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IIHF Women's Worlds Day 5 Recap: Finland Flying High in Group B, USA Making Its Case in Group A

Minnesota Whitecaps Denisa Křížová skating with the puck during Game 2 of the 2023 Isobel Cup Playoffs. Photo by Kayla Shiao
Minnesota Whitecaps Denisa Křížová is one of 8 PHF players competing at the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship in Brampton, Ont. Photo by Kayla Shiao

They got that dog in 'em

I feel like every game Sunday had more of a physical edge than usual this tourney. Maybe it's the clash of one titan (USA) versus another (Czechia), or maybe just an extra bit of spice between longtime rivals (Finland and Sweden). Either way, no one was backing down, leading to some interesting officiating and an abundance of special teams magic. Let's see what the results were, shall we?

Finland 4, Sweden 2

After a scoreless first period, it looked like Sweden was firmly taking control, with two goals in the second and some solid defensive play in front of netminder Sara Grahn. Finland, however, being Finland, reminded everyone of why they're the beast of Group B, scoring four unanswered goals (including two by Ronja Savolainen) to stun their rivals in the third. Petra Niemenen earned game MVP honors for Finland with two points including the game-winning goal, and Noora Tulus was a key factor with three assists. Hannah Thuvik and Mira Jungaker were the goalscorers for the Swedes. Sara Grahn was peppered with 38 shots over 60 minutes, making 34 saves, while Anni Keisala made 13 stops on 15 shots.

USA 6, Czechia 2

The Czechs also started out strong, with Denisa Křížová putting them up 2-1 midway through the first. However, a string of penalties and a barrage of shots on Blanka Skodova caught up with them in the end, leading to Hayley Scamurra tying things up before the first frame ended, plus four more unanswered to give the U.S. another key win.

Lacey Eden ended up with the eventual game-winner early in the second period. Unfortunately for Team USA, a game's worth of chippiness led to Kelly Pannek being tossed for an illegal check to the head in the third period. Indeed, both teams amassed a combined total of 57 penalty minutes (25 of them stemming from the Pannek hit).

Germany 3, France 0

Poor France just can't catch a break with yet another loss, this time at the hands of Nicola Eisenschmid and the Germans. Eisenschmid ended the game with two points (1 G, 1 A), but they really only needed the one goal from Celina Haider, as unfortunately the French couldn't get anything past Providence College goaltender Sandra Abstreiter. Shots were actually pretty even (28-26 Germany), but it's not looking great for Les Bleus with just one more game to go.

Updated Scores and Standings

With today's games, the U.S. and Canada sit atop Group A with 9 points apiece (the Americans have more goals forced, with 22 to Canada's 14). Czechia has the lone overtime win to grant them 2 points, and Japan and Switzerland, unfortunately, sit at the bottom with no wins (Japan has the one point thanks to losing in OT against the Czechs).

Group B sees Finland firmly on top and undefeated, followed closely by Germany (whose only loss has come against the Finns). Sweden and Hungary have one win and three points apiece, while France is at the bottom still looking for a win against this group.

Finland is also dominating the player stats, with Petra Niemenen and Viivi Vainikka going 1-2 (7 and 6 points respectively) and followed closely by Sweden's Hilda Svensson. Vainikka is also tied with Swede Lina Ljungblom with four goals total in three games played, though Ljungblom's shot percentage is slightly better (40 percent to Vainikka's 28.5).

Tomorrow sees Finland wrap up its prelims against Hungary at 11 a.m., while Switzerland and Japan face off at 3 p.m. Hungary will be playing without Petra Szamosfalvi, who was issued a one-game suspension for a slewfoot on Paula Bergstrom during their game against Sweden Saturday.

Canada and the United States also close their round robins out against each other in what for many is the marquee event pre-medal round, with a 7 p.m. puck drop. We'll see what happens with Pannek, as I can't imagine she'll play tomorrow either (but stranger things have happened).


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