Sweden – Kazakhstan 9-0 (2-0, 3-0, 4-0)
HAMEENLINNA, Finland – Newly-promoted Kazakhstan’s fairy tale ride at this year’s World Women’s hit a major road block as Sweden easily won the playoff round meeting, 9-0.
Elin Holmlov had a hat trick in the win, and now has five goals at the championship. But the day belonged to a pair of record-setting Swedes. Maria Rooth scored her 100th career goal midway through the game. The goal was assisted by defenseman Gunilla Andersson, who was playing in her 62nd Women’s World Championship game, a new tournament record. Andersson, who also is in her record-setting 13th World Women’s, was honored after the game, while Rooth was given the historic 100-goal puck.
Tina Enstrom kicked off the scoring 2:07 into action with a short-side goal on Kazakh goaltender Darya Obydennova. Holmlov doubled the lead with 44 seconds left in the period. Goaltending was once again a key for the Kazakhs, who kept the score respectable until the final minutes of the game despite being out-shot nearly five to one.
Holmlov scored again seven minutes into the second period, making it 3-0, but the game broke wide open late in the period when Sweden scored a pair of goals less than a minute apart, including the Rooth-Andersson marker, to make it a substantial 5-0 advantage.
Things really fell apart for the Kazakhs in the waning moments of the game as the Swedes put in four goals in a 2:02 span for the easy 9-0 win.
Obydennova took a shot in the shoulder late in the second period and did not return to action in the third. She was replaced by Natalya Trunova, who held Sweden scoreless until the late-game flood. The duo combined for 61 saves
Sweden’s Valentina Lizana earned the shutout in net, facing 15 shots.
Kazakhstan is a major surprise to be skating in the playoff round after they took second place in their preliminary round group. But it was clear today that they were out-matched by the traditional Top-Four nation, Sweden. Sweden will play Russia on Friday in a game that will likely determine which of the two teams will play in the bronze medal game.
China – Switzerland 4-5 (2-1, 2-0, 0-3, 0-0, 0-1)
HAMEENLINNA, Finland - Switzerland mounted an unbelievable third-period comeback, netting three, third-period goals to top China, 5-4 in a shootout. The Swiss rally brought the team one step closer to avoiding relegation, although with two teams going down to Division I, nothing is certain until the three-team round robin is complete.
Darcia Leimgruber was the key the Swiss comeback as she scored two goals in the third-period surge. She gave the Swiss hope with a shorthanded goal 3:50 into the third period. Lucrece Nussbaum followed up with a power-play goal midway through the period to cut the China lead to one. With 4:05 left Leimgruber struck again as the Swiss bench erupted with renewed hope. The goal sent the game to overtime where the Swiss got into penalty trouble but still held China scoreless. In the shootout, the Swiss scored on two of their three chances for the win.
Before the third-period, Switzerland could not find an answer to China’s Rui Sun, who had a hat trick in the win, scoring her trio of goals at key times to kill the Swiss momentum. Even go-to goaltender Florence Schelling was pulled mid-game as the Swiss looked for any way to stop the Chinese advance.
Switzerland, a surprise relegation round team, had problems with the Chinese from the first whistle as Sun scored a pair of goals in the first 3:54 to claim the early 2-0 advantage. Switzerland’s Christine Meier pulled her team to within one late in the period, but the frustration was clear on the Swiss players’ faces as the walked to the locker room after out-shooting China 11-4 in the period. Switzerland out-shot China 39-20 in the game.
Sun struck again to open the second period scoring with a back-breaking shorthanded goal just five seconds after teammate Xueting Qi was whistled for a game misconduct.
Na Jiang struck just over two minutes later to make it an insurmountable 4-1 lead. Schelling was pulled shortly after, and Switzerland took a few frustration penalties to kill most offensive hope for the rest of the period.
Things continued to look bleak on the Swiss side until the shorthanded tally clearly sparked the Swiss players. Swiss goaltender Dominique Slongo also deserves credit for coming in mid-game from the bench and holding the Chinese scoreless.
The Swiss, who reached a program high last year with a stunning fourth-place finish, have been just as surprising this year, struggling through the preliminary round and landing in the relegation round. Both Switzerland and China still need to beat Japan to keep their hopes for avoiding relegation alive as today’s outcome doesn’t create any guarantees for either nation.
Canada – Finland 8-0 (2-0, 2-0, 4-0)
HAMEENLINNA, Finland – Canada had its toughest test yet at this year’s World Women’s Championship, but passed with flying colors as they shutout Finland, 8-0.
Canada had a steady attack, putting in two goals in both the first and second periods and then pulling away in the third with four markers.
Gina Kingsbury and Jennifer Botterill scored less than two minutes apart early in the first period to set the tone for Canada. Another pair of goals courtesy of Sarah Vaillancourt and Maghan Agosta built the Canadian lead to 4-0 at the end of 40 minutes.
Botterill added her second goal to open the third period scoring with a power-play tally that floated its way past Finnish goaltender Noora Raty. Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford followed with a pair of goals coming just two minutes apart to make it an impressive 7-0 lead.
After the Wickenheiser goal, Finland changed Raty in favor of hometown favorite Maija Hassinen, which brought a hearty cheer from the Hameenlinna crowd. Hassinen fared somewhat well against the number-one ranked team in the world, giving up only two goals, the Hefford tally and a the 8-0 goal from Marie-Philip Poulin.
The win puts Canada in pole position for a berth in the gold medal game. The Canadians have never missed the golden game at a World Women’s Championship. Only a three-way tie in the group could prevent the Canadians from reaching the finals again this year. If the U.S. beats Finland tomorrow, then both North American nations will be in the gold medal game, sending Finland to play for bronze.