Four teams still vying for gold at U18 Women's World Championship
Team USA will play Sweden and Finland will face off against Canada in the semifinals. The Americans have yet to lose in the tournament, outscoring opponents 18-1 in three games.
MADISON, Wis. — Only four teams remain in the hunt for a gold medal at the 2022 IIHF U18 Women's World Championships; the USA, Canada, Finland, and Sweden.
The Americans are the lone unbeaten team left in the final four, with a rematch against the Swedes — who the U.S. beat 6-1 in its first game of the tournament — looming in the semifinals.
In the quarterfinal round, Canada rebounded from a 7-0 loss to Team USA in the final preliminary round game to take down Slovakia 7-0, outshooting the Slovaks 65-5 in the process. Sweden edged out Czechia, 2-1, in the other quarterfinal to earn its trip to the semis.
With its win, Canada will face Finland in the semifinals. The Canadians were upset by the Finns in a 2-0 preliminary round loss, the first time the team has ever lost to Finland in the history of the tournament.
"I think we'll come out a little bit more loose, we know what to expect, we have couple games under our belt so we're really excited for the opportunity to play them again," said Canadian assistant coach Vicky Sunohara.
Canadian forward Jade Iginla made her tournament debut on Friday against Slovakia. The Brown commit tallied an assist in her first game back after missing multiple games due to an injury.
Canadian player McKenna Van Gelder added, "I think we need to move the puck ... we really need to get shots on net, quality shots from inside their house, and really need to have numbers in the neutral zones ... back pressure, forecheck, and just playing for each other because once again that's just a big part of our Canadian identity."
Sweden will also get a rematch opportunity against a powerful Team USA in the semifinals.
"I'm very happy to have another chance (at the Americans)," said Swedish head coach Madeleine Ostling. "We need to step up in activity, in battles, 50/50 battles, and also believe a little bit more in ourselves."
The Swedes won't be surprised by the dominant offense that the Americans have demonstrated thus far in the tournament, outscoring their opponents by a margin of 18-1 in three games.
"We just need to play with discipline ... we know they're good but we need to play our game and that's our game plan," said Swedish defender Mira Jungaker.
For Team USA, who earned a bye into the semifinals due to their finishing first in Group A, the aim is to get back to what has worked so far.
"Every person on this team has one hundred percent bought in to the little things that we want to teach in sharing the puck, communicating — and we have such an unselfish team and I think that really shows," said Team USA head coach Katie Lachapelle.
She added that the team used their quarterfinal bye on Friday to rest and spend time together as a team before hitting the rink to practice again on Saturday.
Team USA's Laila Edwards and Sydney Morrow (along with Czechia's Adela Sapovalivova) are tied for the tournament lead in points with seven.
Slovakia and Czechia will play for fifth place at 6:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, May 12, while the semifinal rounds are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (Canada vs. Finland) and 6:30 p.m. (USA vs. Sweden).
Despite their quarterfinal losses, the Slovaks and the Czechs were very proud of their efforts.
"We quite literally made history, and I'm really happy to be staying up in this division so the younger generations can try it out," said Slovakian defender Lily Stern.
Switzerland and Germany are playing in a relegation series. Switzerland won the first contest, 1-0. Game Two is scheduled for Sunday at 2:30 p.m.