2024 Worlds Game Preview: USA vs Switzerland

Team USA begins their hunt for a repeat IIHF Women's World Championship gold medal tonight against Switzerland.

2024 Worlds Game Preview: USA vs Switzerland
Team USA players celebrate a goal against Switzerland during the 2023 Worlds. Photo courtesy of the IIHF.

Team USA begins their title defense tonight when they take on Switzerland during the first day of the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship.

The Basics: Wednesday, April 3, 2024- USA vs Switzerland- 7 p.m. EDT, Adirondack Bank Center, Utica, NY (NHL Network, TSN3, TSN5)

What to Expect

Team USA players celebrate a goal against Switzerland with a group hug. Two are already in the hug, while two others skate from the left to join and one from the right. They're all wearing white USA uniforms.
Team USA players celebrate a goal against Switzerland with a group hug. Photo courtesy of the IIHF.

The United States enters this tournament with a great chance to ride its young, speedy roster to a repeat gold medal. They’ll be looking to start the title defense off on a strong note tonight against a very young, albeit experienced, Switzerland team, who they beat the wheels off of in group play the past two tournaments (9-1 in 2023 and 9-0 in 2022). 

Meanwhile, Switzerland enters the tournament hoping not just to extend their three-tournament streak of making the bronze medal game but to claim a medal for the first time since 2012. They have another rude start to the tournament, with their first two games against the U.S. and Canada for the second straight year. That said, they’ll be hoping to start this tournament with another solid performance like last year (a 4-0 loss to Canada).

In goal, expect Andrea Brändli for Switzerland. She had an excellent season with MoDo over in the SDHL, posting a 16-9-0 record and 1.62 GAA and 0.937 SV%. So, there’s no reason to believe she won’t continue to be Switzerland’s number-one goaltender after cementing herself in that role with a stellar tournament last year. She faces an extremely tough test against the US, but she’s probably their best hope of at least not getting completely blown out like they did last year.

As for the United States, my best guess is it’ll be Aerin Frankel since it’s the first game. She’s been the U.S.’s number one lately and that will likely continue into this tournament. She has been stellar for a rocky PWHL Boston team this season, going 3-2-2-6 with a 2.08 GAA and 0.927 SV%.

However, the Swiss are, on paper, the weakest team in Group A, which typically lends itself to the backup goaltender getting the start, which for the U.S. is Nicole Hensley again. Hensley faced the Swiss last year, and she has been phenomenal for an excellent PWHL Minnesota team, with a 3-3-1-3 record, 1.79 GAA, and 0.933 SV%.

That said, since both U.S. goaltenders are outstanding, there’s no cause for concern about starting either of them in any of the games (especially ones not against Canada). So, I lean towards the U.S. starting Frankel tonight to let her get her feet wet early. 

USA Key to the Game

Alina Müller skates with the puck as Taylor Heise tries to catch her. Heise's stick is outstretched as she goes to defend. Müller is in a red uniform, while Heise is in white.
Alina Müller skates with the puck as Taylor Heise tries to defend. Photo courtesy of the IIHF.

Don’t underestimate the opponent. Team USA may have annihilated Switzerland in recent years, but that doesn’t mean they should come into this game thinking it’s an easy win. The Swiss have been able to keep things relatively close with Canada recently, and they’ll be motivated to break the streak of blowout losses to the Americans. Sure, the U.S. is the clear favorite to win this one, but there’s enough experience on the Swiss roster to keep things interesting, especially if the U.S. underestimates them and doesn’t come ready to play.

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