International Ice Hockey Federation

Finns oust Switzerland

Finns oust Switzerland

Karvinen pots winner, Schelling can't save Swiss

Published 01.04.2015 19:37 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Finns oust Switzerland
MALMO, SWEDEN - APRIL 1: Finland's Jenni Hiirikoski #6, Riikka Valila #13, Rosa Lindstedt #4 and Michelle Karvinen #20 celebrate after a first period goal against Switzerland's Florence Schelling #41 while Sabrina Zollinger #11 looks on during quarterfinal round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Finland beat the Swiss 3-0 in Wednesday’s first quarter-final to advance to the semi-finals versus Canada. Michelle Karvinen got the first-period winner.

Linda Valimaki and Rosa Lindstedt added singles in the third. Unlike at their other games in Malmo, the Swiss fans didn't get to ring their cowbells to celebrate a goal on Wednesday.

Star Swiss goalie Florence Schelling did her best to keep her team alive. The 2014 Olympic MVP and all-time goalie leader in Women's Worlds games came in with a tournament-best 94.3 save percentage, but her heroics weren't enough as Finland outshot Switzerland 31-15.

"I’m utterly satisfied with the way we played," said Finnish head coach Pasi Mustonen. "We knew we were the better team if we put our souls into the game, and we did it. We really deserved to win the game."

Switzerland, which has only one Women’s Worlds medal in history (bronze in 2012), will go home empty-handed. The Swiss made history with their first Olympic medal, also bronze, in Sochi last year.

Finland has played in every Women’s Worlds bronze medal game – 15 straight since the tournament started in 1990 – and that streak will likely continue now.

Beating Canada to make the final is a long shot – but of course, that was also the case for the Swedes when they toppled the favoured Americans in the 2006 Olympic semi-final in Turin. The Finns last medaled with 2011’s bronze.

"We have a dream," said Finnish captain Jenni Hiirikoski. "It’s a medal."

In this win-or-go-home situation, the teams came out flying.

The Swiss brought in the tournament’s top-ranked power play (41.7 percent) against the lowest-ranked penalty kill (66.6 percent). But the Finns battled to kill off their first shorthanded situation. Forward Susanna Tapani hobbled off after blocking a drive from Swiss captain Julia Marty.

Just past the midway mark of the opening stanza, 2014 Olympic scoring leader Karvinen undressed Reica Staiger with a great move and cut to the net to unleash a backhand, but Schelling was there with the glove.

Karvinen opened the scoring at 13:47 on Finland’s first power play. Hiirikoski sent the puck toward the net from the top of the right faceoff circle, with Lindstedt providing traffic in front, and Karvinen grabbed the disc and roofed it. It was her first goal of the tournament, as she missed two games earlier due to illness.

"It ended up as a rebound right in front of the net," said Karvinen. "I know Schelling’s a big goalie, so I had to get it up high. That’s what I went for right away."

The Finns outshot Switzerland 10-3 through 20 minutes and could have increased their lead if not for Schelling’s play.

Finland continued laying siege to the Swiss net, preventing their red-and-white foes from even getting a shot on goal in the second period till about the nine-minute mark.

With Hiirikoski serving an interference minor, the Swiss generated just one serious scoring chance. Finnish netminder Meeri Raisanen said no to Anje Stiefel from point blank-range, and Lindstedt and Alina Muller were sent off together for their role in a scuffle as Raisanen scrambled to cover up.

The Finns continued to press. With about six minutes left in the middle frame, Hiirikoski sprang Niina Makinen on a breakaway, but Schelling denied her backhand attempt.

Although Finland took back-to-back minors at the end of the second period, the Swiss power play outage continued at the worst possible time.

The Finns came close on an early power play in the third, with Riikka Valila moving the puck creatively. They got a two-player advantage for 33 seconds, but Schelling made a miraculous right-pad save on Valila. That second goal seemed elusive.

Finally, it came. At 10:26, with 11 seconds left remaining in a goalie-interference penalty to Stiefel, Valimaki skated into the Swiss end and beat Schelling with a short-side wrister, using a defender as a screen. The shot seemed to surprise Schelling.

"It’s important that we get our power play working, especially now that we’re going to meet Canada," said Karvinen. "It’s in those situations that we’ve got to score the goals. That we got one today gives us a little confidence for the game on Friday."

Lindstedt added an empty-netter for insurance with 3;11 remaining. The Finns, however, were more concerned at the time about the fate of Karvinen, who was helped off the ice after the play after being leveled in the neutral zone by Lara Stalder's shoulder. No penalty was called on the play.

Hiirikoski was also shaken up along the boards in the Swiss end with under two minutes play, and the Finnish bench complained vociferously.

When the final buzzer sounded, Raisanen had her second career Worlds shutout. More importantly, her team was moving on to go for a medal.

"Meeri was amazing today in our own zone," said Hiirikoski. "Maybe there are a couple of things we can still improve, but our play with the puck was very good today."

Switzerland's three best players of the tournament were honoured: Florence Schelling, Julia Marty, and Anja Stiefel.

It was the tenth meeting all-time between these two nations, who have never clashed in a quarter-final before.

Finland entered the quarter-finals with an all-time record of seven wins and two losses against Switzerland, but those losses came recently (2011 and 2012). The Finns won both their Olympic meetings with Switzerland (2006, 2014), including a 4-3 overtime decision in Sochi.


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