Swiss sweep series, Japan relegated

Switzerland defeated Japan yesterday 4-0 to sweep the best-of-three relegation series. The Swiss won Game 1 Friday by a score of 3-1. The series win keeps the Swiss in the main world championship tournament next year in Plymouth, Mich., while Japan has now been relegated to the B tournament, where teams vie to be the one squad to advance to the main tourney. Japan's place will be replaced by Germany, which won the B tournament last week in Norway. Allen Douglas/KTW Japan won't be returning to the IIHF Women's World Championship next season.

The Japanese lost 4-0 to Switzerland in Game 2 of the best-of-three relegation round series on McArthur Island yesterday afternoon, losing their spot in the 2017 world championship in Plymouth, Mich.

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The Swiss won back-to-back games in the series -- 3-1 on Friday -- and staved off relegation in 2016. The European nation outscored the Japanese 7-1 in the relegation round.

Evelina Raselli picked up her first point of the two-game series in the first period, opening the scoring midway through the frame to put Switzerland out to a 1-0 lead.

A little more than a minute into the second, Anja Stiefel extended the lead to 2-0, beating Japanese goaltender Akane Konishi, who was seeing her first action in the 2016 world championship.

Lara Stadler scored in 1:14 later, her third point of the night and seventh of the tournament, to put the Swiss ahead 3-0. She would also factor in on the Swiss' fourth goal.

Switzerland's Christine Hueni picked up points on all four of her team's goals on Sunday -- she scored the empty-net marker to make it 4-0 -- bringing her team leading total to 10 points, including four goals, in five games.

At the other end of the ice, Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling stopped all 20 Japanese shots for the shutout. Konishi finished the night with 19 saves on 23 shots.

The Japanese have played in the world championship's elite group six times and will look to book a return for 2018 by winning the 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship Division 1 Group A tournament next year.

Meanwhile, for Switzerland, the relegation-round victory preempted what would have been a disastrous finish for the Swiss program in Kamloops.

Despite playing in Group B in the 2016 World Championship, Switzerland was expected to have an outside shot at a medal-round finish this week, after falling in a quarter-final matchup against Finland in last year's world championship in Malmö, Sweden, and winning a bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The program will look to regain its footing in the 2017 world championship.

Classification round

Sweden scored three times in a span of two minutes to erase a 2-0 Czech Republic lead in classification game to determine fifth and sixth place.

The goals, coming to start the third period, ended any hope the Czechs had of winning the game on McArthur Island as they fell 4-2.

With the win, Sweden finished fifth in Kamloops, while the Czech Republic finished sixth.

Olympic qualification

By virtue of finishing in the top six in Kamloops, the United States, Canada, Finland, Sweden and Russia have secured enough points in the world ranking system to qualify for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Sweden and Russia overtook Switzerland, which dropped from fourth to sixth and will look to pick up its Olympic berth in a qualification tournament in 2017.

Host Korea automatically receives a berth in the eight-team tournament.

The exact seeding of teams in the 2018 Olympics will be determined following today's gold-medal game.

© Kamloops This Week

 


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