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Olympics-Ice hockey-Finland outclass Switzerland to win women’s bronze – Metro US

Olympics-Ice hockey-Finland outclass Switzerland to win women’s bronze

Ice Hockey – Women’s Bronze Medal Game – Finland v
Ice Hockey – Women’s Bronze Medal Game – Finland v Switzerland

BEIJING (Reuters) -Finland launched an offensive assault to overpower Switzerland 4-0 on Wednesday and claim the Olympic women’s ice hockey bronze medal, their fourth in the event.

Viivi Vainikka slipped the puck past Swiss goaltender Andrea Braendli midway through the first period to draw first blood for the Finns, who unleashed a barrage of 47 shots on goal throughout the affair. Finland netminder Anni Keisala faced just 15 shots but turned away all of them to record her second shutout of the Games.

“It’s always great to play a bronze medal game in an Olympics, but to get a shutout makes it even sweeter,” said Keisala.

The Swiss put up an admirable defensive effort in the second period but buckled in the third, as Finland launched their final assault.

Three-times Olympian Susanna Tapani scored a short-handed goal within the first four minutes of the final period. Defenceman Nelli Laitinen later converted on a powerplay chance and four-times Olympian Michelle Karvinen completed the scoring in the final minute.

“We were a little bit more relaxed (in the third period) and we found the fun part of the hockey. You always need to have fun,” captain Jenni Hiirikoski told reporters after the game.

“These games are always tough … it’s small things that will make the difference.”

An elated Finnish team cheered and hugged in front of a subdued crowd inside Beijing’s Wukesong Sports Centre when the final buzzer sounded, as some members of the vanquished Swiss team, who last reached the podium with a bronze medal effort in Sochi in 2014, sat slumped on the ice.

“It’s hard to sum it up right now,” said Swiss assistant captain Alina Muller, who also settled for fourth with her national team at the world championships last year.

“Disappointment… I think we had a really good chance to win a medal here,” she said.

While Finland were unable to upgrade from their past history of bronzes, the result marked sweet redemption from a disappointing start to the tournament.

After claiming second at the 2019 world championship, Finland were expected to make an impact in Beijing but lost their first three games after their coach left the country due to a family emergency.

They found their footing to record a shutout win over Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in their final preliminary and beat Japan 7-1 in the quarter-final.

“We had a hard start in the tournament, but I think that’s what made this team. We came together and just got better and better,” Keisala said.

Finland’s win means the same three countries will be on the podium as in Pyeongchang four years ago, with the top two spots to be determined on Thursday when Canada faces off against arch rival and defending champion United States.

The ice hockey powerhouses are the only countries to claim Olympic gold since the women’s tournament was introduced to the programme in 1998.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery, editing by Ed Osmond and Bill Berkrot)

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