Sweden moves on
by Andrew Podnieks|15 APR 2023
Sweden and Japan played a hard-fought game this afternoon to qualify for the 5th-6th place game.
photo: Andrea Cardin / IIHF
Josefin Bouveng scored the game's only goal midway through the first period and Emma Soderberg stopped all 23 shots as Sweden shut out Japan, 1-0, tonight at CAA Centre in Brampton.

The win takes Sweden to the 5-th-6th place final game on Sunday morning. Japan, meanwhile, goes home with a 7th-place finish and will be back in Group B next year after finishing 5th last year and starting this year's round robin in Group A.

"I think we gained a lot of confidence yesterday playing against Canada, taking them to overtime," Bouveng noted. "Our game plan today was to keep that intensity as high as yesterday. I think we did everything we had to do today, and if we can win fifth place that will give us a great advantage at next year’s Worlds."
"We had some good scoring opportunities, but we couldn’t score," lamented Japan's coach, Yuji Iizuka. "We practise our power play a lot but we couldn’t bury our chances. I think all of the teams who are in fifth to eighth are pretty close and competitive. You never know who will finish fifth, but for us we couldn’t win that one game that would have made the difference."

In all, Japan managed only one point this year, and overtime loss to Czechia. More significant, in six games they scored just six goals and allowed 24. 

Japan's goalie, Riko Kawaguchi, was almost as good as Soderberg, stopping 23 of 24 shots. 

Sweden jumped into the lead midway through the first on a quick shot by Bouveng in the slot. It was the fifth time in six games that the Swedes had scored first, and the lead held up through the rest of the period.

"I felt when I got the puck that I had a lot of time to see where I wanted to shoot, and I looked for a spot where the goalie wasn’t," Bouveng related. "I think there was some traffic, and the goalie had a hard time seeing the puck."

Japan had a great chance to tie a few minutes later when Akane Shiga intercepted a Fanny Rask pass. Shiga dashed up ice with Rask in hot pursuit, and although the Japanese forward got a shot off, it went wide. Japan also had the only power play of the opening 20 minutes, but it was ineffective against an impressive Sweden penalty kill.
The second saw a series of four penalties evenly distributed, but neither side could connect. Nevertheless, Japan came out with a more determined effort and were the better team. They moved the puck with crisp, quick passes and had the Swedes defending much of the time. 
The best scoring chance of the period came late, when Shiga fed a streaking Makoto Ito with a nice pass. Ito had trouble controlling the pass and got only a weak shot off, though. But the best chance of the game belonged to Shiga herlsef. The Japanese had the extra skater midway throug the third, and although Soderberg made one save off a shot, the rebound came to Shiga with an open net. She hit the post.

And that summed up Japan's puck luck this tournament, and with the loss they go home. For Sweden, they have a great chance to move up to Group A and face the best of the best next year, but they'll have to beat Finland to do so. 
Japan vs Sweden (Pl.) - 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship