2022 Worlds: Switzerland defeat Japan on Day 2

Switzerland top the determined Japanese team

Day 2 of the 2022 IIHF World Championships saw only two games - one in Group A and one in Group B

Switzerland beat Japan, 3-1

Group A

Switzerland defeated Japan 3-1 on Friday afternoon in a Group a preliminary game of the Women’s World Hockey Championships.

The game was Switzerland’s first of the tournament. Andrea Brändli started in the net for the Swiss side as expected. Japan was playing their second game in two days after falling to the United States 10 nothing on Thursday. Goaltender Miyuu Masuhara, who came into relief for Japan in that loss, got her first start.

Out of the gate, Switzerland dominated play. They controlled puck possession and passed with clarity keeping it out of reach of the Japanese players. To compensate for the discrepancy in technical skill, the Japanese players used smart positioning to slow Swiss attacks through the neutral zone and keep offensive possession to the outside.

Japan’s penalty kill was busy for eight minutes through the first period, but the Swiss failed to break through, and the first period ended in a scoreless draw. Swiss shots largely came to the outside, and Masuhara calmly collected and redirected everything.

Early in the second, Japan was beginning to assert some strength but took another early penalty. The Swiss pressure was intense and continued past the end of the powerplay. Switzerland broke the stalemate seven minutes into the period as the top line continued to show its dominance. Alina Müller held the puck at the point, drawing all the attention to herself. She skated to her right and faked a shot that all the defenders and goaltender bit on. She slid the puck to her left to a waiting Lara Stalder, who one-timed it into the back of the net.

The Swiss goal put some pep in Japan’s step as the pace of play increased. Both Shiga sisters looked fantastic as the period went on, especially Akane Shiga flying around at both ends of the ice.

The second Swiss goal came quickly as a lucky bounce favoured the Swiss top line. Sinja Leemann poked at a puck after a defensive zone faceoff, and it ended up behind the net. Stalder came around the back of the net and centred it to an open Müller. The scrambling Swiss defence couldn’t switch sides quickly enough, and Müller banged the shot home for a two-goal lead.

In the third period of the game, tides began to shift slightly. Team Japan’s work ethic shone as Switzerland began to sit back. The Japanese were first to every loose puck and skated hard to every whistle without fail. It was an incredible display in the third period of a back-to-back game. Their speed and defensive challenges were unrelenting, which started to force turnovers.

Through the first two periods, Switzerland outshot the Japanese 17-10. In the third, Japan outshot the Swiss 7-3. The skill of the Swiss players was what kept them in it at the end. Stefanie Wetli went down on her stomach in a brilliant play to cut off the passing lane of a Japanese 2-on-1. Japan’s Ayaka Toko nearly scored with a hot shot that beat Brändli but hit the crossbar and bounced out.

Japan pulled their goalie with two minutes to play, but Laura Zimmerman quickly stole the puck and took it up the ice. She was taken down by two Swiss defenders desperately trying to save the goal, but Lena Lutz was there to put it in the empty net. Officially, the goal has been awarded to Zimmerman.

Playing to the whistle, Japan pulled their goalie again, and in the dying minutes, Akane Shiga scored with a pretty one-timer assisted by her sister, Aoi.

As the buzzer sounded, Japanese captain Shiori Koike threw her body into two attacking Swiss players to prevent a last-second chance. She got tangled and appeared to hurt her leg. She needed help getting off the ice before being seen to by trainers. Japan has tomorrow off before a bout with Canada on Sunday.

Goal Scorers:

Switzerland: Lara Stalder, Alina Muller, Lena Marie Lutz (EN)
Japan: Akane Shiga

Czechia beats Hungary, 7-1

Group B

Goal Scorers:

Czechia: Klara Hymlarova, Daniela Pejsova, Tereza Radova, Adela Sapovalivova, Natalie Mlynkova, Sapovalivova, Agata Sarnovska
Hungary: Alexandra Huszak