Monday, April 8
Japan vs. Czech Republic (1-3)
The Czech Republic gained an edge over Japan in a dramatic tilt. Denisa Křížová opened the scoring after Ayaka Toko gave up the puck behind the Japanese net, leading to a scramble in front of Nana Fujimoto, and Křížová was able to poke the puck behind her.
The second Czech goal came off of a giveaway as well, this time at Japan's own blueline, and Michaela Pejzlová was able to get the puck to Vendula Přibylová in front of the net for a tap-in. Japan had a chance late in the first period to capitalize on a giveaway as well when Haruka Toko stole a puck and had a virtual breakaway on Klara Peslarová, but she was stopped.
Japan also had a chance on a penalty shot in the second period when Aneta Tejralová was charged with closing her hand on the puck in the crease behind Peslarová to prevent a goal. The penalty shot was taken by Hanae Kubo, but Peslarová was with her every step of the way and made a pad save, keeping the score 2-0.
Kubo got her revenge with a high shot on the power play late in the third period, cutting the lead to 2-1. But Tereza Vanišová buried the empty netter for the Czechs, skating around several defenders to do it, and making it look easy. Japan only had 12 shots in the game, but the Czechs needed their goaltender to get this win, because the score remained close thanks to Nana Fujimoto, who made 24 saves.
Finland vs. Switzerland (6-2)
Despite going down early on, Finland got to have their own offensive coming-out party at these Worlds. Evelina Raselli opened the scoring for the Swiss by pushing a puck past Eveliina Suonpaa on a broken play. There were only 6 and a half minutes left in the first, but their lead was short-lived thanks to a redirected goal by Susanna Tapani less than 30 seconds later. This was reviewed because of a possible high stick, but was ruled legal. By the end of the period, Finland had the lead on a power play goal by Rosa Lindstedt, who redirected the puck five-hole on Andrea Brandli off a shot from the point.
Alina Müller tied the game for the Swiss on a power play in the second, with an absolute snipe from the top of the left circle. But the goals kept coming for Finland – first a redirect by Linda Valimaki, which she actually managed to tip while she was being tackled by a Swiss player, and then a nifty almost-no-look backhand by Michelle Karvinen.
With a 4-2 lead, the Finns came out guns blazing in the third, and outshot the Swiss 10-3, adding goals from in tight by Minnamari Tuominen and Karvinen again. Ultimately Finland capitalized on a 45-shot performance and dominated.
Germany vs. France (2-3 OT)
France pulled off an upset win over Germany and while they will still be relegated, they went down swinging and got great goaltending from Caroline Lambert.
Lara Escudero opened the scoring for France again, this time outskating a stunned German defense to snipe a shot on Jennifer Harß. Germany got the tying goal on a tough-angle shot.
Germany took the lead for the first time after a giveaway at the French blueline, which allowed Kerstin Spielberger to skate in and score. But France tied the game at 2-2 on a power play goal from the center point by Estelle Duvin.
A scoreless third period set up France's dramatic OT finish. After a save by Lambert at one end, the puck popped to the boards and was retrieved by Chloé Aurard. Aurard gained speed and evaded Julia Zorn, stopping short in front of Harß and wristing the puck over her pad just before Zorn slid into both Aurard and her own goaltender. It's a disappointing loss for Germany, but a great look at France's potentially bright future.
Canada vs. Russia (5-1)
Canada's big win over Russia came at a price. Marie-Philip Poulin returned to the ice only to re-aggravate her knee injury that had kept her out of the Clarkson Cup Playoffs and all previous Group A games in this tournament. Canada has more than enough firepower without her, but it's still an extremely disappointing setback for a team that has its eyes set on the World Championship gold.
Canada had three power play chances in the first period, and finally capitalized on the last of these, as Natalie Spooner redirected a hard shot by Brigette Lacquette to beat Anna Prugova.
Two quick goals in the second by Rebecca Johnston (a rocket after coming out from behind the net) and Blayre Turnbull (an aggressive backhander that went five-hole) chased Prugova and brought in Nadezhda Morozova, but she wasn't spared. Russia pretty much immediately took a penalty and Natalie Spooner got her second of the game on a wraparound. She then completed her hat trick on another wraparound move – this time actually fully circling the net and tapping it in on the far side.
Russia got on the scoresheet in the third, thanks to a power play goal. With Brianne Jenner sitting in the box for roughing, Liana Ganeyeva blasted a shot from the point that ultimately was tipped by Jocelyne Larocque's stick and behind Geneviève Lacasse. Not a the worst result in the world after being outshot 20-0 in the second period alone.
Tuesday, April 9
Sweden vs. Japan (2-3)
Japan was able to capitalize on special teams and got strong goaltending from Nana Fujimoto, allowing them to beat Sweden and relegate them for the first time in history.
Emma Nordin scored first for Sweden in the opening period, taking a pass from Pernilla Winberg and beating Fujimoto from in tight. Japan tied the game in the second on a very similar goal – Chiho Osawa with a long cross-ice pass to Haruna Yoneyama, who was at the far post for a tap-in. Japan thought they had scored late in the second period, but it was determined that time had expired before the puck crossed the goal line.
This set the stage for a dramatic third period. Sweden regained the lead after Japan coughed up the puck behind their own net, leading to a flurry of activity in front of Fujimoto. Ultimately Sofia Engstrom would get the last stick on it.
But Akane Shiga tied the game for Japan on the power play, redirecting a shot from the center point by Ayaka Toko past Sara Grahn. On the power play yet again (with Erika Grahm in the box for charging), Toko's shot came up big, as she expertly picked the top corner and beat Grahn cleanly through a screen.
Japan would hold on for the lead, and earn their quarterfinal matchup with the United States as the third-ranked team in Group B.
USA vs. Russia (10-0)
Team USA is still the offense to beat as they put up a stunning 10 goals on Team Russia. Two minutes in – Amanda Kessel. Next, Cayla Barnes, taking the puck into the middle of the ice on her own and finding a seam to beat Valeria Merkusheva. Kendall Coyne Schofield caused a turnover at the Russian blueline for the third goal.
The fourth goal was Megan Bozek's – a big slapshot from up high. Next, on a stunning sequence of possession by Team USA, Lee Stecklein came off the bench and went to the net to score, an unconventional move for a blueliner that worked well for Team USA. This chased Merkusheva and brought in Anna Prugova for the remainder of the game.
Hilary Knight's sixth goal was in and out so fast that the official didn't even see it, and gameplay continued for some time after and the play had to be reviewed. Ultimately it was correctly called a goal – and it was a pretty wicked shot from the right circle. Coyne Schofield had Team USA's 7th goal late in the second period from the slot towards the end of a power play.
In the third: goals from Decker right in the paint (off a nice feed by Pankowski), Stecklein again (they credited it to her because it was initially her shot, though it looked like Decker may have gotten the last stick on it), and finally Samoskevich (again, official on the scoresheet, but it was probably actually Jesse Compher).
Alex Rigsby pitched a shutout with 12 saves. It was a quiet night for her.
Czech Republic vs. Germany (2-0)
Or more accurately, Alena Mills 2, Germany 0.
It was not Germany's night as they spent a lot of crucial time shorthanded. Mills' first goal came on the power play from the top of the hashmarks in the right circle, beating Ivonne Schroeder. Her second came exactly two minutes later on another shot from the right point, though it may be changed since the tape indicates it may have been tipped. With that win, the Czechs draw Finland in the quarterfinals.
Canada vs. Finland (6-1)
Canada got their revenge on Finland from the 2017 Worlds, and handily. Their first goal was a shot by Ann-Sophie Bettez that was ultimately tipped by Loren Gabel past Noora Räty. Their next came from Rebecca Johnston pouncing in for a rebound while Räty was still on her near post.
Bettez connected with Gabel again for Gabel's second of the game, feeding her a perfect pass as she came streaking into the zone, and she went high on Räty to make it 3-0. This goal ultimately chased Räty. Next it was Gabel's turn to be the playmaker, as she feathered a pass to Brianne Jenner who got a chance to go one-on-one with Eveliina Suonpaa in a quick sequence. She didn't miss.
Ella Viitasuo got Finland on the board with a shot from the left point early in the third period, but couldn't get another behind Szabados despite three power play chances over the rest of the game.
Sarah Nurse added to the lead when she picked up a loose puck and quickly skated in alone on Suonpaa and scored with a quick wrister. The final Canadian goal was a beautiful redirect by Erin Ambrose after some nifty passing by Mélodie Daoust and Jamie Lee Rattray.
These two teams may yet meet again in the semifinals – and Finland will be eager to put on a better showing. I wouldn't expect another lopsided score in that one.
The quarterfinals begin on Thursday and unlike in previous Worlds, the top 2 teams from Group A do not get a bye. Sweden and France, who have been relegated, will also play a placement game on Thursday.
Thursday, April 11
- USA vs. Japan (5:30 AM Eastern) (TSN / NHL Network)
- Sweden vs. France (7:00 AM Eastern)
- Canada vs. Germany (9:00 AM Eastern) (TSN / NHL Network)
- Russia vs. Switzerland (11:00 AM Eastern)
- Finland vs. Czech Republic (12:30 PM Eastern)