Finland FIN
3 APR 2024
Czechia CZE
Preliminary Round
15:00Adirondack Bank Center
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no goals
Game details
NEARY Shauna
RAPIN Chelsea
ERNST Leonie
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Czechs make rebounds count
By Andrew Podnieks | 03 APR 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin
Czechia scored two goals in the second period to break a scoreless tie and skated to a 4-0 win over Finland this afternoon in the second game of the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship. Two goals came with the Finnish net empty.

This was the first ever penalty-free game in Women's Worlds history.

The fact that it was a low-scoring game should come as no surprise. These teams have now played six times in Women’s Worlds history and scored only 20 total goals. The Czechs have now won the last three games in this rivalry, and this marks the first time they've ever shut out Suomi. 

Czechia is now a very impressive 11-4 at the Women's Worlds under coach Carla MacLeod, who turned the program around when she became head coach in 2022.

For Czechia goalie Klara Peslarova, who stopped 21 shots for the shutout, the game was a long time in the making. After starring at the 2022 WW with a 6-0-1 record and 1.99 GAA, she suffered a serious knee injury and missed all of last season. Nevertheless, she sparkled in her return today.

"We had a really good start and played like a team," said Adela Sapovalivova, who had a goal and an assist. "I think this is a really good statement for us to start the tournament with a game like this. We played physically along the boards, but it's good we didn't take any penalties."

For the Finns, both Michelle Karvinen and Susanna Tapani were back after missing the 2023 Women’s Worlds as well.

"We didn't have enough speed, didn't battle hard," Tapani admitted. "With hard work comes the rewards. I don't know if we weren't ready or what the problem was at the start, but the only positive thing is that we got a bit better in the second period and then the third period. We have to take that into tomorrow's game, which is going to be even faster."

Coach MacLeod was without arguably her best forward. Katerina Mrazova missed the game but has been one of the best stories of the new PWHL season. Playing for MacLeod in Ottawa, Mrazaova is fourth in the league in scoring with 17 points, but the team handled her absence well this afternoon. 

The Finns are back on the Adirondack Bank Center ice again tomorrow night against Canada while the Czechs have a day off before playing hosts USA on Friday night.

Teams played a tight-checking opening period with few scoring chances and no penalties, but it didn’t take long for things to open in the second. Peslarova had a communication breakdown with a defender, causing a turnover, but the goalie made up for it with a sensational stop off Viivi Vainikka from the top of the crease. 

Then at the other end, Ahola gave up a nice rebound corralled by Tereza Vanisova, but Vanisova hit the post as she tried to swipe the puck in. Ahola then dove back and swept the puck out of harm’s way, keeping it a goalless game.

Ahola wasn’t so lucky a few moments later. She gave up another rebound off a Natalie Mlynkova shot, and this time 17-year-old Sapovalivova was right there to give Czechia a 1-0 lead at 7:23. Sapovalivova was a star with the U18 team that won a silver medal just a few months ago, finishing second in tournament scoring. This is already her third senior WW as well as her sixth career WW goal.

"The whole line helped on the goal," Sapovalivova noted. "We had a lot of pressure in their end, and then Nat shot and I got the rebound. It was a good goal for us."

Another rebound led to a second Czechia goal later in the period. Klara Hymlarova came down the left wing on a harmless play and got a shot off that Ahola couldn’t control. Defender Siiri Yrjola failed to watch Hymlarova, who walked around her and dumped her own rebound past a sprawling goalie to make it 2-0 after 40 minutes.

 Mlynkova added an empty netter at 16:56 of the third after Finland coach Jusso Toivola pulled Ahola with nearly four minutes left in the third. Curiously, Toivola pulled her again after this third goal, and Tereza Plosova added another empty netter at 17:44.

NOTES: Finnish captain Jenni Hiirikoski played in the game, thus extending her record to 16 Women's World Championships and 90 WW games.