International Ice Hockey Federation

WW Top 25 Stories: #4

WW Top 25 Stories: #4

Switzerland comeback earns historic medal

Published 01.04.2015 11:19 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
WW Top 25 Stories: #4
The Swiss women’s national team celebrates after winning the bronze medal game of the 2014 Olympics against Sweden. 15 players from the Sochi 2014 are playing in Malmo. Photo: Jeff Vinnick / HHOF-IIHF Images
20 February 2014. The first inkling of something big came in Burlington, Vermont at the 2012 Women’s World Championship.

The Swiss went undefeated in the preliminary round and then knocked off Russia, 5-2, to advance to the bronze-medal game after being taken out by the U.S. in the semi-finals.

The Swiss were dominant in that medal game, winning 6-2 over Finland to claim its first Women’s Worlds medal since the tournament began in 1990.

Cue to 2014, the Sochi Olympics, and the setup could not have been different. In 2012, the Swiss were in the weaker Group B; in Sochi, they were in Group A and had to play Canada, United States, and Finland in consecutive games of the preliminary round.

But good things happened. They lost to Canada, 5-0, but that was the closest score ever between the teams. They lost a blowout to the U.S., but then took Finland to overtime before losing, 4-3.

In the quarter-finals, they beat Russia, 2-0, thanks to great play from goalie Florence Schelling. In the semi-finals, they lost to Canada, 3-1, again a record low-scoring loss, limiting Canada to only three goals.

That set up a date with Sweden for Olympic bronze on the afternoon of February 20, 2014, in Sochi.

The first two periods were dominated by the Swedes. They took a 2-0 lead and were playing flawless defence in front of goalie Valentina Wallner.

The Swiss, however, were buoyed by their performance so far in this tournament. They came out strong in the third and got on the board at 1:18 thanks to Sara Benz. The game was now within reach.

Five minutes later, Phoebe Stanz scored on a power play to tie the game, shifting all momentum to the Swiss. When Jessica Lutz scored at 13:43 to put the Swiss ahead, 3-2, the bench went berserk. But there was still plenty of game left to play.

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It wasn’t until Alina Muller scored into the empty net with 1:07 left to play that the team relaxed, but as it turned out that that joy was premature. The Swedes continued to press, and when Pernilla Winberg scored at 19:16, the game was again left hanging in the balance.

The Swiss responded to the pressure, killed off the remaining 44 seconds, and then mobbed Schelling, the MVP of Sochi and the main reason the team had accomplished all that it had.

The elation was overwhelming as the realization quickly set in with the players about what they had accomplished.

"It's amazing we came back from being down 2-0," Muller enthused. "The older players and the coaches really encouraged us in the second intermission. We really believed in ourselves. It's amazing."

“None of us has ever participated in an Olympic medal game, so before the game we were incredibly nervous," Schelling added. “We never gave up. We never stopped believing. A huge change for us was beating Russia in the quarter-finals, 2-0. And then going into the semi-final and losing to Canada only 3-1... That was incredible for us to make us believe today we could win the bronze medal."

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of women's hockey in the IIHF, writer Andrew Podnieks is counting down the top 25 stories in women's international hockey history. One story each day will appear until the Number 1 story is unveiled the morning of the gold-medal game of the 2015 Women's Worlds in Malmo, Sweden, on April 4.

Earlier Top 25 Stories:
#5: First women inducted into IIHF Hall of Fame
#6: Women’s hockey becomes an Olympic event
#7: Rider organizes an international tournament
#8: 15-year-old Wickenheiser makes her debut
#9: USA finally wins WW gold in 2005
#10: Lightning strikes for Manon of the crease
#11: 15-year-old Martin leads Sweden to bronze
#12: Angela James cut prior to Nagano
#13: Amanda Kessel misses 2014/15 with concussion
#14: IIHF removes body-checking from women’s hockey
#15: Jenni Hiirikoski becomes first Euro two-timer
#16: Former NHLer Yashin leads Russian women to bronze
#17: Cammi Granato cut before Turin
#18: Visitors win twice in North American finals
#19: IIHF makes Women’s Worlds official for 1990
#20: Rogge issues challenge to women’s hockey
#21: IIHF goes to all-women officials
#22: Shannon Miller recruits Euros for NCAA
#23: IIHF introduces junior event for women
#24: Zorn a goalie and skater both
#25: Russia-Switzerland a dandy display in 2011


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