PHF Playoff Preview: Isobel Cup Final
Previewing the 2023 Isobel Cup Final between the Premier Hockey Federation's Minnesota Whitecaps & Toronto Six.
Recapping the final day of preliminary round action at the 2022 IIHF Women's World Championships.
For the second consecutive year, Czechia has gone undefeated in the preliminary round at the IIHF Women's World Championships. The team sealed its perfect record with Tuesday's edge of Sweden, who went 1-2-0-1. Czechia finishes atop Group B.
After an uneventful start, Vendula Pribylova made it 1-0 near the midway point of the game. Pribylova did it all on this play, skating the puck along the boards and cutting across to the front, then sniping a shot past a crowd to find the back of the net.
Natalie Mlynkova added a goal halfway through the third period, making it 2-0 on a top-shelf shot from down low after a nifty backhand tip pass from Kristyna Patkova. Klara Hymlarova added an empty-net goal with just under eight minutes to play.
Klara Peslarova stopped all 27 shots faced in the shutout and was named her team's Best Player, while Emma Soderberg had 21 saves. Mlynkova had the goal, plus five shots, in 19:16 and has been a highlight of Czechia's offense alongside Katerina Mrazova. The pair combined had 13 points in the preliminary round.
Elisa Holopainen added to her already solid Worlds performance with another goal Tuesday, while Viivi Vainikka and Nelli Laitinen also continued to contribute offensively as Finland snagged its second win.
The Finns wasted no time getting into the game, with quick goals from Susanna Tapani and Holopainen putting them up by a pair less than seven minutes in. Tapani crashed the net a bit after an initial save from Andrea Braendli; the puck came loose from under the goalie's pad, and Tapani was able to to push it in.
Minutes later, Holopainen picked up the puck behind the boards off a pass attempt from Petra Nieminen, cut to the front of the net and got a shot up high and over Braendli's shoulder to make it 2-0.
Further evidence of Finland's hot start - as if the two-goal lead wasn't enough - was the shot counter after the first period: 16-2. The team continued to add to its goal total in the middle frame, scoring another two goals.
Krista Parkkonen connected on a cross-ice pass from Michelle Karvinen in the slot. Just past the midway point of the game, Switzerland swapped goaltenders, bringing in Saskai Maurer for Braendli.
Before the end of the second period, however, the Swiss found themselves in some penalty trouble, with both Sinja Leemann and Janine Hauser in the box for illegal hits. Ronja Savolainen scored on the resulting two-player advantage for Finland's fourth and final tally of the game.
Jenna Silvonen came in to relieve Anni Keisala for the third period. Each Finnish goaltender was perfect on their respective three shots faced. At the other end of the rink, Braendli made 19 saves on 22 shots (31:02), while Maurer had 21 saves on 22 shots (28:58).
Swiss defender Lara Christen once again led all skaters in ice time (28:42).
Denmark's Josefine Persson opened the scoring 4:40 in, capitalizing off a 3-on-2 opportunities from outside the circle to the goaltender's left to make it 1-0. A few short minutes later, however, Germany took advantage of a power play to quickly tie the game, as Franziska Feldmeier scored her first top-division Worlds goal.
Emma Russell broke the stalemate 8:57 into the middle frame, making up for an earlier penalty in the game. Russell received a cross-ice pass from Josefine Jakobsen, then threw a shot on net from the slot - and through a crowd - to beat Sandra Abstreiter over the shoulder.
Although Denmark held the edge going into the third period, you wouldn't have known it. The team went more than 15 minutes without a shot on goal, then gave up the tying goal to Laura Kluge in the final five minutes of the game. Kluge shoveled the puck in on the doorstep with 4:12 to play, on Germany's 33rd shot.
After Kluge scored, Germany pulled Abstreiter in attempt to force a regulation win, which they needed in order to avoid relegation. In the absolutely most dramatic fashion, Tanja Eisenschmid scored with one second remaining in regulation on a long shot, beating a screened Cassandra Repstock-Romme glove-side.
With the win, Germany avoids relegation and Hungary will play in the quarterfinal for the first time. As a result, Denmark is relegated.
Despite facing an 0-2 deficit and then being doubly-outshot in the second period, the United States took the top spot in Group A after the preliminary round with a 5-2 victory over second-place Canada.
Canada jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period on goals by Sarah Fillier and Ella Shelton. Fillier opened the scoring less than five minutes in, jumping on a rebound in front of the net after the initial point shot by Renata Fast. The US missed several chances before Shelton picked up a rebound of her own and capitalizing on a fumbling Nicole Hensley on the power play to double the lead.
The United States rallied back in the second period, beginningg with a power-play tally from Megan Keller. As the Americans cycled the puck through the zone and got shots on net, Keller's shot was redirected (by a Canada player) in front. Just past the midway point, Kelly Pannek tied the game, tipping in a shot from Cayla Barnes to make it 2-2.
It was enough to turn the tide for the Americans, who scored three times in the third period and outshot Canada 14-4 in the final frame en route to the win.
Lacey Eden broke the tie just 3:14 in on a shot from the faceoff circle to the right of goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer. Kendall Coyne Schofield and Hilary Knight (empty-netter) added insurance goals later in the period. Nicole Hensley had 26 saves, while Maschmeyer had 28 saves.
Jocelyne Larocque was named Canada's best player of the game after skating a team-high 24:50. With two assists and three shots on goal in 21:24, Savannah Harmon was the US' best player.
Here are the final standings at the end of the preliminary round:
1. United States
Quarterfinals: Thursday, September 1