27/02/2024

Aneta Tejralová celebrates scoring the overtime winner to advance Czechia into the semi-finals for the first time ever. (Photo Credit: Národní tým žen/Twitter)

In our preview for the quarter-finals, The Inner Sanctum said they would be must-watch hockey, and all four games certainly lived up to that.

There was a shootout victory, an overtime win, a massive record was broken, and some miraculous goaltending across the four games.

Quarter Final 1: Switzerland defeats Japan in a shootout

In the preliminary stage, Switzerland defeated Japan 3-1, but this match would be a lot closer with Japan opening the scoring in the second period through Makoto Ito, leaving Switzerland to chase the game.

It would take just six minutes into the third period for the Swiss to tie the match, intercepting a long cross-ice pass from Japan’s power play unit, giving Switzerland a 2v0 breakaway to level the scores.

With neither side able to find another goal in regulation or overtime, the game would head to a shootout, with Switzerland emerging victorious as Japan could not find the net in four attempts, with the Swiss scoring two of their three attempts to advance to the semi-finals.

Quarter Final 2: Hilary Knight sets the all-time Women’s World Championship points record

The big story to come out of the USA’s 12-1 victory against Hungary was Hilary Knight breaking the all-time points record at the Women’s World Championship, previously held by Hayley Wickenheiser with 86 points.

Hilary Knight with the puck that saw her break the record for all-time points scored at the IIHF Women’s World Championship. (Photo Credit: USA Hockey/Twitter

Hannah Bilka and Taylor Heise both recorded hat-tricks, while Amanda Kessel recorded five assists during the dominant victory en route to the semi-finals.

For Hungary, it moves into the placement matches portion of the bracket, and can still finish anywhere between fifth and eighth place in just its second-ever appearance in the top division of the Women’s World Championship.

Quarter Final 3: Czechia books its first-ever semi-finals appearance in the top division

In a game that would require overtime, Czechia would defeat Finland 2-1 and book its first-ever spot in the final four in the top division at the Women’s Worlds.

Klára Peslarová was a crucial part of Czechia’s performance in this match. As she has done all tournament, coming up with some massive saves throughout the match.

Daniela Pejšová would continue her strong tournament, opening the scoring in the second period, before Noora Tulus would equalise in the third.

Aneta Tejralová would find the winner just 41 seconds into overtime, advancing Czechia into the final four, and ensuring Finland finish without a medal at the Women’s Worlds for the first time since 2016, when it finished in fourth.

This will also be the first time Finland has finished outside the top four at the Women’s Worlds, showing that perhaps there is more room at the top than previously thought.

Quarter Final 4: Emma Söderberg is the star of the show as Sweden fall to Canada

86 shot attempts. 57 shots on goal. 54 saves. This is what Emma Söderberg had to deal with during Sweden’s 3-0 loss to Canada in one of the best goaltending displays throughout the tournament.

Unfortunately, it was not enough for Sweden to upset Canada, as the Canadians booked a spot in the semi-finals thanks to goals from Jocelyne Larocque, Sarah Potomak, and Erin Ambrose.

Emma Söderberg protects the net as she gets ready to face a shot. (Photo Credit: Tre Kronor/Twitter)

For Sweden, the side was not even supposed to be in this tournament, having been relegated in 2019, but was given a place in the tournament due to Russia being expelled earlier this year.

Sweden will find itself sticking around for another year, and after this performance, it certainly deserves to.

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Semi-Final Preview: USA v Czechia

In a rematch of the 2022 Beijing Olympics quarter-finals which saw the USA emerge 4-1 victors over Czechia. The USA will not be able to take this match lightly given how well Czechia has performed so far in Denmark, and how close the match was in Beijing, despite what the scoreline suggests.

Klára Peslarová saved 55 of 58 attempts in that match (one empty net goal), and Czechia opened the scoring in that match, setting the hallmarks for an upset that unfortunately was not to be.

Klára Peslarová covering up the puck on one of her 55 saves. (Photo Credit: Czech Olympic Team/Twitter)

For Czechia, the key to victory will be finding a way to weather the onslaught from the USA (the USA have put 293 shots on goal) and finding those fine margins to strike the other way, given that the Americans have only given up four goals on 64 shots on goal faced all tournament.

By comparison, Czechia has only given up three goals on 93 shots on goal face, two of which have been on the penalty kill, same as the USA.

For the USA, who are riding high after a dominant performance over Hungary and celebrating Knight’s record-breaking achievement, it will want to continue its undefeated run and advance to the final.

The key to victory for the Americans is going to be to continue exactly what it has done so far. Dictate the pace of play, put shots on goal, force the opposition into mistakes, be strong defensively, and capitalise on every opportunity it gets.

If the USA can do these things, then the gold-medal game awaits.

Semi-Final: Canada v Switzerland

For the second straight year, Canada and Switzerland will face off in a semi-final at the Women’s Worlds. Canada won the previous match last year 4-0.

For Switzerland, an upset here would ensure just its second medal at the Women’s Worlds to date (Bronze in 2012).

Having only generated 62 shots on goal so far, and scoring just six of them, finding a way to break down a Canadian team that has only given up seven goals on 72 shots on goal faced (five of which were against the USA) could prove difficult for the Swiss.

The Canadians come together to celebrate a spot in the semi-finals. (Photo Credit: Hockey Canada/Twitter)

Therefore the path to victory for Switzerland will rely heavily on a strong performance in net by Andrea Bräendli, and strong defensive performance, given the lack of offence Switzerland has been able to produce.

For Canada, the path to victory will be the same as the USA.

The Canadians need to play the game they want to play and force the Swiss into making mistakes to generate a strong performance and carry that momentum into the final, where they will need to be at their best.

Defeat at major international tournaments is rare for Canada, and it would not want to go out at the semi-final stages for the second time in the last three editions of the Women’s World Championship.

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