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2019 Worlds Recap: Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan

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These four teams finished fifth through eighth in the 2019 World Championship

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 11 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Japan all advanced to the quarterfinal stage but fell short of medal contention. Except for the ninth-place game between Sweden and France, there was no consolation bracket to determine final placing. Instead, the final ranking for teams five through eight was determined by, according to the IIHF, “1. the tiered group they played in (A/B), 2. their position within the group, 3. their preliminary-round record (1. points, 2. goal difference, 3. goals scored).”

Switzerland

Tournament Finish: 5th place; lost to Russia 3-0 in the quarterfinals

Record: 0-0-0-5

Recap: The Swiss had a tough go of it in Group A. They were overmatched by the United States, Canada, and Finland, getting outscored 20-2 in those three games. They gave up the most shots on goal in the tournament with 242, and lacked the depth to truly compete with those three teams. Switzerland kept things closer against Russia in the preliminary round, losing 2-1, but had trouble sustaining much against the Russians in the quarterfinal game. Unfortunately for the Swiss, they were without one of their most dominant players, Lara Stalder, for the duration of the tournament. No Group B team advanced past the quarterfinals either, so Switzerland will remain in Group A for the 2020 World Championship.

Stick taps: Goaltender Andrea Brändli turned in some great performances despite the blowouts and made 127 saves in three games, an average of about 42 saves per game. Her goaltending partner, Janine Alder, made 90 saves in two appearances.

Losing an edge: Switzerland was the only team in the tournament that couldn’t come away with a win.

Czech Republic

Tournament Finish: 6th place; lost to Finland 3-1 in the quarterfinals

Record: 4-0-0-1

Recap: This was an excellent tournament for the Czech Republic, who have held strong at the top level for the past three tournaments and earned their best finish this year. They won Group B and finished sixth out of 10 teams; in 2016, they finished sixth out of eight teams, so this is a marked improvement for the group. They went undefeated in group play, holding their opponents to one goal or less in three out of four games. And the Czech Republic put up a really strong fight in that quarterfinal game against Finland, scoring first against the Finns and holding them to just three goals. Goaltender Klara Peslarová finished with 40 saves.

Stick taps: In their final game in the preliminary round, the Czechs turned in an outstanding performance against Germany to seal the deal and win Group B. They shut out Germany, 2-0, and outshot the Germans 37-10.

Losing an edge: Special teams hurt the Czech Republic a bit in this tournament, especially in that semifinal game. Two of Finland’s three goals were on the power play. The Czechs finished the tournament with a 68.75% success rate on the penalty kill, which ranked eighth.

Germany

Tournament Finish: 7th place; lost to Canada 5-0 in the quarterfinals

Record: 1-1-1-2

Recap: Germany had a nice World Championship and enjoyed a particularly good start to Group B play. They finished a few spots behind their historic fourth-place finish at the 2017 Worlds, but this was still a good tournament for a team in a bit of a transition. It was the first World Championship for head coach Christian Künast, who took up the reins in January. He wanted to implement a more aggressive, confident style, and that seemed to pay off as the Germans took down Sweden in a shootout and then defeated Japan, 3-2. They finished second in Group B and showed once again they’ve got potential as a program.

Stick taps: Jennifer Harß is no stranger to outstanding performances in net and she certainly turned in a few of those this tournament. She finished third out of all goaltenders with a .935 save percentage despite facing 170 shots on goal. In those wins against Sweden and Japan, she combined for 79 saves.

Losing an edge: Despite a great start to the tournament, Germany dropped their last three games, including an overtime loss to France and a shutout loss to the Czech Republic in group play.

Japan

Tournament Finish: 8th place; lost to the United States 4-0 in the quarterfinals

Record: 2-0-0-3

Recap: Like the Czech Republic and Germany, Japan’s effort in this tournament showed lots of signs of improvement already, and good reason to believe more growth is on the horizon. They avoided relegation by knocking off Sweden in the final game of round-robin play, then turned in a really strong defensive performance against Team USA in the quarterfinals. The final score was 4-0, but it was only a 1-0 game after one period and a 2-0 game going into the third period. Skill-wise, the Japanese aren’t quite there yet, but they certainly play a structured brand of hockey. It’ll be exciting to see them build off of that and how far they can take things in the future.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 11 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Stick taps: In that final game against Sweden, Japan trailed the Swedes by one point in the Group B standings, so they needed a win to avoid relegation and advance to the quarterfinals. They got one in comeback fashion in the third period. Trailing 2-1 with 9:50 left, Akane Shiga scored on the power play to even the score, and in the final two minutes of the game, Ayaka Toko scored another power-play goal to give Japan the win.

Losing an edge: Japan didn’t have a ton of low moments this tournament, but it’s a little bit of a shame they couldn’t find the back of the net against Team USA, especially early on when it was still a one-goal game. With the way Nana Fujimoto was playing in net, it would have made things very interesting.