"I think we came so strongly because we talked about our skating and passing tempo," Nieminen said. "We had good skating speed all the time, and we made those easy passes. I think everything was really good."
Coming up is a rematch of the 2019 quarter-final in Espoo where the Finns beat the Czechs 3-1. In Group B, the Czechs have won four straight games – as they also did in 2019 – with a 16-3 goal difference.
"In my opinion, they were clearly the fourth-best team in Espoo, and they are top-four now in the world," said Finnish coach Pasi Mustonen. "I've never seen a better Czech team than the team that's here right now."
The winless Swiss will face the ROC team in their quarter-final – another 2019 rematch. The Russians won 3-0 that year.
The Finns got off to a tough start in Calgary, squandering a two-goal first-period lead in a 5-3 loss to Canada and falling 3-0 to the defending champion Americans. Yet right now, with two straight wins, the 2019 silver medalists are firing on all cylinders. Shots favoured Finland 37-9 as goalie Meeri Raisanen had a quiet afternoon en route to the shutout.
The 22-year-old Nieminen, whose overtime goal versus the U.S. in the 2019 gold medal game in Espoo was controversially disallowed after video review, now leads this tournament with five goals and six points. Her stellar chemistry with her linemates was on full display. Susanna Tapani scored twice, and Michelle Karvinen racked up three assists.
"Of course, I did those goals, but I think our whole line was with me," Nieminen said. "We made those goals together."
Viivi Vainikka got her first goal of the tournament. Captain Jenni Hiirikoski and Noora Tulus also chipped in two helpers apiece.
The Swiss offence has been snakebitten, with just one goal in four round-robin games. Losing star forward Alina Muller with a leg injury against the ROC team was a significant blow. Muller, named Best Forward at the 2018 Olympics, watched the action at WinSport Arena with her right foot in a walking boot.
"We need definitely more offence from top players like Lara Stalder, Phoebe Staenz, Evelina Raselli, and Noemi Rhyner," said coach Colin Muller. "These are girls that have to produce for us. Next game, we'll see what happens."
Raisanen, who had 36 saves in her previous outing against the U.S., came up big when Sinja Leeman jumped into the rush and got in cold on Rhyner’s feed. The Swiss had a couple of other good opportunities but couldn’t finish.
Shorthanded, Nieminen put Finland up 2-0 at 8:54, showing great hand-eye coordination to bat a puck in out of mid-air after Tulus fired from the slot.
Tulus expressed happiness with her team's momentum: "We have learned much. The key point is to play the last game best. We try to learn from our mistakes and be better every day."
Less than three minutes later, the Finns took a three-goal lead. Off a faceoff in the Swiss end, Tapani got the puck to Karvinen, who sent a cross-ice pass to Nieminen for a glove-side zinger.
Nieminen completed her first-period hatty at 14:49 on the rush, courtesy of Karvinen’s sweet saucer pass. This was the first Women’s Worlds natural hat trick since Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin scored three times in the third period of a 13-0 victory over Switzerland in 2013 in Ottawa.
"I thought we did a pretty good job until tonight's first period," said Colin Muller. "Somehow we weren't engaged and we didn't compete. We didn't have our emotions at the level we needed to be. And if you play at this level with no emotions and no compete, then it happens the way it happened tonight with the first period, down 4-0. It's inexcusable."
In the second period, the Swiss marched to the sin bin four times, and the Finns blatantly tried to set up Nieminen for more goals, outshooting the Swiss 12-1.
However, it was Tapani, stationed perfectly in front on the power play, who tipped Hiirikoski’s rising centre point wrist in for a 5-0 margin at 16:39. Tapani came within a hair’s breadth of her own hat trick when she dinged one off the cross bar just before the period ended.
Replacing Braendli between the Swiss pipes with backup Saskia Maurer to start the third period made little difference. Vainikka scored on Finland's first shot of the period at 1:26 to go up 6-0.
With under seven minutes left in the third, Maurer showed her talent with a right pad save on Karvinen on a breakaway. Yet it was strictly about finding some positives for the Swiss at this point.
Looking ahead to taking on the ROC team in the quarter-final, Switzerland's Lisa Ruedi said: "I think we expect a really high battle level. We'll try to outskate them and work really hard as a unit. I think we can do great things together as a team."
Finland has now won 10 out of 12 Women’s Worlds games all-time against Switzerland.