The loss ends Japan’s preliminary round and leaves them locked in fifth place of Group A with no points (four losses). They’ll play the fourth-place team in the quarter-finals, which start on Thursday. The Finns finish their round robin tomorrow against Switzerland in a game that will likely sort out the third-fourth situation.
This was only the third ever meeting between these teams in Women’s Worlds play, most recently in 2006. Finland won both previous games by 1-0 and 6-1 scores.
Meeri Raisanen, making her first appearance at this year’s Women’s Worlds, got the win while Miyuu Masuhara was the losing goalie for the second time. This marked the first time Japan had scored three goals against the big three of Canada-United States-Finland in Women's Worlds history – and all three came from the Shiga sisters, Akane (two) and Aoi.
"We did a pretty good job today," said Viivi Vainikka, who had two goals and an assist for the winners. "Obviously it was nice to win. We got a lot of scoring chances and we scored on a lot of them. I think we have really good flow right now. The first two games were very tough against USA and Canada. They're such good teams. But Japan is a good skating team and they can also score. We have to be more careful with our passes and be ready to win the puck battles. And when we can, we need to get the puck deep instead of turning it over at the blue line."
Just three minutes later, however, Japan tied the game on a fine play. Jenni Hiirikoski lost the puck in the corner and Makoto Ito fired a perfect pass to Akane Shiga in front. She snapped a quick shot past Raisanen at 13:25 to tie the game. It was her second goal of the tournament, and the team’s second as well. In 2021, Shiga scored four of Japan’s 12 goals.
Japan had little time to enjoy the tie score, though. Just 79 seconds later, Finland re-took the lead when Susanna Tapani got to a loose puck in the Japan end. She drove hard to the net, waited as Masuhara went down, and tucked it in the far side.
The Finns jumped into a 3-1 lead early in the second when Sanni Rantala’s point shot was tipped down and in by Vainikka at 1:33. The Japanese almost replied soon after, but Suzaka Taka’s blistering shot pinged off the crossbar and stayed out.
Finland went up three goals with a highlight-reel effort from Elisa Holopainen. She took a simple pass in front of her own goal and dashed the length of the ice. She pushed her way between the two defenders, and finished the play with a nice shot to beat Masuhara.
Just three and a half minutes later, Shiga was back doing what she does best – score. She claimed the puck at her blue line off a turnover, and went in on a three-on-two. Not seeing much of a passing lane, she shot. Raisanen made a fine pad save, but Shiga found an opening on the short side with the rebound, making it three for three so far this tournament.
Finland, however, would not allow the Shiga Show to spoil their party. Vainikka backhanded a loose puck from in tight to make it 5-2, and Petra Nieminen converted a partial breakaway with a nice deke to make it 6-2 at 19:14.
The Finns scored a pair of quickies ealry in the third as well. Nelli Laitinen snapped a beauty over Masuhara's shoulder from the faceoff dot at 3:20, and 99 seconds later Holopainen tucked in a perfect pass through the crease from Noora Tulus.
Sini Karjalainen finished the scoring for Finland with a bouncing wrister from the point that fooled Masuhara at 16:28. But Shiga was not done yet. She fed a gorgeous pass to Haruka Toko going to the net. Toko's tip was stopped by Raisanen, but Akane's sister, Aoi, was right there to push home the rebound.