For the first time in history, Canada swept all three major women's international tournaments, capturing the gold medal at the Olympics, U-18s and Worlds. Powered by a strong performance from Ann-Renee Desbiens in net and a pair of goals from Brianne Jenner, Canada defeated the United States 2-1 to capture their second consecutive Worlds title.
Both teams showcased their defensive prowess early on, limiting the other team's shots on goal and overall chances. Although the United States had to kill two penalties in the opening twenty minutes, the game remained 0-0, with shots 5-2 in favor of Canada in the first period.
Brianne Jenner opened the scoring just before the midway point on a shot from below the faceoff circle to Nicole Hensley's right that found an open side of the net. Just 1:24 later, Jenner quickly doubled her team's lead on a forehand shot that beat Hensley far-side.
Oddly enough, it was Jenner - well, her penalty - that gave the United States' offense its needed boost before the end of the second period. With 21 seconds left, Abby Roque cut Canada's lead in half, picking up a feed from Amanda Kessel through the crease.
The United States ramped up its efforts in the third period, outshooting Canada 12-6 and forcing Desbiens to make multiple quick saves. Try as they might, the Americans couldn't get another puck past the netminder, even after pulling Nicole Hensley for the extra attacker with 2:39 to play.
The gold medal is Canada's 12th in Worlds history; this is also the 12th time the United States has won silver at Worlds.
With two goals, Jenner was named Canada's best player of the game. She played 22:29, including 8:39 in the third period, and recorded four shots on goal. Jocelyne Larocque led Canada in ice time (22:54), while Sarah Potomak played just 8:03 despite technically being on the team's top line. She skated only 16 seconds in the third period.
Desbiens had 20 saves. Her counterpart, Hensley, had 17 saves. Kendall Coyne Schofield was named the United States' best player, with one assist and four shots in 15:33.
Czechia Wins Bronze
Czechia has a lot to celebrate after this tournament, including its first-ever medal. Czechia captured bronze in a 4-2 win over Switzerland. This is only the seventh tournament they've participated in, and they were only promoted back to the top division in 2016. It's a huge step for a team that finished seventh in 2021.
Czechia dominated play early on with regards to both zone time and possession. Eventually, the pressure paid off, as Natalie Mlynkova put the puck past a screened Andrea Brandli. Halfway through the first period, Switzerland was still looking for its first shot on goal. They got a big break when Michaela Pejzlova was sent off for tripping, allowing them to square up their offense and finally register a few shots on goal - and a goal.
After setting up the play for about 30 seconds of the advantage, Lara Christen composed a phenomenal pass from the point to Alina Marti, who shot it from the faceoff circle to the left of Klara Peslarova and into the net.
The momentum of the game could've taken a big swing, as Czechia's Daniela Pejsova took a tripping penalty less than two minutes after the Swiss goal. However, Czechia regained control when Dominika Laskova found Pejsova on her way out of the box; she got the goaltender moving and capitalized on a top-shelf shot.
Just 2:06 into the second period, Vendula Pribylova made it a two-goal game. Pribylova had an impressive play, getting the puck back across and into the zone, forcing Braendli to move and go down. The netminder couldn't get over in time to make the save, and Czechia went up 3-1.
After a handful of penalties, Mlynkova scored her second of the game, bringing the puck around from behind the net and in front, looking to pass but shooting instead. Although Nicole Vallario scored on the power play in the third period and Switzerland outshot their opponent 13-3 in the final frame, Czechia was able to hold on for the win.
Japan Beats Finland 1-0
Finally, in the fifth-place game, Japan beat Finland 1-0 in a shootout despite being outshot 51-16 in regulation. Finland also outshot their opponent 10-1 in overtime, and even appeared to have won the game at one point. The goal, however, was called off and the play deemed offside.
Noora Tulus scored for Finland in the shootout, but both Haruka Toko and Remi Koyama tallied for Japan against netminder Anni Keisala. This means Japan finishes the tournament fifth, while Finland is sixth.
There are some major discrepancies about what this means for Finland next year. Per standard IIHF protocol, it appears that Finland would be moved to Group B, allowing Japan to retain their Group A status. However, there has been confusion about this, with the IIHF, media and broadcasts all saying different things. If, indeed, Finland maintains their current spot, it would appear to make the placement game meaningless.
Nicole Hensley was named top goaltender, while Daniela Pejsova was named top defender. Taylor Heise was named MVP and top forward; she finished the tournament with 18 points (7-11). Kessel had 17 points (611).
The tournament all-star team is: Klara Peslarova; Daniela Pejsova; Caroline Harvey; Taylor Heise; Sarah Fillier, and Amanda Kessel.
Desbiens finished the tournament with a .934 save percentage and 0.80 GAA. Keisala had a .934 save percentage as well, but a 2.05 GAA. Hensley had a .929 save percentage and 1.08 GAA.