MYHockey News

It's Semifinal Saturday at the WWC

By Scott Lowe –

Many people may not have noticed, but there has been a changing of the guard in women’s international ice hockey.

The change hasn’t come at the very top of the competitive pyramid, however, so that’s why it hasn’t been as noticeable. Finland, long considered the third-best women’s team in the world – and by a pretty wide margin – has missed out on advancing to the semifinals at the Women’s World Championship for the second straight year.

After upsetting Canada at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Foundation World Championship in their home nation, the Finns appeared ready to challenge the United States and Canada for international supremacy on an annual basis. But fast forward four years, and they seem to be regressing while nations such as Czechia and Switzerland continue to improve. Finland had participated in the semifinals in 20 of 21 championships prior to last year, claiming 13 bronze and one silver medal in the process. 

Finland still has a chance to return to Pool A, in which all five teams are guaranteed advancing to the quarterfinals, in 2024 after rolling through Group B undefeated this year. The Finns advanced to Sunday’s fifth-place game vs. arch-rival Sweden with an 8-2 victory over Germany after falling to Czechia, 2-1, in the quarterfinals. Sweden shut out Japan, 1-0, to advance to the fifth-place contest on the strength of Emma Soderberg’s 23-save shutout.

Japan finishes seventh and will drop back down to Group B in 2024. The top-three finishers in Group B next year move on to the quarterfinals. 

The Czechs and Swiss have advanced to the semifinals for the second straight year, and while they aren’t quite at the level of the 2019 Finns at this point, their continued emergence signals a stronger and deeper WWC field in the years to come. Sweden’s return to the tournament after a recent year of relegation also is encouraging. The Swedes took Canada to the brink in a 3-2 overtime quarterfinal loss in which Soderberg made an incredible 51 saves.

So, after all the smoke has cleared, it’s Semifinal Saturday at the WWC in Brampton, Ontario, with the United States taking on the Czechia at noon Eastern and Canada facing off vs. the Swiss at 4 p.m. at CAA Centre. The U.S. and Canada have met for the gold medal in 20 of 21 World Championship tournaments.

Czechia put up a strong fight against both the U.S. and Canada in the preliminary round, falling to the Americans, 6-2, and Canada, 5-1. The Czechs were tied at 2 after one period vs. the U.S. and trailed, 4-2, after two. They were down 2-1 after 1 and 3-1 after 2 vs. the Canadians.

Czechia actually led, 2-1, on goals by Denisa Krizova and Sara Cajanova in the first period of the preliminary-round matchup with the United States before Hayley Scamurra, Lacey Eden and Tessa Janecke scored in a 15-minute span to push the Americans in front, 4-2, after 2. Hilary Knight and Abby Roque added third-period goals, with Aerin Frankel making 22 saves to earn the win in goal.

The Swiss did not fare as well vs. the top-two teams in the world, falling to the U.S., 9-1, and Canada, 4-0, in the opening round. Natalie Spooner, Sarah Nurse, Rebecca Johnston and Sarah Fillier scored for Canada in the opening-round win over Switzerland, while Ann-Renee Desbiens recorded a 12-save shutout.

Czechia defeated Switzerland, 5-2, in their preliminary-round matchup, with five different players recording goals and Blanka Skodova making 12 saves.


USA vs. Czechia – 12:00 p.m. ET at CAA Centre

TV/Streaming: NHL Network, TSN, RDS

The U.S. won the first meeting in the preliminary round, 6-2, after trailing 2-1 in the first period. Defender Caroline Harvey continues to lead a balanced American attack with 2 goals and 6 assists through five games. Taylor Heise has added 1-7-8, with Roque contributing 2-5-7 while Knight and Abbey Murphy each have 3-3-6. Alex Carpenter also has 6 points on 2 goals and 4 assists. Frankel leads all goalies with a .944 save percentage and a 1.23 goals-against average. Oddly, the Czechs do not have a single player among the tournament’s top-30 overall scorers, but Natalie Mlynkova and Katerina Mrazova each have a pair of goals in the tournament. Blanka Skodova has a 2.97 GAA and a .889 save percentage. The U.S. is second among the field in goals scored with 28, but first-place Finland has played one more game, and the Americans have the tournament’s top power play (43.75 percent). They are third on the penalty kill at 88 percent and fourth in team save percentage (.923). Czechia has only scored 12 goals and converted on three of 21 power-play opportunities (14.3 percent) while ranking first in penalty killing with a perfect 16-for-16 showing. The Czech goalies are seventh with a .896 save percentage.


Canada vs. Switzerland – 4:00 p.m. ET at CAA Centre

TV/Streaming: NHL Network, TSN, RDS

Canada cruised to a 4-0 victory when the teams met earlier in the tournament, with four different players scoring and Desbiens notching the 12-save shutout. Princeton University standout Sarah Fillier has solidified herself as the next likely Canadian superstar with another strong performance. She leads the team with 4 goals and 4 assists, followed by Blayre Turnbull with 2-4-6 and Marie-Philip Poulin with 3-2-5. Desbiens is second in the tournament with a .929 save percentage, while teammate Emerance Maschmeyer leads the way with a 0.96 goals-against average. Desbien’s 1.30 GAA ranks third overall. Together they are third in the tourney at .926 and first with a 1.16 GAA. Switzlerland has two of the top forwards in the world in Lara Stadler and Alina Muller, and they have not disappointed. Stadler has 3-7-10 to rank among the top-five scorers at the WWC, and Muller has 3-5-8. Andrea Braendli, who has played for Ohio State and Boston University, has appeared in all five games for the Swiss, posting a .919 save percentage and 2.67 GAA. Canada has scored 21 goals in the tournament to rank third, while the Swiss have recorded just 12. The Canadians are sixth on the power play at 20.83 percent. Switzerland is fourth at 28.6 percent. Canada has killed 19 of the 21 shorthanded situations it has faced (89.47 percent) to rank second, with the Swiss ranking seventh at 61.1 percent. Switzerland’s goalies rank eighth overall with a .883 save percentage, but the team’s 4.40 GAA is second to last among the field.


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