Switzerland over Japan 4-2
In the opening game of the Women's World Championships, last year's surprise team Japan took on Switzerland. These two teams are in the B pool, and this is the pool you will find the teams facing relegation in at the end of the event. The top two teams get a chance to get into the medal round by playing in the quarterfinals. This game was important to both teams, but especially Japan, who hope to stave off relegation.
The game featured NWHL goaltender Nana Fujimoto facing Switzerland's Florence Schelling who just came off the disappointing loss in the Riksserien with Linköping. Both excelled last year, and both had to be up for a tough game in the afternoon on opening day.
Switzerland opened the scoring on the power play, but Japan got the equalizer before the first period was over. The second period saw Switzerland take the lead on another power play. The shots on goal were almost even after the first, but Switzerland surged ahead in the second.
Two even-strength goals in the third for Switzerland sealed the deal. All Japan could manage was one more on the power play, and Schelling withstood the expected Japanese push to the end.
Toronto Furies defender Sena Suzuki was held pointless in the game, and had one shot on goal.
Many of the Swiss players are from the Swiss league champions, ZSC Lions, and they will surely be looking to add some more success to their year. A run for the bronze medal is not impossible, but it would be an upset.
HIGHLIGHTS: Switzerland starts the #WomensWorlds with a 4-2 win over Japan.https://t.co/L30K8KeoVh— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) 29 March 2016
Finland over Russia 5-3
This matchup of the third and fourth A pool teams is a preview of the most probable bronze medal game.
It was a tense but fast-paced game that was a much closer contest for the first two periods than the score suggests. Finland, who have finished third in this tournament most of the time, took the lead three times, and Russia kept battling back to tie it.
Russian, who have managed two bronze medals are a team on the way up, as they grow the sport back home, and develop their international game. They were very good at disrupting the Finnish offence, but not as gifted at forcing the play offensively.
At the end of two periods, the score was tied at 2. Seven minutes into the third, it was tied at 3 on a power play goal by Russia. But Russia had trouble getting that power play going, they were tied up in their own end for most of it, and that trouble blossomed into a period of total Finnish dominance in the third.
They took the game over totally, keeping the puck moving—not so expertly at times, there were some mad scrambles, but Russia's defensive disruption had deserted them. The Finns had 2 even-strength goals in under three minutes and that was the game. Shots on goal favoured the Finns by 28-25, but they won the game in the space of five minutes in the third.
If they play like that for a whole game, they're a force that can't be kept from bronze.
WATCH NOW: Group A of the #WomensWorlds begins with a tight Finnish victory against Russia.https://t.co/GfVbkKyR3U— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) 29 March 2016
Sweden over the Czech Republic 3-2
In the other B pool match, one time contender Sweden, who have fallen on hard times as Russia have risen in the rankings took on the newly promoted Czechs.
A scoreless first period saw the shots totals go in Sweden's favour, but the Czechs got the first goal halfway through in the second.
Sweden answered back with a shorthanded goal and then in the third added a power play goal in the opening minutes.
Almost a full period is a long time to hold a one-goal lead, and the Czechs proved that's true by tying it up 8 minutes in.
Sweden shocked the Czechs, and took the game with a goal with only 8 seconds left. This is a tough loss for a Czech team that were in the game until those final seconds. Final shots were 31-18 for the Czechs, and a big stick tap goes to Klara Peslarova who kept this game even in net for the Czechs.
The Swedish team is a mix of players from the Riksserien with no one team dominating, plus a couple of US College players. The Czechs are a mix from the Czech and Russian leagues and US college players. What both of these teams want is to finish in the top of the B pool and get that quarterfinal chance. Just like Switzerland and Japan.
HIGHLIGHTS: Sweden edges Czechs 3-2 to start the #WomensWorldshttps://t.co/CQTaFqzk15— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) 29 March 2016
USA over Canada 3-1
In the battle for first and second in the A Pool, Canada came up short on opening day.
For a full recap, Eyes on the Prize has you covered, do read, it's excellent.
WATCH the highlights from @USAHockey's #WomensWorlds opening day win against vs. host Canada (@HC_Women).https://t.co/DbcHwOCZlK— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) 29 March 2016