Canada - Finland
This is not going to be incisive factual analysis, it’s going to be emotional. I have not been following Team Canada and its exploits closely enough for long enough to be able to say with any authority what all of their mistakes have been over the years and I was not in detail-oriented recap mode while watching.
Going into this game, everyone knew Noora Räty was an elite-level goalie. Why coach Laura Schuler chose to start Emerance Maschmeyer against her and didn’t even dress Shannon Szabados may remain a question for the ages.
Canada never held the lead in this one, and Finland’s confidence in their abilities only grew with every goal they scored. Pulling Maschmeyer early in the second after Susanna Tapani scored the third Finnish goal was a mercy — not so much to Maschmeyer but to the team in front of her. It’s true that Canada seemed pretty disorganized for stretches of the second and third period, but Maschmeyer started things off by letting in three goals on eleven shots.
Petra Nieminen squeaks one past Maschmeyer on the powerplay pic.twitter.com/6YVSHNdbzO— Women's Hockey Gifs (@CWHLHighlights) April 2, 2017
In contrast, Geneviève Lacasse, who holds the dubious record of most saves in a CWHL season, let in only one goal on fifteen shots. Unfortunately, the timing on that one goal was terrible. With only 1:41 left in the game, Ronja Savolainen scored on Lacasse, winning the game for Finland.
Canada still does not seem to be clicking as a unit. One thing the US team did very right in their win on Friday was to use combinations of players who had already played together. There are 6 Calgary Inferno forwards on the team and their top three scorers have been split up. Ambrose and Fast regularly play as the top pair for the Furies and aren’t being played together enough. The two defenders from the Thunder are on different pairs. When your team only plays together a few times a year, these things matter.
High points - In the gif above, Erin Ambrose registered her first point at the senior World Championships. Her fellow rookies Sarah Potomak and Renata Fast were also impressive. Rebecca Johnston was a gem. That Natalie Spooner did not score was only by the grace of Noora Räty. And Marie-Philip Poulin continues to be Canadian, for which we are all very thankful.
Germany - Czech Republic
Drastically outshot 41-12 and clearly slower than the Czech team, the Germans still pulled off another win. With the help of goalie Ivonne Schroder, who did not start in Friday’s game, and team scoring leader Laura Kluge (1g, 1a), they have now guaranteed themselves a quarter final berth for the first time since 2013.
USA - Russia
Coach Robb Stauber delivered a surprise at the beginning of this one by starting 19-year-old Maddie Rooney, the USA’s third goaltender. It was her first game for Team USA at any level, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous to see her performance. The US came out strong, putting 12 shots on net the first period. They also took three sequential minor penalties, which meant Rooney’s abilities were tested early, and she was up to the task. With under two minutes to go, Amanda Kessel happened. She carried the puck in on a shorthanded rush, passed to Monique Lamoreux-Morando, and then dove after the rebound and put it in the open net. It was Kessel’s first goal for Team USA since the Sochi Olympics.
In the second period, the goals kept coming—first, Brianna Decker used her patented “zone-entry-via-skating-through-three-defenders” move on the rush, and sent the puck to Kendall Coyne for a goal. Then, Kessel found a wide-open Jocelyne Lamoreux-Davidson at the hash marks, and she had all day to line up her shot. The Americans’ speed and passing was too much for the Russians, who ended up doing things like, well, leaving Lamoreux-Davidson all alone in the faceoff circle.
The period ended with Lamoreux-Davidson scoring again on the power play. The second was the Russians’ best period, and they had a few good chances. Iya Gavrilova, in particular, forced Rooney to make nice saves at several points. Rooney was impressively calm, even in a couple hectic crease scrambles. In the third, the Americans added on three more goals, all from their top line—two from Decker, and another from Coyne. Hilary Knight picked up her first two points of the tournament as well, assisting on the first of the Decker goals and on Coyne’s. Rooney ended her first World Championships game with fourteen saves and a shutout win.
Switzerland - Sweden
The nets in rink two became a factor in a second consecutive day of competition. Swiss goalie Florence Schelling had a long chat with officials the first time her goal came off its moorings just over four and a half minutes into the game. Less than a minute later, Sweden scored a goal and the net came off again. The goal was deemed to have counted but there was a long delay as officials talked with both captains and the Swiss net was thoroughly inspected. The net came off several more times in the first period, but the issue seemed to have been fixed between first and second periods.
Nicole Bullo tied the game for Switzerland just over halfway through the second period. The game remained tied until Switzerland got into penalty trouble in the third period. First, Laura Benz was called for tripping, and 72 seconds into that penalty kill Livia Altmann went off for “holding an opponent”. Lisa Johansson needed less than ten seconds of the 5-on-3 power play to score the game-winning goal.
All extended highlight videos from the IIHF on vimeo.
Canada sits at the bottom of Group A with 0 points, but all is not lost. The worst a team in Group A can do is have to play a Quarter-Final game against a team from Group B and having watched Group B, that would not be a problem. It would be embarrassing for Canada, but they’d make the Semi-Finals. However, Canada still has a chance to get a bye to the Semi-Finals.
With six points and having already beaten Russia by many goals, the USA is on top of the standings and guaranteed a Semi-Final berth. Since Finland and Russia both have three points, the other bye to the Semi-Final is still very much up for grabs. In order for Canada to miss the bye regardless of the outcome of Monday’s game, Finland has to beat Team USA.
If Finland loses, then Canada would have to lose to Russia (0 points), beat Russia in overtime (2 points), or beat Russia in regulation (3 points) by fewer than two goals to miss the bye.
Since all three teams with three points would each have one regulation win and those wins came in direct competition with each other, the tie-breaker is the better goal difference in the direct games amongst the tied teams. The goal differential between Russia and Finland is +1, the goal differential between Finland and Canada is +1. If the goal differential between Canada and Russia is +2 or more, Canada moves on.
If the goal differential is only +1 then Canada will need to have scored more goals against Russia than Finland scored against them. A 2-1 win is bad. A 5-4 win is fine. A 4-3 win means moving to the next tie-breaker: how badly each team was beaten by USA. Barring some Act of God against Noora Raty, that takes Russia right out of it.
If USA beats Finland 2-1, matching the USA-Canada score, we move on to the next tie-breaker, which as far as I can tell doesn’t actually apply to women’s hockey: Should the teams still remain tied, then the results between each of the three teams and the next highest best-ranked team outside the sub-group will be applied. Nobody in Group A has played Germany or Sweden so we’d skip that and move right to the last criteria - seedings entering the tournament. If we get that far, Canada gets the bye, and Finland gets the largest pile of salt that women’s hockey has ever seen.
The consequences for third or fourth place in Group B are more dire, and fortunately tie-breaks are much less likely to be needed here.
As mentioned above, Germany is guaranteed a Quarter-Final spot. Group B standings currently are:
Czech Republic 1
Tuesday, Germany plays Switzerland and Sweden plays the Czech Republic. The most Sweden can do is beat the Czechs in regulation and end with 6 points, so Germany is safe. It’s Sweden that’s worried.
If Sweden loses in regulation to the Czechs, they end up in the Relegation round.
If Sweden loses in overtime and Germany wins, the Swedes move on.
If Sweden loses in overtime and the Swiss beat Germany in overtime, the Swedes still move on because they beat Switzerland in their head to head.
If Sweden loses to the Czech Republic and Switzerland beats Germany in regulation, Switzerland moves on.
If Sweden loses in regulation and Switzerland wins in overtime, Switzerland moves on because they beat the Czech Republic in their head to head.
If Sweden loses in regulation and Germany beats Switzerland, the Czechs move on.