Klara Peslarova backstopped Czechia to a 3-0 shutout in a battle with Sweden for the top spot in Group B. With both teams already confirmed to progress to the quarter-finals, their final preliminary round game determined who would play the loser of the Canada-United States game and who would play the winner of the Finland-Switzerland game, both also taking place on Tuesday.
This was the first game of the tournament in which Czechia was unable to score in the first period, with the offensively-gifted Czechs managing just three shots on Emma Soderberg, who was back in net following a start for Ida Boman against Hungary. Czech goaltender Peslarova found herself busier than usual, stopping two breakaway attempts from Josefin Bouveng and one from Jenny Antonsson within the first twenty minutes.
"We talked after the first period what we need to do better, how we have to support each other much better then we did in the first," said Pribylova. "I think we really shifted that. I think after the first goal we really changed our mentality and started playing much better."
The Damkronorna did what they could to rally back, but it remained a one goal game heading into the third. Natalie Mlynkova furthered Czechia’s lead with just under 10 minutes remaining, picking up a drop pass from Kristyna Patkova and ripping the puck top corner. Mlynkova finishes the preliminary round as Czechia’s leader in goals with four.
Sweden pulled their goalie with eight minutes remaining in an attempt to close the gap with an extra attacker, but were unable to maintain possession in Czechia’s end. Klara Hymlarova scored an empty net goal to give Czechia a 3-0 lead. Their second shutout in a row, Czechia has only allowed two goals against through four games played.
"We talked about it after the game, this was a good one for us," said Czechia head coach Carla MacLeod. "Denmark was another on, it wasn’t easy by any means. None of these games have been easy. [Today] we weren’t scoring at the same rate that maybe we were in other games, but we’ve got to be comfortable with that, and that’s the reality, because moving forward every game is going to be a close game. That’s the joy of hockey. I said to them in the first intermission, if you’re not smiling in this game, you don’t like hockey. So we said let’s go out there, let’s enjoy it, and that’s a big part of it. Sweden’s a great team, we knew that coming in. Our pool’s a strong pool. Every game is close—you can see it in the scores—so there’s not a day off by any means, and today we certainly had to earn it."
With this win, Czechia finishes at the top of Group B, and will play the third-ranked team in Group A in the quarter-finals on Thursday. Sweden finishes second with seven points, and will have a quarter-final match-up with the second-ranked Group A team.
"I’m really proud of the team. Of course you want to win a game like this. We wanted to be first in the group, but we did a good game," said Swedish captain Michelle Lowenhielm. "We had some ups and downs [in the preliminary round], and I just love that when it’s a down, we come together. We’ve got to be proud of standing here and having a quarter-final."
The result of this game also means that Czechia has gone undefeated in the preliminary round, matching their record from the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship. Meanwhile, Sweden has improved upon their ninth-place finish in 2019; their record of one win, two shootout wins, and one loss ensures that they will finish within the top-eight teams this year.