2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Day 2
- 6 min read

2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Day 2

2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Day 2 by Zoë Hayden, Nicole Haase

China 3, Japan 2 (SO)

China impressed in their first game in the top division since being relegated in 2009. Japan mounted shots on the young goalie Jiahui Zhan in the first period but found that offense was hard to come by, as she made several strong stops and the defense around her was active, clearing pucks from danger, blocking shots, and physically pressuring Japan's forwards. Akane Shiga opened the scoring off the rush with a nasty backhand shot about 4 minutes in, but that was all that Japan had to show for their 22 first period shots.

China came out with purpose in the second period and challenged, and got the equalizer. Jinglei Yang stole the puck in the neutral zone from Akane Hosoyamada with an active stick and took it the other way. Her shot was deflected slightly and beat Miyuu Masuhara to tie the game at 1.

Japan took the lead again early in the third on a goal from Makoto Ito, who went to the crease to pick up a rebound from Aoi Shiga's shot. But Japan got into penalty trouble, and China executed on their special teams to tie the game yet again. Mengying Zhan's shot from up high bounced around in some bodies, and Zhixin Liu got a stick on it to send it cross-crease, where Yingying Guan was able to tap it home on the backdoor.

Both teams had chances to win in regulation and overtime, but it went to shootout, and no one scored in all five rounds except Yingying Guan, yet again. Shooters for both teams had trouble executing, losing the puck or shooting wide, but Guan's neat shot beat Masuhara glove side. Zhan then stopped Rui Ukita to seal the victory.

The story of the game was undoubtedly China's goaltender. The 17-year-old made a staggering 50 saves through 65 minutes and was perfect in the shootout, whether making a save or coming out to challenge. Japan's shooters didn't know what to do when she took their space away, and they whiffed on several shots. Zhan didn't see the net in the Division IA tournament that brought China to this level, but she has made a convincing case that it should be hers going forward.

China will need more offense to have further success, since it's arguable they got a little lucky against Japan and Masuhara, but they battled hard to get this win and it was well-earned. I suspected that Japan might be vulnerable to upsets and so far that's been correct. Several players are performing well at an individual level – Akane and Aoi Shiga were outstanding and Rui Ukita was a force, but they had some defensive lapses throughout the game, ran into a hot goalie, and China made them pay.

– ZH

Denmark 1, Germany 5

Germany dominated puck possession early in this one and never looked back. Denmark had an early power play and got some good movement and passing sequences on it, but didn't have much to show for it. Then, they successfully killed a German power play and found themselves back on the advantage again. But after a great save by Sandra Abstreiter, Germany was able to go the other way and score shorthanded as Lilli Welcke picked up a rebound from her sister Luisa at the very end of the period after crashing the net.

The special teams saga continued into the second. Denmark had an early power play chance, but got progressively more frustrated by Germany's possession play and ended up taking four consecutive penalties, including two for illegal hits and one for boarding. In the final minute of the frame, Germany finally broke through on the advantage on a slapshot from Laura Kluge to extend the lead to 2-0.

After two straight periods where they fought hard but made mistakes and ended up conceding a goal in the final minute, Denmark came out with some intent to start the third, but Germany kept putting themselves in a position to intercept Denmark's breakout passes. Emma-Sofie Nordström limited second opportunities extremely well, but Germany still had the run of play.

The third period opened up a bit, which gave Germany the opportunity to do more damage. First, Ronja Hark snuck one in through Nordström's pads from the point; then Julie Schiefer ripped one from the hash marks off the rush that beat the Danish goalie stick side.

Denmark pulled their goaltender with a power play late in the third period and managed to break through Sandra Abstreiter, with Nicoline Jensen ripping one that went in over her shoulder. Denmark tried to score again with the extra attacker, but Emily Nix sealed the deal for Germany with an empty netter for a 5-1 final score.

Germany really held court, outshooting their opponent 44 to 12, and Denmark fell to 0-2 in the tournament. Nicoline Jensen continues to be a scoring threat, and they continue to be tough to play against physically, but they didn't help themselves by spending as much time as they did playing frustrated and shorthanded. There were stretches of the game where their speed and tape-to-tape execution on passing were truly impressive, but they didn't stay composed enough to maintain it.

– ZH

Canada 4, Finland 1

Sometimes the goalie is named as a team's best player by default or because no one else stood out. On Thursday night, Ann-Renée Desbiens earned the honor as she shored up a shaky Canadian defense that allowed a lot of chaos in front of her, including 33 shots on goal. They also took six penalties, leaving Desbiens to carry her team to a win with both her acrobatics and calm demeanor. The victory was Canada's 100th at the Women's World Championships and Julia Gosling scored in her debut at this tournament, but the 4-1 scoreline doesn't aptly describe how this one played out as Finland looked poised to pull an upset. 

Brianne Jenner put away a rebound midway through the first to give Canada a 1-0 lead and they went into the intermission with a 17-7 lead in shots on goal. Emma Maltais took a pass from Natalie Spooner as she wrapped around the net to increase the lead in the opening minutes of the second, but it was clear that Finland had regrouped at the intermission. Petra Nieminen was spectacular for the Finns throughout the game, moving the puck well in transition and often making the Canada defense look like they were standing still as she maneuvered around them. Less than three minutes after Maltais' goal, Finland capitalized on one of Desbiens' rare mistakes as she lost track of the puck behind the net and was slow to shut off the other post as Michelle Karvinen fed Nieminen for an easy tally on a wide open net to make it 2-1. 

Both Nieminen and Jenni Hiirikoski had chances that looked prime to tie the game before Desbiens shut them down. Finland looked like the better team in the second, moving the puck more cleanly and with pace, but Desbiens made 11 saves to keep them from closing the gap. Just before the end of the period, Danielle Serdachny won the puck along the boards as Julia Gosling got tied up. When the puck was free, Gosling broke for the net front where she took a pass from Kristin O'Neill who was behind the net. Gosling dragged the puck around Sanni Ahola and backhanded it in to make it a 3-1 game. 

Finland kept pushing in the third, outshooting Canada 15-9. Nieminen was relentless, but Desbiens stopped her several more times to keep her team in it. On the other end of the ice, Ahola was as solid and spectacular as expected for Finland, even on short rest. She dealt with constant traffic in front of her and never showed any signs of getting frazzled as she made great saves and kept a lot of Canadian action to the perimeter. It was tough not to feel for her when Ella Shelton went bar down to extend the lead after Ahola made several point blank saves and sprawled to close the back door, losing her stick in the process. The puck was cleared and it looked like Ahola's heroics were once again successful, but Shelton stepped in and rocketed a shot to make it 4-1 as Ahola slumped in defeat at the sound of the pinging pipe and subsequent goal horn. 

Shelton led Canada with a goal and two assists.

– NH

Coming up on Friday, April 5

  • 11:00 AM Eastern – Sweden vs. China (Group B) (NHL Network, TSN3/4)
  • 3:00 PM Eastern – Switzerland vs. Canada (Group A) (ESPN+, TSN 3/4)
  • 7:00 PM Eastern – Czechia vs. United States (Group A) (NHL Network, TSN3)

(Photo: IIHF)