Hat trick for Nieminen
by Liz Montroy|14 APR 2023
Petra Nieminen collected four points against Germany in placement round play.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin

A standout performance from Petra Nieminen helped Finland to a 8-2 win over Germany in the first placement round game at the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship, sending Finland to a Sunday morning contest for fifth place against the winner of Japan versus Sweden.

The game was even through the first period, with shots at 11 each and the score at 1-1 after the first 20 minutes. Sonja Weidenfelder scored her first career Women’s World goal for Germany while on the power play to open scoring. While an attempt from Celina Haider was blocked by defender Ronja Savolainen, Franziska Feldmeier and Weidenfelder tag teamed to get the puck to the net, with Weidenfelder putting it past Finnish goalie Anni Keisala. Finland scored 16 seconds later however, with Jenniina Nylund tipping in a shot from Emilia Vesa.

"I think our first period was definitely a reflection of how good we felt about our performance yesterday, so carrying that into today definitely helped," said Germany's Nina Jobst-Smith. "But we’ve got to play three periods full and that’s not what we did today."

A penalty was called on Germany in the final minute of the first period, giving Finland some momentum with which to start the second. They made good use of it, with Nieminen scoring her fourth of the tournament, a one-timer through traffic.

This time it was Germany with the quick response. One minute and 14 seconds later, Bernadette Karpf passed the puck across Finland’s zone to a wide open Theresa Wagner, who scored five hole to tie the game. The last (and only other) time Germany scored more than one goal on Finland at the Women’s World Championship was in 2001.

"I think as the tournament progressed, our offence continued to produce and we kind of saw scoring from a lot of different players, so I think that’s why today we did have some success and we were able to put pucks on net and just crash those rebounds," said Jobst-Smith. "I think we’re really proud and we feel really confident going forward that we can compete with any team and we’ve proven that at this tournament. I think confidence is such a big part of any sport, so that will hopefully bring us very far in the near future."

However, the second period really belonged to Nieminen. She regained Finland’s lead moments later by scoring a another power play goal that was almost identical to her first, a one-timer from the point.

"We need to shoot more and on those both goals we had really good traffic on the net. It’s very easy to shoot when we have someone there in front of the goalie," said Nieminen. "We just talked in our locker room before the second one that we need to skate and when we get there, puck on the stick, that we just skate up to the net."

Then, during a delayed penalty, Nieminen spun away from Germany’s defence to enter the offensive zone with the puck, skating in on goaltender Sandra Abstreiter and dragging the puck across the crease to tuck it in the net. Nieminen’s three goals were scored within a span of just over eight minutes.

Nieminen became the tournament’s leading scorer in the third period, collecting an assist on Finland’s fifth goal of the game, which was tapped into the net by Julia Liikala. Finland took control of the game, and their next two goals were scored just over a minute apart. Captain Jenni Hiirikoski gave Finland a 6-2 lead at 48:17, and 62 seconds later, Emilia Vesa rushed the puck and sent it five hole.

Johanna May (who made 40 saves in Germany’s 3-0 preliminary round loss to Finland) replaced Abstreiter in net for the final 10 minutes.

"Once you see a team’s system in the first game it is a little easier to play it in the second game. Although the numbers don’t show today, it definitely helps," said Jobst-Smith. "But at the same time every game is new and every time you play a team it’s going to be completely different. I think in that aspect we struggled a bit today."

The Finns scored once again before the final buzzer to win 8-2, a wrist shot from Nelli Laitinen. 

"That was really nice," Nieminen said of getting the win over Germany after losing to Czechia in the quarter-finals. "Of course yesterday was so bad and we were so upset, but then we just talked about it, that we want to go in the A group. We want to go back and play against USA and Canada."