2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Day 1
- 5 min read

2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Day 1

2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Day 1 by Zoë Hayden, Melissa Burgess

Denmark 1, Sweden 3

This game was a little more lopsided than the score suggests, but the shot clock tells the story – Sweden out-shot Denmark by a margin of 39 to 5 and kept Emma-Sofie Nordström busy. The game was scoreless after one period, with Sweden failing to capitalize on two power play opportunities, and Denmark managed to manage the neutral zone well and do a good job clearing the defensive zone when necessary.

Sweden started to pull away in the second period, getting their first goal of the tournament from their 13th forward, Felizia Wikner-Zienkiewicz, who was able to come into the zone with room. She held onto the puck, cut to the middle, and used a Danish defender as a screen to beat Nordström with a quick shot.

Lina Ljungblom made it 2-0 on the power play before the end of the period, on one knee from the slot. Denmark did not register a shot on Emma Söderberg during the second period, while Sweden put up 20.

The third would shape up to be Denmark's best period, but first they went down 3-0 on a wraparound from Josefin Bouveng. They clawed back through to get some chances on goal and captain Nicoline Jensen made magic happen on the rush. The puck was away from her and it didn't seem like a quality scoring opportunity, but she charged between the D and forced Nördstrom out to challenge. She cleared the puck herself, but it went into several bodies and ended up loose in front. Jensen and Olivia Ranum crashed the crease and Ranum put a loose puck through the goalie pads. It died in the paint, but Jensen poked it home to cut the lead to 3-1 – which would end up being the final score.

The biggest gap for Denmark right now seems to be speed and transition. When they did gain possession, they weren't able to turn things around quickly and execute a quick breakout, needing a few moments to regroup and check to see where their teammates were. Sweden simply had the legs and deadly transition game to beat them handily. They have the building blocks of a strong defensive game, and Jensen's goal is a good blueprint for how to find offense when you can't establish controlled breakouts. Nordström was simply outstanding, but Sweden was firing on all cylinders. It's what you expect when the cusp Group A/Group B team meets the lowest-ranked team in this tournament, but there were a lot of positives for Denmark to take away.

– ZH

Finland 0, Czechia 4

It was a dominant performance by Czechia on both offense and defense. While Finland had some dangerous chances and couldn't solve Klára Peslarová, Czechia really separated themselves in this game and showed why they have become the true #3 program in the world.

The first period was scoreless but exciting, with teams exchanging back-and-forth chances. The middle of the ice was hotly contested, though both teams managed to construct breakouts and get quality scoring opportunities. Play along the boards was tough and physical, and both Peslarová and Sanni Ahola were perfect, facing 7 and 10 shots respectively.

Czechia started to pull away in the second period and didn't look back. Early in the frame, Ahola made a sprawling desperation save, reaching back with her glove to swat away a loose puck in the paint that had Tereza Vanišová's name on it. It was an incredible stop, but it seemed to fuel Czechia more than Ahola's team, and they kept pushing. Their first goal came with Natálie Mlýnková taking the puck off the boards and getting a quick shot off on Ahola, who didn't quite control the rebound, and Adéla Šapovalivová was in tight to backhand the puck home.

It would stand as the game-winner, but Klára Hymlárová's insurance goal with just three minutes left in the second was the dagger that did it – she carried the puck in all alone against three Finnish defenders, got a shot on Ahola through a screen, then picked up her own rebound and kicked it to her stick for a backhand finish.

Finland had some opportunities in the third, and actually out-shot Czechia 10-7, but didn't mount much sustained pressure. Czechia simply protected Peslarová very well, limited what Finland could do with her rare rebounds, and kept their sticks in passing and shooting lanes. They added two empty netters, one from Mlýnková and another by Tereza Plosová to seal the deal.

Finland feels like they're still trying to find their identity at this level again, whereas Czechia's two-way game has really come into its own as a force to be reckoned with. They have tougher tests ahead, but this was an opening statement game for the victors.

– ZH

United States 4, Switzerland 0

Were it not for the heroic performance of Swiss goaltender Andrea Brändli, this game easily could've been 10-0 or even worse. Brändli stood on her head all night, stopping both high-danger chances and softer shots from the Americans, and really kept the game tantalizingly close. Team USA outshot Switzerland by a 55-11 margin, but it took over 25 minutes of game time before they finally broke the seal.

After a scoreless first period, Haley Winn notched her first goal of the night when she picked up a cross-ice pass from Hayley Scamurra and fired a shot from the edge of the circle to Brändli's left side. Brändli was screened, and the fluttering puck went over the goalie's glove and in.

Just over 10 minutes later, Kendall Coyne Schofield put Team USA up 2-0. Alex Carpenter fired a shot toward the net, and the puck slid past the goaltender and was sitting in the crease. Coyne Schofield rushed in at the opportune moment and was able to tap it with her stick to finish of the play.

Hilary Knight & Winn added goals in the third period. Knight's tally came up just past the midway point of the period when she tipped in a point shot by Cayla Barnes, while Winn's second of the game came on a fast snipe from the point. Knight also nearly had another one on a backhand break, but the puck never fully crossed the line and following a review, the on-ice call was overturned.

This felt like a good game to start the tournament for Team USA, even if the final score doesn't fully reflect the team's effort. They got plenty of shots on net, and had plenty more that were blocked. They were particularly dangerous right around the net, getting a lot of close-on shots. Kelly Pannek, despite playing just 7:35, led all skaters with six shots on goal. For Switzerland, you couldn't ask for anything else from Andrea Brändli. The team overall did a good job of pushing their opponent and keeping up with the pace, though it's understandably challenging to keep up with Team USA for a full 60 minutes. It may feel like a small victory for the Swiss, but a four-goal deficit seems like a good thing when Team USA plays that hard against you. Despite the stat line, Switzerland looks improved and more composed compared to where they were last year.

– MB

Coming up on Thursday, April 4

  • 11:00 AM Eastern – China vs. Japan (Group B) (NHL Network, TSN4)
  • 3:00 PM Eastern – Denmark vs. Germany (Group B) (ESPN+, TSN4)
  • 7:00 PM Eastern – Canada vs. Finland (Group A) (ESPN+, TSN1/4)

(Photo: IIHF)