2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Placement and Semifinals
- 16 min read

2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Placement and Semifinals

2024 IIHF Women's World Championship: Placement and Semifinals by Melissa Burgess, Nicole Haase

Switzerland 3, Germany 2

by Melissa Burgess

What started as a high-level goaltending duel ended 4:07 into overtime, when Alina Müller (of course!) scored the game-winning goal to give Switzerland a fifth-place finish at the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championships. Switzerland struggled during the tournament, losing all four preliminary round games and their quarterfinal matchup, but won when they needed to in order to secure a top-five finish.

The goal was Müller's second of the game, as she also opened the scoring for Switzerland with 2:02 left to play in the first period. After Lara Christen fired a shot high from the point, the puck sailed through a crowd and Müller got her stick on it to redirect it past Sandra Abstreiter.

This game remained close throughout the duration, so it was no surprise when Boston University's Luisa Welcke tied it in the second period. Lara Stalder quickly regained Switzerland's lead on a slow shot that beat Abstreiter through the five-hole, but Germany tied it once more before the end of the middle frame. Emily Nix had probably the goal of the tournament for Germany, as she dropped the shoulder and despite falling as she got pushed by a Swiss player in front, managed to beat Andrea Brändli through the five-hole.

What could've been a game-defining moment came early in the third period. With 15:29 left in regulation, Brändli exited the game after a collision with Celina Haider just outside the crease. Saskia Maurer, who had only played one game all tournament, came in to relieve her, but suffice to say it's not easy to come in cold like that – and in a tied game, no less. Switzerland did a good job of keeping shots away and maintaining possession at the other end of the ice, and Maurer stepped up when called upon as Germany sent a deluge of shots her way late.

Germany certainly had their chances to win it in overtime, but Müller played the hero instead. She truly did it all on this play, picking up the puck just outside the neutral zone before spinning around and carrying it up the ice, getting behind the German defenders and shooting it far side past Abstreiter's blocker and in.

What We Learned

  • Switzerland will stay in Group A for 2025 – After not winning a game all tournament, they won when it mattered. This win will keep Switzerland as one of the top-five ranked nations, keeping them in Group A for next year. As a result, Germany will maintain their position in Group B. (Per an IIHF press conference this morning, there will be IIHF meetings in May and changing the tournament format to non-weighted groups is on the table, but not decided yet.)
  • Women's hockey fans came out to support! – Among the support in the crowd that I spotted: two PWHL Toronto jerseys, one PWHL Ottawa jersey, two Buffalo Beauts jerseys, a Connecticut Whale jersey from their game in Pittsburgh, and a Whale hoodie. A contingent of staff from PWHL Boston was also in the crowd. It was just nice to see that much support, especially for a fifth-place game that doesn't involve either of the top ranked teams.
  • Switzerland's bench still needs depth – Switzerland as a program doesn't have "enough players to choose from," which adds to their team's struggles. Head coach Colin Muller spoke after the game about how they've lost a few players to retirement and how that, along with several regulars who were unable to compete in Worlds this year, made it difficult. Essentially, there aren't a lot of players out there to choose from to replace them. Read more in Nicole's feature from Saturday's game!
  • Germany's top players: Sandra Abstreiter (3-2, 1 shutout, 1.19 GAA, .9504 sv%), Carina Strobel (0-2-2, +2, avg. 24:19), Laura Kluge (2-3-5, +4, avg. 19:36)
  • Switzerland's top players:  Alina Müller (2-2-4, -3, avg. 22:50), Lara Christen (0-3-3, -5, avg. 27:17), Andrea Brändli (0-4, 3.21 GAA, .9202 sv%)

Standout Performances

Switzerland G Saskia Maurer – It's never easy coming into a game cold like Maurer had to do here. It's even harder when it's tied game, in the third period and with the country's ranking on the line. Maurer said it happened so fast, she really didn't have any time to think about it before she went in. She only had to make three saves in 19:36, but props to her for staying calm and collected and doing her part, especially when Germany turned on the jets late in regulation. While Andrea Brändli is very clearly Switzerland's top goaltender, Maurer highlighted why her role on the team is just as important.

Switzerland F Alina Müller – She's one of the faces of Swiss hockey and has been for years. When you're one of the leaders, much is expected of you. She was absolutely up to the task on Saturday with two goals, and was second in ice time with 29:12, including skating for nearly half of the overtime period (2:02). Müller was named one of the best three players of the tournament for Switzerland, finishing with four points (2G, 2A) in six games. Lara Christen and Andrea Brändli were the other top players for Switzerland.

Germany F Laura Kluge – Kluge assisted on Nix's tying goal and finished the game with 22:22 ice time, most among German forwards. She was also named one of Germany's top players of the tournament, finishing with five points (2G, 3A) and a plus-4, including two game-winning goals. Carina Strobel and Sandra Abstreiter were the other top performers for Germany; no surprise there. (Strobel played a whopping 27:27 in Saturday's game).


"We had to shorten our bench a fair amount, but the girls, they amaze me. Every tournament, they show up and they battle, they compete at this high level. I thought this year, they did a pretty good job, even though we didn't win any games during the qualification... We have things we have to do better, and we have to improve our physical conditioning." – Switzerland head coach Collin Muller

"We had a tough time today, but it's always like that. Whether we're happier this year, I'm not so sure. I think we've got a lot of work in front of us. Whether it's good to play in the top group next year or the second group, I'm not really sure anymore." – Coach Muller

"To compete at a top level over two weeks, you need depth and you need strength, and at the moment, we just don't have that." – Coach Muller

"It was a tight game, it could go either way. When I had to go in, I didn't have any time to think about it." – Switzerland G Saskia Maurer

"We were fighting the whole game. It was a tough game. In the end, it was just one goal, so I think we can be proud of us. The whole game, I think we were as good as Switzerland." – Germany F Emily Nix

"She's a fantastic goalie. We're all really proud of her; we can trust her. She's always there, she's always calm." – Nix on Abstreiter

"It was a good hockey game, if you're a fan of hockey. Both teams were fighting hard, battling hard. Overall, for us, it's a little bit down right now when we lose, but we're happy with how we played in the tournament." – Germany head coach Jeff MacLeod

"For us, it shows our team that we're there. We've got to do a little bit more, but we've shown that we can play with the top teams. A bounce here and there, we'd be able to win. I think it's good for the other teams to realize they've got another team that's knocking on the door." – MacLeod

"I'm just happy I can share this experience with her. It's really fun playing together and just having that connection." – Germany F Luisa Welcke on playing with twin sister Lilli Welcke

"We're all really proud of how our team showed up this tournament. We had a great tournament. We just have to learn from this experience and finish stronger next time, but it was a great tournament overall... Our hopes, of course, are to get to Group A, but I think we showed this tournament that we can play out there and our results were really close, so we can still shoot for that goal." – Luisa Welcke

USA 5, Finland 0

by Nicole Haase

Finland was the only team to score on the Americans in the preliminary rounds, but could not break through here in the quarterfinals. I've said it before covering the U18s, but it's always fascinating to me how much growth we can see from a team over the course of a couple of days in the tournament. USA has settled in and gotten better and that was on full display in this game. And Finland could not really keep up with the increased pace and relentless push the US put on. 

Laila Edwards tallied a hat trick. Her first was an absolute snipe on the power play and the second two came as she cleaned up rebounds on drives from Taylor Heise. Finland's inability to clog up the middle or prevent a player of Edwards' size from claiming space in front of the net proved costly. 

Abbey Murphy and Tessa Janecke paired up well against Japan in the quarterfinal and their third linemate, Hannah Bilka, got in on the action to open the scoring. A turnover led to a Murphy and Janecke rush and Bilka cleaned up the rebound. Savannah Harmon rounded out the scoring with a blast from the blue line to give the US a 5-0 win and berth in the gold medal game.

What We Learned

  • Abundance – Laila Edwards and Joy Dunne were on the projected line sheets as the 13th and 14th forwards – the incomplete 5th line. And then Edwards scored a hat trick. We know there’s an embarrassment of riches, but to have it show so clearly has to have American fans excited. There seems to be a very clear plan from the staff about how to nurture and develop the collegiate players which is what has me excited about what we’re seeing and hearing. There's this big storyline and divide of young versus old, veterans versus less experienced players, but this plan as well as the PWHL feels like it will help bridge a gap and make it so the talent is continuously good in the program.
  • Pick it up – Finland's coach Juuso Toivola said that no matter how much they prepared, they couldn't match the US speed. He didn't want to make excuses, but pointed out the difference in rink sizes that North American and European players play on and how he'd like to see that be standardized. It makes it difficult for his team to really be prepared and with the speed of the North American game, when they have bigger ice, it just gives them even more room to motor right on past. It's an interesting thought, if nothing else. 
  • Value of games – There are people that think games like the United States' big quarterfinal win over Japan are pointless, but in a situation where teams don't get a lot of time together, that game proved to be important for the Americans to try out different line combinations and it lead to Abbey Murphy, Hannah Bilka and Tessa Janecke starting this game together. 

Standout Performances

  • USA F Taylor Heise – Laila Edwards hat trick will be the headline, but Taylor Heise set her up and has been a great complement to her. Heise was toe-dragging, moving around defenders and basically being the star we already knew she was and Edwards was there to clean up the rebound. 
  • USA F Laila Edwards – When she got her first call up during the Rivalry Series, John Wroblewski emphasized that he and his staff have a long term plan for her development and they don’t want to rush her or have her feel uncomfortable. So it was something of a surprise she was named to this team. There's still a ton of room for her to grow and she's got to be a more consistent player away from the puck or in pursuit of the puck, but with a hat trick in the semifinal, it's clear she's got what it takes to make this team for years to come. Edwards was listed as an extra F for this game, but played herself into more time. 
  • Finland D Jenni Hiirikoski  – Unsurprisingly, Hiirikoski was the work horse in this game. She tied for the team lead in shots, had the most time on ice and in a game where Finland failed to mount much of anything, she was a noticeable presence all over the ice. It's not a surprise, but it is still noteworthy that for yet another year, she is kicking butt, taking names and making us all wonder how she does it. She plays with a deadly calm that is as effective as it is intimidating and we're all lucky she continues to grace us with her presence on the ice. 


"She's such a fun person and someone that we all enjoy being around. She’s definitely a +1 for our team. She played like a veteran. She stepped up in a way that not a lot of people can. She brings the energy and tries to find herself in different games. Anytime she puts a shot on net, she's got a 70-mile-an-hour shot right off the bat. I tell her, Anytime you can shoot, you should shoot." – USA F Taylor Heise on Laila Edwards

"When we forecheck, we're almost unbeatable." – Heise 

"I was so nervous and just really wanted to win. I'm just super excited. We won regardless of how many goals I had. Now we're guaranteed that gold medal game and I'm confident in our team so now we bring our A game. Don't take them lightly, whoever you play in the finals. Being the number one seed is great, but it doesn't mean anything with that puck drops tomorrow." – USA F Laila Edwards

"Her puck work, her IQ, to play with her at this level is unbelievable. She plays 200 feet and that's another thing that's really inspiring to me, she forechecks and backchecks, she does it all. So to play with her at this level, I'm very honored." – Edwards on playing with Heise

"She's a pretty amazing human being. For her, she's very humble no matter what happens. I don't care when she had the Player of the Game in the locker room and someone threw this big USA hat on the ice, she put that on. She doesn't care about her personality, like she just wants us to win and she's here for a reason. I'm glad that she could prove that to herself because sometimes when you're young and you get picked for a team like this, sometimes it takes a goal like that to prove to yourself that you're here for a reason, but we all knew that before. She is such a funny person. It's something that we all enjoy being around so she's definitely a plus one for our team." – Heise on Edwards 

"We haven't had a ton of practice as a team. Since we've been here, it's been a lot of games in a short amount of time, but we call it the golden line – two or three feet inside the blue line, two or three feet outside the blue line. Using that space, the first and second [period] we had some bad turnovers there, but we figured it out and got to it. We took advantage of that golden line and that's what helped us win today." – Heise

"It's unbelievable, this environment. I can't get over how many times the USA chant rolls out and you feel it on the bench every time. It's almost like having an extra attacker at times." – USA coach John Wroblewski

"I don't think it's whether or not our players can play at this pace. It's: can they combine their skill at that pace and intensity this early? That's the question that is not easy to answer. We haven't shown that we're able to combine our pace and then match up with our skill and finishing ability. I'm very confident down the road that will happen. The earlier the better would be best for the United States." – Wroblewski

"Being able to drive pace five-on-five, that's a key indicator of our teams that were able to get out in open ice and start our forecheck. The winner of the special teams battle. Sharpness on faceoffs. And of course goaltending." – Wroblewski on what his team will need to do to win a gold medal

"You could tell the Finns were so proud and did everything they possibly could – they wanted to win that game. The way to do that was to keep the puck out of the net. They knew that was their first job. They came out and were unbelievable at preventing us from having anything for free." – Wroblewski on Finland

"We are not happy with the final score. Absolutely not. After two periods, it's only 2-0 for USA. They were so ready for the game and we couldn't answer back. We fought it, but it wasn't enough today." – Finland coach Juuso Toivola

Canada 4, Czechia 0

by Melissa Burgess

To absolutely no one's surprise, it'll once again be Canada and the United States vying for the gold medal at Women's World Championships. Canada handily defeated what looked like a tired Czechia team on Saturday night, powered largely by their secondary scoring.

Blayre Turnbull, Canada's third-line center, opened the scoring on just their second shot of the game. She picked up a pass from Laura Stacey while left alone in the slot and fired a shot to beat Klára Peslarová. Czechia seemed to lag, recording just one shot on goal in the first 10 minutes and six in the opening two periods. Even when Tereza Vanišová had what could've been a great opportunity alone in the first period, she didn't drive to the net and seemed to just give up on the play instead. Jocelyne Larocque added to Canada's total late in the first, crashing the net and picking up the puck from Emily Clark to fling it in.

Once again, Canada came out of the gate ready to rock, and Emily Clark quickly made it 3-0 amid a logjam of players in front of the net early in the second period. Although Canada kept pushing, Peslarová did a good job of keeping the game somewhat close. She made some big saves, but at the same time, there were some that she should've had and didn't. Case in point: Canada's fourth goal. Sarah Fillier tipped in a shot from Renata Fast early in the third period, pushing the puck slowly through the five-hole.

Canada nearly doubled its shot total in the third period, with 23 shots on goal in the final frame, and outshot Czechia by a 47-9 margin overall. Now, it's a quick turnaround for both teams, as Czechia faces Finland in Sunday's bronze medal game (1:00 PM Eastern US time) and Canada and the United States square off in the gold medal game (5:00 PM Eastern US time).

What We Learned

  • Canada has serious speed – We knew they were fast, but watching them against Czechia, they just seemed to have that extra edge. They skate fast, they keep the puck moving well and make a lot of nifty plays to either keep the puck alive or hand it off to a teammate. I decided to watch some of this game from the stands, which gave me a different view to see how Canada sets its plays up, and their speed definitely stood out.
  • Czechia's top players of the tournament: Klára Peslarová (3-3, 2 shutouts, 2.67 GAA, .9175 sv%), Aneta Tejralová (1-2-3, +1, avg. 22:30), Klára Hymlárová (1-2-3, +4, avg. 17:36)
  • Canada's top players of the tournament: Ann-Renée Desbiens (3-1, 2 shutouts, 0.49 GAA & .9765 sv %), Renata Fast (3-2-5, +13, avg. 21:59), Kristin O'Neill (2-3-5, +7, avg. 11:52)

Standout performances

Czechia G Klára Peslarová – Peslarová is the lone Czechia goaltender to play at Worlds this year. The workload hasn't been light, but she's been up to the task. She made 43 saves in Saturday's loss and has 178 on the tournament, good for a 2.67 GAA and .9175 save percentage. They'll certainly call upon her once more for Sunday's bronze medal match.

Canada F Emily Clark – Clark had a goal and an assist in the semifinal game despite playing only 13:23. These were actually her first points of the tournament, and she contributed offensively when it mattered most to help Canada reach yet another gold medal game.

Canada D Jocelyne Larocque – Larocque had a goal and an assist and led all Canadian skaters with 22:12. It's easy to see why she's one of not only Canada's top defenders, but their top players overall. She spoke postgame about being able to contribute both offensively and defensively, and the two-way aspect of her game has certainly been evident in Utica. Heading into the final day, she leads Canada with five points, including four assists, and is a whopping plus-15 while averaging 22:21 ice time per game.


"We want to start the game better than the last game, and we proved to ourselves that we can play even games with the North American teams. Our performance wasn't bad at all; we performed really well, and we showed everyone that we can play with them." – Czechia G Klára Peslarová

"We're getting better each tournament. During the year, we're never playing against those teams [like Canada]. We always meet them here, so it's tough to get on their level. We prepare the best we can, and once we come here, we're trying to prove ourselves that we're on the level with them and we can play with them. I think each tournament we're getting better." – Peslarová

"The gap is getting closer each year… I’m really looking forward to next season where the group is going to be split and each team has a possibility to play with these teams, because they deserve it." – Peslarová (it isn't official yet that the groups will be split, but she's right to say it)

"We are developing each year. This team worked so hard the whole year… I don't want to say, like, we deserve it [the bronze medal], but we do." – Peslarová

"The way Troy and the other coaches coach is kind of, five players [are] interchangeable. There is some structure, but it’s a lot of creativity and it's a lot of just trying to jump in open space, supporting your teammates, whether that's up high or down low." – Canada D Jocelyne Larocque

"The game has evolved. I don’t think you could play at this level and just be a defensive defenseman. I take the D side of the game very seriously and take a lot of pride in that, but I also feel that I can contribute offensively. I find that I’m more of a complete player now, and I have Troy and the coaches to thank for that, because they've definitely challenged me to jump when I should and see those openings when I do." – Larocque

"We have to come out with a stronger start. From there, just getting pucks behind their D, crashing the net and just doing all the simple things, like getting pucks out, blocking shots, coming down low on the back check… just all those simple things, but a better start definitely is what we’re focusing on." – Larocque on what Canada needs to do in the gold medal game

"This group is so special. The players and staff, the character is just so incredible. I feel so honored not only to wear the maple leaf, but to be a part of such a special group… I know everyone's going to be working hard for each other, because there's so much love in the room and so much character. I just feel honored to be a part of this group." – Larocque on what winning a gold medal in her 10th World Championships would mean to her

(Photo: IIHF)