2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Semifinals and Placement Preview
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2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Semifinals and Placement Preview

2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Semifinals and Placement Preview by Zoë Hayden

The matchups are now set for the semifinals and the placement game that will determine 5th and 6th place in the tournament. All of these games will take place on Saturday, April 13.

Switzerland vs. Germany – 11:00AM Eastern

The placement game will determine who ranks 5th and 6th at the tournament. The winner will be in Group A for the 2025 tournament, while the loser will play in Group B. Neither team is happy with their quarterfinal result and will be looking to guarantee a spot in the quarterfinals next year. (That is, unless the IIHF changes the tournament format – there's a press conference scheduled for Sunday to release details about the 2025 IIHF Women's Worlds in Czechia. Remember that the 2024 U18 women's tournament featured non-weighted groups and each of the 8 teams were then seeded for a quarterfinal round; this could be seen as a test run for a similar format at the senior level.)

Both of these teams have outstanding goaltending. Germany's Sandra Abstreiter and Switzerland's Andrea Brändli each have the potential to steal this game outright. Germany's defense has just been suffocating in this tournament and if they can execute that against Switzerland the same way, they have a very good chance of getting the W. If Switzerland can start finishing more reliably on the chances they do get, it could be a close contest.

The placement game is almost never televised which is an absolute shame because this could be one of the better matchups of the tournament. Nicole and Melissa will update you on what happens from Utica.

USA vs. Finland – 3:00 PM Eastern

When these two teams met in group play, it was closer than Team USA would have liked it to be. Finland got three goals on Aerin Frankel despite not being able to put up a lot of shots, and Anni Keisala did everything she could against 45 shots from the Americans. In a way, it's Team USA's worst result of the tournament so far – it's literally the only time they've allowed any goals, and Finland managed to get three of them and keep it interesting until the very end.

That said, it never felt like Team USA wasn't in control of the game – but they will have to be sharp. Finland was very good at capitalizing on Team USA mistakes and finding soft areas of the ice when they needed to. They made their limited opportunities count, but ran out of gas in the third.

The Americans are going to look to play the same tough possession game they played against every other opponent so far in this tournament. If they are the team they purport to be, they'll execute here and their offense will shine. As Nicole wrote, the new combination of Abbey Murphy and Tessa Janecke is already bearing some fruit – let's see if they can keep it going against a tougher opponent.

A concern for Finland has to be that they got a bit lucky to beat Switzerland the way they did, benefiting from some bounces. Their offense will need to be more intentional and persistent if they want to continue to hang with Team USA. But they've proven they can score on the Americans, which is more than any other team in the entire tournament can say. There's something to build on there, particularly if they can get anything going on special teams. Finland's is the best PP unit left in the tournament, other than Team USA's, executing at 20% to the Americans' 23.08%.

While I expect Sanni Ahola in net for Finland, Team USA might use Nicole Hensley here.

Canada vs. Czechia – 7:00 PM Eastern

Czechia got a gritty win against Germany in the quarterfinals and should have a lot of confidence heading into this. The problem they're going to face is that as good as Germany's defense has been, Canada's can be just as smothering and they have the goal support to back it up.

Canada beat Czechia already 5-0 in group play and did an excellent job frustrating Czechia's attack, which works best when they can use the whole offensive zone. Canada shut down the middle and removed options for Czechia on zone entries with ease, and they played a tough possession game.

Czechia will need to go back to their defensive basics if they hope to hold a different result against Canada in the semifinals. If they can keep Canada frustrated, they could capitalize on whatever mistakes Canada does make and create some offense. They'll need to ensure that their whole-ice game as a team is as good as Klára Peslarová has been behind them. Watch closely to see what adjustments they make to their attack compared to their last time out against the Canadians because the difference, if any, will be in the details.

Canada knows what they have to do. If they can possess the puck they're going to score goals. They'll need to be defensively responsible the whole way and execute exactly like they did the last time they met Czechia.