This is my prediction for the 2012 Women’s World Championship, which begins right now. Canada and the United States can be considered the “Big Two” of women’s hockey, and predicting them to reach the finals is always a safe bet. Finland and Sweden can be considered the “Little Two” and are usually the other medal contenders. The remaining teams are well–behind the top four (especially the top two), occasional upsets notwithstanding.
As for background, Canada and the United States teams have met in all of the previous thirteen finals. Finland has played in every bronze medal game. The only other team to win a medal was Russia in 2001. As much as I would prefer someone else to make the finals, I predict that the current streaks will continue.
Since I am Canadian I will be cheering for Team Canada. (Careful readers, noting this and my desire for some team other than Canada and the United States to make the finals, should deduce that I would like the United States to be upset [which has happened!]) If Finland or Sweden’s goalies pull a fast one there might be an upset. No one else has a snowball’s chance in hell of making the finals, and only a little better chance of winning a medal.
The IIHF World Ranking at the end of this tournament will determine who automatically qualifies for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Russia qualifies as hosts, and the top five other teams automatically qualify. Canada, the United States, and Finland are already in. Sweden and Switzerland are in control of their own destinies, and will qualify in one of any number of possible ways. Slovakia and (especially) Germany will need Sweden and/or Switzerland to do especially badly in order to qualify. I therefore predict that Switzerland and Sweden will qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Germany and Slovakia will have to play in qualification tournaments.
My predictions for the final placements:
- Canada – All of the Canadians who travel to Vermont to see the tournament will make it almost like home ice. They will not be disappointed as their team will win it all again.
- United States – Their streak will come to and end on home ice. There will be no challenges to Canada’s early years dynasty.
- Finland – Finland will continue being bronzed.
- Sweden – Sweden will rebound from their weaker finish last year to challenge for a medal. But they’ll lose the semifinal.
- Russia – Easily the weakest team in Group A, they will finish in a position more appropriate for their ranking.
- Switzerland – Switzerland will maintain their position for the time being. Based on the number of female players some people might expect them to play in the relegation round, but since they actually get more than token support from their federation I’m predicting sixth place instead.
- Germany – This is a dark horse prediction, but I will be a contrarian and will predict that Germany will be seventh.
- Slovakia – Zsuper Zuzana Tomčíková will steal some games, but it won’t be enough. Slovakia will be relegated this year. It will be close, however.