck out of the zone, Finland gave it away to Megan Keller, who found Melissa Samoskevich coming off the bench. Samoskevich's shot beat Räty and the game was tied.
Hilary Knight gave the Americans their first lead of the day by swooping in and wristing one from her knees. Alex Carpenter redirected a point shot by Cayla Barnes on the power play to increase the lead to 4-2. Brianna Decker made it 5-2 from in tight. The final nail in the coffin came from Annie Pankowski, who elected to shoot instead of pass on a 2-on-1. As in years past, Finland played a solid 40 minutes, and even had the lead for quite some time, but couldn't hold off the Americans in the third.
Friday, April 5
Czech Republic vs. France (3-1)
Goals from Kateřina Mrázová, Klára Hymlarová, and Aneta Lédlová lifted the Czech Republic over France. Emmanuelle Passard added a late goal for France's first goal of the tournament.
The Czechs outshot France 43 to 17, and France also took six penalties throughout, including a call for too many players to open the game, three slashing calls, holding, and hooking. The pace of top division play hasn't been kind to France so far.
Russia vs. Switzerland (2-1)
A penalty-filled 60 minutes ended with Russia on top in the final minute, thanks to a late goal by Olga Sosina.
Janine Alder did everything she could to give her team a chance to win and ultimately made 41 saves. They were in a position to win briefly, too, after Evelina Raselli scored on the power play in the first period, after Anna Savonina had sent a puck over the glass. Anna Timofeyeva tied the game for Russia in the dying seconds of the first period, rocketing a shot past Alder after a great pass by Sosina.
Late in the third period, Sosina came up clutch while Russia had 5-on-3 advantage, wristing a shot perfectly from the middle of the ice and behind Alder. The Russians would hang on for the win.
Other game highlights via the IIHF (hover over the game you want to see, and then click "highlights")
- Sweden vs. Czech Republic - 5:30 AM Eastern
- Russia vs. Finland - 9:00 AM Eastern
- Japan vs. Germany - 11:00 AM Eastern
- Canada vs. United States - 12:30 PM Eastern (TSN / NHL Network)