The third semifinal will see two European team match up with Finland and Czechia facing off at 11:30 a.m. eastern.
Finland had an up-and-down round-robin series. Injuries and absences hurt them, and they dropped their first two to Canada and the United States. In a roaring return, they scored nine against Japan, but defence faltered, allowing three. They finished strong with a decisive win over Switzerland. All three goaltenders have had game time and played well. Czechia was the standout team in group B. They were undefeated and outscored their opponents 21 – 2. Everything has clicked for this team, but the Finns will be a big test. Finland’s technical skills and speed will be at a higher level than the Czechs have faced all tournameCzechia’sia’s impressive depth this tournament will be seriously put to the test.
Player to Watch
Elisa Holopainen leads the Finnish team in scoring thus far. She is not afraid to carry the puck right up the middle of the ice, closing in on defenders and goalies with frightening speed. Even though she is fast, she is patient with the puck. She can hold onto it for just enough time to convince goalies to bite for her bait. Holopainen will be an enormous threat in this game.
If Czechia is to pull off an upset in this game, it will rest on the shoulders of goaltending. If anyone is fit for that role, it’s Klára Peslarová. In four preliminary round games, she allowed just two goals. Czechia didn’t allow many chances, but her performance was still good enough for a .961 save percentage. She is a top performer in the SDHL, making her no stranger to facing top-level talent. She might just have what it takes to pull off the upset.
Jenni Hiirikoski and Michelle Karvinen have been two mainstays of international women’s hockey for over a decade. Hiirikoski is a smooth skating, playmaking defender and Karvinen a technically skilled forward with the best puck protection skills to grace international hockey in the last decade. Both players can set records in their upcoming games. Hiirikoski is the all-time leader in games played, and tomorrow, she will the first player to ever 80 women’s world championship games, and with a deep run, Karvinen could move up to 6th on this list. Karvinen is tied in 10th with Cammi Granato and Julie Chu for all-time assists with 34. One more, and Karvinen will tie Hilary Knight and Riikka Sallinen in the top 10. Hiirikoski is tied for the most points of all time as a defender, and with one more, she will become the highest-ever scoring defender at the women’s world championships.
This is the best Czech team we have ever seen at this tournament. They are dedicated to their system and empowered to shoot the puck. Czechia has never been to group A, but this is their chance to make it. They were the best team in group B, and it is time for them to play for a spot in group A. The squad is ready for the challenge of tougher teams. A win over Finland would see them promoted, but even in a loss, they could still challenge for the spot in placement games.