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Women's World Championship Preview: The Rest of the Pack

It seems unfathomable that a team will knock Canada or the United States out of the top two spots at the women's World Championship, but the gap is closing. Here's a look at the other eight competing teams in Denmark.

It seems unfathomable that a team will knock Canada or the United States out of the top two spots at the women's World Championship, but the gap is closing.

Specifically, Finland and Switzerland are making noticeable progress, and at the U-18 level this year, we saw considerable talent on the Swedish and Czechian rosters. 

Do any of the remaining eight teams have a shot at knocking off Canada or the USA? And if not, who'll fight for bronze? 

Here is a look at the rest of the pack for the 2022 women’s World Championship in Denmark.

“The Rest” In Group A

Finland is bringing a youthful roster to the tournament with 13 players aged 23-and-under. However, the backbone of the team will again be veteran Jenni Hirokoski. The 37-year-old seems ageless, having represented Finland in 13 World Championship and four Olympic tournaments. She still can drive offense from the blueline as she displayed this year playing in Sweden’s SDHL. Hirokoski will almost certainly lead the Finns in time on ice. 

Petra Nieminen, Susanna Tapani, and Michelle Karvinen are among the best players in the World each scoring at a point-per-game or better in the Beijing Olympics, as did 20-year-old blueliner Nelli Laitinin who will look to repeat her performance on the World stage. Internal turmoil has kept Finland’s best goalie Noora Raty off the national team, so it will again be Anni Keisala’s crease. Keisala staked her claim as one of the best in the sport being named the Best Goaltender at last year’s World Championship. Finland will enter as the favorites to win bronze.

You can never count out Switzerland, though. Alina Muller and Lara Stadler will be the focal points for the Swiss, which is nothing new after years of success from them. At the Beijing Olympics, the Swiss rode Andrea Brandli in goal and that's not going to change in Denmark.

With the recent retirement of 30-year-old captain Chiho Osawa, Japan’s status as an underdog in Group A took another hit. Luckily, sisters Haruka and Ayaka Toko were two of Japan’s top three scorers at the Beijing Olympics, and they’re back again. Younger sister Haruka, who played for Linkoping in the SDHL last season, will be expected to carry the bulk of the load for Japan up front. Ayaka will join her sister in Sweden next year. The biggest change to Japan’s roster will come in net as Olympic starter Nana Fujimoto won't return. Typically a Group B team, this will be an uphill battle for Japan.

A Look At Group B

Much like we saw in the recent women’s U-18 World Championship, we can expect competitive games from the team’s in Group B, with Czechia, Sweden, and Germany all showing progress. 

Sweden and Czechia, in particular, have taken big steps forward. Czechia is without their top scorer from Beijing, Tereza Vanisova, but Alena Mills, who was snakebitten in Beijing, and Katerina Mrazova will still be big threats at forward. 

Defender Maja Nylén Persson is the top Swede, but some excitement can come from 17-year-old Mira Jungaker as well. Josefin Bouveng is coming off a strong season in the SDHL, and the 21-year-old is only getting better up front. 

Germany has seven players heading back to the NCAA this season, but their reigning World Championship and current Frauen Bundesliga leading scorer Julia Zorn isn’t back. Laura Kluge will be relied on to step up offensively in the meantime. 

Hungary and Denmark round out Group B, and are tremendous underdogs. Denmark’s team features several players who were successful in the SDHL this season, which should give them a boost at home.


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