ICE HOCKEY: U.S. women rocket through Group A, start playoffs on Thursday vs. Japan

Alex Carpenter leads the break for the U.S with Amanda Kessel on her right (Photo: USA Hockey)

The four-time defending World Champion U.S. women finished the round-robin action in the 2019 IIHF World Championships in Espoo (FIN) as the definite favorites to reach the championship final for the 19th straight time.

The American squad wasn’t just undefeated (4-0); they pounded their opposition by 27:4 in goals, with one close game: a 3-2 win over arch-rival Canada. The final group standings:

Group A:
1. 12 points: United States (4-0)
2. 9 points: Canada (3-1)
3. 6 points: Finland (2-2)
4. 3 points: Russia (1-3)
5. 0 points: Switzerland (0-4)

Group B:
1. 12 points: Czech Republic (4-0)
2. 6 points: Germany (1-1 + 1 overtime win + 1 overtime loss)
3. 6 points: Japan (1-1 + 1 overtime win + 1 overtime loss)
4. 4 points: Sweden (1-2 + 1 overtime loss)
5. 2 points: France (0-3 + 1 overtime win)

In the IIHF’s odd playoff system, all five Group A teams qualify for the quarterfinals, as do the top three teams in Group B. So:

● 11 April: United States vs. Japan
● 11 April: Russia vs. Switzerland

● 11 April: Canada vs. Germany
● 11 April: Finland vs. Czech Republic

The semis will be played on 13 April and the medal matches on the 14th. In terms of the match-ups through the semis, the U.S. did not play Japan (in Group B), but smashed Russia, 10-0, and defeated the Swiss, 8-0.

To no one’s surprise, the U.S. and Canada dominate the scoring charts, and the U.S. has three of the top five scorers in the tournament so far:

1. 7 points: Kendall Coyne Schofield (USA: 4 goals + 3 assists)
1. 7 points: Natalie Spooner (CAN: 4+3)
3. 6 points: Alex Carpenter (USA: 2+4)
3. 6 points: Brianne Jenner (CAN: 2+4)
5. 5 points: Hilary Knight (USA: 4+1)

In terms of the overall team performance, the U.S. is 27-4 in goal differential and Canada is 19-5. The U.S. has had Alex Rigsby in goal for the wins over Finland, Canada and Switzerland; Olympic hero Maddie Rooney was in goal for the shutout against Russia.

Canada had Emerance Maschmeyer between the pipes for the loss to the U.S. (3-2), Genevieve Lacasse for the 5-1 win over Russia and Shannon Szabados for the opening shutout vs. the Swiss (6-0) and the 6-1 win over Finland.

Click here for the U.S. schedule and game times on the NHL Network; look for game results here.