Looking for heroes

WW18: Big prizes for winners of last preliminary round games

Husby Ishall Stockholm  Sweden

On Tuesday, Switzerland's Sabrina Zollinger and Germany's goaltender Nadja Kruber get another chance to step up. Photo: Francois Laplante / HHOF-IIHF Images

STOCKHOLM – The standings in the two groups are identical: two teams with the full six points, and two teams with zero. Two teams vying for the bye to the semi-final, and two teams desperate to avoid the relegation round games.

Winners win big. But the losers live to win another day.

In Group A, Switzerland and Finland play in the afternoon game for the place in the playoff round. Both teams lost big to Canada, but pushed Germany to their heels, only to lose. Finland is yet to score a goal in the tournament, while Switzerland’s offence, three goals, has come mostly from Lara Stalder, who scored one goal and assisted one in the two games.

On the other hand, Finland’s goaltender Isabella Portnoj has an impressive 91.57 save percentage in the two games in which she’s made tournament’s second-highest 76 saves.

“We considered this our most important game here, but now we’ll just have to beat Finland,” said Switzerland’s captain Sarah Forster after their game against Germany.

Later on Tuesday, Canada and Germany will play for the top spot in Group A. Germany surprised the Finns in their first game, shutting them out in the game. In their second game, against Switzerland, the team’s big players were Jacqueline Janzen, who got a hat trick, and goaltender Nadja Kruber, who stopped 30 of 32 Swiss shots in the game, and whose tournament shutout streak was snapped at 105:26 minutes, by Stephanie Kamber.

Canada, in turn, has a 15-1 goal differential in the two games, in which it has also outshot the opponents 118-35.

“There's a lot of positive energy after the win for sure,” Canada’s captain Sarah Edney said after the game against Finland. “We're only getting better as we play more games together,” she added.

In Group B, Sweden has squeaked by to the playoff stage, with two wins by the narrowest possible margin. On Tuesday, they will be thrown into a real test, against Team USA, who, like Canada in Group A, has only been scored on once, they have an 18-1 goal differential and they have outshot their opponents 151-15.

“It’s a fine line between working hard all game, not picking up any bad habits and not running up the score and staying respectful to the game and the opponent,” Team USA’s head coach Jodi McKenna said.

“But we have to focus on what we do, and keep ourselves to a higher standard. We’re trying to be our best selves,” said head coach Jodi McKenna.

Team USA’s Amanda Pelkey leads the tournament in scoring, with three goals and an assist in two games. Not surprisingly, the top nine players in the plus/minus statistics are Americans, with plus-5.

Japan and the Czech Republic will have to play for the last spot in the playoff stage, and for avoiding relegation round. Both teams have scored two goals in the tournament, but can lean on solid goaltending and a team effort.

Japan’s Shizuka Takahashi has been the busiest goaltender so far. She’s faced 95 shots in two games, and has turned away 87 of them.

A key for both teams is to stay out of the penalty box. The Czech Republic’s defenceman Aneta Tejralova has five minors in two games, most in the tournament.

Games on Tuesday:
Group A
Switzerland - Finland, Husby, 15:00 CET
Canada - Germany, Husby, 18:30 CET

Group B
Czech Republic - Japan, Stora Mossen, 16:00 CET
USA - Sweden, Stora Mossen, 19:30 CET




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