2024 WW Preview: Quarter-finals
by Ameeta VOHRA|11 APR 2024
photo: @ International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin
The playoffs are the new season.  Therefore, the quarter-finals are no exception at the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship.  

If the preliminary round showed us anything, it's that the intensity will only get greater as teams put everything on the line with one and done games.
Here is a preview of the four quarter-final games.

Another chapter in this rivalry will be written when the two teams square off against each other on Thursday.
The two teams met earlier in the week and Finland scored a 4-2 win over the Swiss.  
Will Finland keep their momentum going after securing their first win of the tournament?
One of their strengths is their puck possession.  Their top offensive line has been very dynamic and dangerous in this tournament.  For Switzerland to have success in this game, they need to contain the line of Susanna Tapani, Petra Nieminen and Michelle Karvinen.
Finland was hoping to use the off-day to strengthen team cohesion so the team is more in sync come quarter-finals time.
“We will try to do everything that we are ready when the puck drops,” captain Jenni Hiirikoski says.  “We have now off day tomorrow and we can get our heads outside of the rink and be together as a team, so that will be really nice.”
Switzerland’s top offensive line started to get the chains rolling as they scored their first couple of goals towards the end of the tournament.  
When Andrea Braendli has been between the pipes, she gives the team every opportunity to win with the tremendous saves she’s made over the course of this tournament.  She will have to dig deeper from here on in if Switzerland has a deep run.
However, the team knows they need to do more if they hope to extend their stay in Utica beyond the quarter-finals.
“We just have to like look at our mistakes," Sinja Leemann says.  "We have to work on them. We have to find more and just go from the start. When you don't always get an early goal, it's pretty hard so focus on that, work as a team and go hard until the end. This will be the point to make the difference.”
Led by captain Lara Stalder and Alina Muller, Switzerland will try to get their first win of the tournament when it matters the most.
“We’re looking forward to a win,” Leeman says.  “We’re going to work hard for that and see how that goes.”
Germany comes into the quarter-finals on a high after winning Group B with a perfect record.
Their strength comes at goaltending at Sandra Albstreiter. During this tournament, she has been a brick wall.  In three started, she amassed a 97.30 save percentage and 0.67 goals against average. 
Up front, Laura Kluge has led the team with two goals and two assists for four points. Emily Nix racked up two goals and one assist for three points.
Having reached their goals to make the quarter-finals and win every game in Group B, now the real test begins for Germany.  The work is not done yet and they know the competition will be stiffer in the next rounds.
“We’re happy with what we got so far.,” Kluge says.  “We just got to look forward to whoever we're going to play. From now on, we're going to be the underdog and there's no better position than that. We're going to do everything possible to get a win.”
Czechia’s top line has been arguably one of the more explosive and dynamic ones of the tournament.  The line of Adela Sapovalivova, Klara Hymlarova and Natalie Mlynkova have been lighting it up against opponents.
Mlynkova is leading all scorers with four goals and two assists for six points.  That includes the hat trick she netted against Switzerland in Czechia’s final game of the preliminary round.
For Czechia to get further in the playoff round, they need to score more powerplay goals.  In their last preliminary game against Switzerland, they finally scored their first of the tournament.
“We just have to work a little bit to improve our powerplay," Vanisova says.  "It's different when you play powerplay against Canada, US and then Switzerland. No offense, but it is what it is. We don’t have the powerplay so far, but just keep going and I'm sure it's going go.”
“We just have to keep playing our hockey,” forward Tereza Vanisova says.  “If we keep playing our best, we are going to get there eventually.”

This contest will be a rematch of the 2023 Women’s Worlds quarter-final in Brampton, Ontario.  It took overtime for Canada to defeat Sweden 3-2 when Sarah Nurse scored her second goal of that game at the 4:26 mark.
Canada is coming into the quarter-final after losing their first game of the tournament 1-0 at the hands of host United States.  
The team has the best goalie of the tournament so far in Ann-Renee Desbiens. In three starts, Desbiens has s 97.37 save percentage and 0.67 goals against average.  Her consistency and dependability will be Canada’s strength into this game.
“We know what to expect from Ann-Renee, and it's excellent night-in, night out,” Nurse says.  “She's somebody who can always be a game breaker and make saves when we need the most work. She's been a steady force back there for years and will do so.”
Kristin O’Neill leads all Canadian scorer with two goals and two assists for four points. The team’s powerplay has not been as effective as the team has scored one goal in ten chances during this tournament. Canada welcomes the opportunity to reset and recharge before the push for gold.
“We definitely will get some rest,” Nurse says.  “We've had a very weird schedule since we got here, not being on the first day competition then having two back-to-back so being able to take some time to recover then have a good practice before we get into the medal round. We're a team that thrives in these situations, so we're excited to get things going in the quarters.”
Sweden comes into the quarter-finals after their shocking loss at the hands of the Germans in the preliminary round.  They are hoping to bounce back with an inspiring performance against the Canadians.  
Josefin Bouveng and Hilda Svensson lead the team in scoring.  Bouveng has four goals and an assist. Svensson has three goals and two assists.
Winning faceoffs will be important in this quarterfinal. Hanna Olsson leads the tournament with 57 faceoffs and a percentage of 72.15.
The team also leads in scoring efficiency and the power play with four goals in 13 chances.  However, they are about to face the team that has been successful in penalty killing. Canada is the top team at the tournament with a perfect percentage.
While the team is still reeling from the disappointment of not claiming Group B, they remain focused in continuing their push in the playoff round.
“We’re not happy,” Thea Johansson says.  “Our goal was to win the group, and that's what our goals should be. We just got to take it from here.”

Japan knows it and it not hiding away from it.
Coming off the high of defeating Denmark, the Japanese are faced with the dubious task of playing the top seed and host United States. 
“The United States are a very competitive team,” Akane Shiga says. “The players are talented. We will try to not be afraid and make a chance to get gold.  If there is a chance for us to get gold, we are going to do our best.”
All eyes will be on Shiga to lead Japan.  The forward has led Japan in scoring with two goals and three assists for five points.  Her leadership will be crucial for the team to buy in the belief that they can pull off the unthinkable, and upset the United States.
“Our feeling is to stay confident and not to be afraid towards the United States,” Shiga says. “We are just going to do our best and giving 120 percent."
The host team, United States is inspired after defeating their rivals from Canada in the final game of the preliminary round.  Having an undefeated record and taking Group A is not enough for the host team. It’s gold or nothing.  
Offensively, the United States have multiple players that are at the top of the scoring board.  Kendall Coyne Schofield has re-emerged as a leader and three goals and three assists to lead the team. Caroline Harvey is arguably the top defender of the tournament with her aggressive play in getting opponents to cough up the puck.  She also has six assists so far. Alex Carpenter’s hat trick against Czechia has made her a force to be reckoned with on the ice. Captain Hilary Knight’s leadership has been crucial in key moments.
“I think we're on an uphill trajectory,” forward Britta Curl says. “Playoffs is a whole new ballgame. For us, it’s kind of resetting, recovering and being ready to go in the playoffs. “