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2022 Worlds: Recapping the final day preliminary play

The last day of preliminary play was full of excitement.

IIHF

The final day of preliminaries was a big one. Coming into the day of play, multiple teams held their own fate in their hands. Let’s see how the exciting day of play shook out.

Finland beats Switzerland, 4-0

Group A
Simon Hopkins

Finland triumphed over Switzerland Tuesday morning in a battle for third place. A 4-0 victory saw Finland take that spot, with Switzerland ending the group stage in fourth. Both will qualify for the quarterfinals.

Switzerland played the game without many of its top stars. Muller, Stalder, Wetli, and others missed the matchup. It is unknown at this time why the players were missing. In the best-case scenario, they’re resting ahead of the elimination games; the worst-case scenario is something more long-term like COVID or an injury.

The disparity between the two teams showed, and Finland ran the game from the start in mirror to Switzerland’s last game. The Swiss lost the day before to a dominant American team 9-0. The tired and shorthanded Swiss side struggled to chase the puck as the fins flew around.

Finland doesn’t possess the same raw offensive power as the Americans, but they have some of the best technical skills of any team in the tournament. Players like Michelle Karvinen thrived in the game. Karvinen has elite puck protection skills, and she put them on display, carving back and forth, holding the puck from Swiss defenders. This was especially present in the second period when she and the Finns allowed just one Swiss shot against.

Finland opened the game with two early goals from Susanna Tapani and Elisa Holopainen. The Swiss were lucky to get out of the period, only behind by two. Switzerland was pinned in their own end for almost the entirety of the period, with the Finns outshooting 16-2.

An early Swiss penalty in the second gave the Fins momentum, and they converted with a third shortly after the powerplay ended right at the game’s halfway mark. Between tired legs, the missing players, and constant Finnish powerplays, the Swiss were doing all they could to keep the puck out the back of the net. Saskia Maurer came in for Brändli at the 30-minute mark. Maurer has played exceptionally well in two exceptionally challenging situations. Both the second half of the USA and Finnish games saw here face a powerful offence behind a tired defence.

To make matters worse, two Swiss players were hurt and laboured off the ice. Laura Zimmerman and Kaleigh Quennec looked in substantial discomfort at different points of the period. Finland scored one more to end the period on another power play.

Somehow, the Swiss kept the puck out of the net in the third period. Maurer was great, and the Swiss defenders kept Finland to the outside. The puck possession still favoured the Fins, who held the puck without end. Two Finnish penalties gave Switzerland some relief. They failed to record a shot on one of the powerplays but play, for the first time in the game, stayed in the Finnish end for an extended period. Switzerland managed three shots on the period.

The Swiss still showed their grit and dedication to a cohesive strategy. With the return of key players, they still stand a good chance to make a run in the elimination round. Maurer shined again today - we’ll see who starts for the Swiss in the quarterfinals.

USA beat Canada, 5-2

Group A
Holly Morrison

Team USA handed Team Canada their first loss of the tournament, winning decisively 5-2.

For the first 20 minutes, it seemed like Canada had another win in the bag. Instead, it was the Americans who came storming back to go undefeated in the preliminary rounds to claim first place in Group A and set themselves a date with Team Hungary in the quarterfinals.

It was the young guns who got things started for Canada with Sarah Fillier opening the scoring early in the first.

With just a few minutes left in the first period, Team USA’s Kelly Pannek took a costly penalty for roughing. They were less than 30 seconds away from killing it off when a net-front scramble saw Ella Shelton batting the puck into the net, putting the Canadians up 2-0.

This could have spelled disaster for Team USA, but Canada had their own mistakes to make in the second.

Mikkelson took a hooking penalty early in the second period, and in a not-too-shocking bit of “yeah, well how do you like it,” Canada was less than 30 seconds away from a successful penalty kill when Megan Keller’s shot from right out front gave Team USA their first goal of the game. The IIHF credits Keller with the goal, but it might have deflected off Ashton Bell in front of the net. Either way, the Americans were back in the game.

It was all Team USA from that moment forward. Kelly Pannek scored to tie the game just after the halfway mark of the second period. Then Lacey Eden, with a shot so clean that she made it look easy, scored the go-ahead goal early in the third.

Kendall Coyne Schofield scored just after the halfway mark to put Team USA up 4-2 and Hilary Knight finished things off with an empty net goal with 54 seconds left in the game.

It was a tale of two creases for Nicole Hensley and Emerance Maschmeyer, in net for Team USA and Team Canada respectively. Maschmeyer started strong and then allowed some costly goals, whereas Hensley started shaky and got stronger as the game progressed. With two teams that (when they’re not stapling their young players to the bench), can be so evenly matched, consistently strong goaltending can make the difference, and it did today.

This game was probably always going to determine which of Canada or the USA would take first place in the group. Both teams were undefeated coming into the game. Both were looking for a more advantageous matchup in the quarterfinal.

Canada will now play Sweden, who came second in Group B, while Team USA will take on Hungary, who went 1-3 and came in third in the group.

Czechia beat Sweden, 3-0

Group B

The top two teams in Group B battled it out to see who would take the first and second seed. Sweden needed to win in regulation to take the top seed, but alas it wouldn’t be as Czechia blanked them.

IIHF RECAP

Germany beat Denmark, 3-2

Group B

Wowowowza! So let’s set the scene here: Denmark holds their fate in their hands. They have three points from a single win. Their opponent, Germany, has one point from going to overtime once. Denmark needed a point in any manner - a regulation win or going to overtime - to move into third place and move on. Germany, on the other, could only avoid relegation with a regulation win. That scenario would also push Denmark down to fifth place in Group B and relegate them for the next tournament cycle.

Denmark’s Josefine Persson struck first about five minutes into the first period, but Germany’s Franziska Feldmeier wouldn’t be stopped and scored on the power play just over three minutes later. Denmark’s Emma Russell gave them the lead in the second period. But Germany once again said, not so fast, when Laura Kluge scored with about four minutes left in the third period.

Shortly after, Germany pulled their goaltender to gain the extra skater and it paid off. With just 1 second left in the game Tanja Eisencschmid score the game winning goal!

IIHF RECAP