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Women's World Championship Roundup: Canada, USA, Switzerland, Czechia Advance to Final 4

The semifinal matchups are set after an eventful day of quarterfinal action at the 2022 women's World Hockey Championship in Denmark.
Women's World Championship (WWC)

And then there were four.

While Canada and USA breezed through their games, the world’s third-ranked team, Finland, fell in a stunning upset to Czechia, who have advanced to their first World Championship semifinal in history.

The semifinal matchups, which get underway Saturday, will feature Canada against Switzerland and USA facing off against Czechia.

Switzerland Ousts Japan In Dramatic Shootout

Switzerland and Japan entered the quarterfinals as the bottom two teams from Group A, and the margin between them was slim as Switzerland came out ahead 2-1 in the shootout.

Following a scoreless first period where Japan killed off a trio of penalties, Makoto Ito scored at 34:35 to give Japan a 1-0 lead. Ito sent a cross-ice pass to Ayaka Hitosato leaving the Japanese zone, which saw Hitosato break down the right wing getting a shot off on Swiss netminder Andrea Braendli. Ito followed the play from her own zone as the trailer and pounced on Hitosato’s rebound to score. 

With less than four minutes remaining in the second, Switzerland evened the score shorthanded. While Japan attempted to regroup, Switzerland’s Evelina Raselli intercepted a puck in the neutral zone and broke in two-on-none with Sinja Leeman. After Raselli made a move to freeze Miyuu Masuhara, she slid the puck to Leeman who finished the play to tie the game at 1-1.

The third period and overtime would solve nothing, sending the game to a shootout. After Braendli turned away the first Japanese shooter, 18-year-old Alina Marti scored to give Switzerland the advantage. Braendli stopped three more shooters, but Sinja Leeman scored on her attempt to secure the 2-1 win for Switzerland.

The Swiss now advance to the semifinals and will have a chance to play for a medal, while Japan will compete in a placement game.

USA Romps Hungary, Knight Sets Points Record

After a slow start, USA romped Hungary 12-1 in what turned out to be a historic game for USA’s Hilary Knight.

Taylor Heise continued her offensive dominance in the tournament opening the scoring only 1:36 into the game. Heise turned up ice in the neutral zone and used the Hungarian defenders as a screen as she drove the middle of the ice. Heise’s shot was deflected by a defender before beating Aniko Nemeth low on the stick side. Nemeth helped her team stay close, stopping 17 of 18 shots to end the first trailing only 1-0.

From that moment on, however, it was all Team USA. Taylor Heise scored twice in the second to record a hat trick, while Hannah Bilka scored two of her three goals on the night in the second period. Amanda Kessel played the role as a set-up woman throughout the game notching five assists, a point total matched only by Bilka who alongside her hat trick, also chipped in a pair of assists.

Perhaps Bilka’s biggest point came in the third period when she took a puck below the goal line and found an open Hilary Knight in the high slot. Knight took the puck before firing a wrist shot glove side for her game's first goal. The point was the 87th over Knight’s illustrious career, breaking the IIHF women’s World Championship all-time point record held by Hayley Wickenheiser. Knight now sits as the all-time World Championship points and goals leader.

The Americans saw multiple other players, including Caroline Harvey, Hannah Brandt, and Juncy Dunne, record three-point games.

Czechia Upsets Finland

The top team from Group B has ousted the third-ranked team in the world as Czechia took a 2-1 overtime win over Finland in the quarterfinals.

After playing a scoreless first period, Daniela Pejsova, the tournament’s top blueline scorer through the preliminary round, scored to give Czechia the 1-0 lead. Captain Alena Mills backhanded the puck to the slot from the blueline where Pejsova collected it, turned and scored glove side on Finland’s Anni Keisala.

Heading to the third down a goal, Finland took to the ice with purpose, outshooting Czechia and finally cracking the scoresheet. At 48:01 Noora Tulus collected a loose puck in the left circle and buried a shot to even the score at 1-1.

With regulation ending with a tie, the contest headed to overtime. Czechia completed the stunning upset only 41 seconds into the extra frame as defender Aneta Tejralova scored her first of the tournament playing hero.

Canada Holds Off Sweden

Canada peppered Sweden throughout the game to take a 3-0 win to set up a semifinal matchup against Switzerland.

In the opening period, Renata Fast walked down the wall below the goal line and thread the needle through a crowd out front to find Jocelyn Larocque sliding down the weak side where she buried a puck high over Emma Soderberg’s blocker.

In the second period, Sarah Potomak scored a spectacular goal at 33:56 on a solo effort. She gained speed on the crossover through the neutral zone, caught the Swedish defenders flat-footed and then froze Soderberg before sliding the puck home on a backhand deke.

Potomak fought off a checker late in the third period before dishing to Erin Ambrose who found the back of the net from the blueline and end the scoring in the 3-0 win. Potomak was named Canada’s player of the game. Emma Soderberg who made 54 saves for the Swedes was their player of the game.

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Three Stars

1. Daniela Pejsova, D (CZE): The leading scorer among all blueliners in the preliminary round, Pejsova opened the scoring for Czechia in the opening period finding a puck off captain Alena Mills’ stick, turning and scoring in the slot. She’s been able to activate throughout the tournament giving Czechia an additional layer of offense. More important was her shutdown role against Finland’s best lines in the game. Pejsova led all players by almost four minutes in ice time, playing 27:08 in Czechia’s upset win.

2. Hannah Bilka, F (USA): Bilka assisted on a historic goal by Hilary Knight who took over the all-time scoring lead for the women’s World Championship, but it was Bilka who dominated during the 2022 quarterfinals. Bilka used her speed to gain separation throughout the game and flashed her shooting skills scoring a hat trick and adding two assists for a five-point performance. The 21-year-old now has 11 points through five games.

3. Jocelyn Larocque, D (CAN): Larocque has not received enough credit throughout this tournament for her steadying presence on the Canadian blueline. She is the quarterback and the linebacker all in one for Canada. Larocque scored Canada’s first goal of the game receiving a beautiful pass from defence partner Renata Fast who had dropped below the goal line and scored high over the blocker. Larocque has been spectacular in transition for the Canadian’s quickly moving the puck up ice and out of trouble.

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