By Simon Jennings
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) – The Olympic Athletes from Russia team trounced Switzerland 6-2 in an entertaining clash at the Kwandong Hockey Centre on Saturday to book a spot in the semi-finals of the women’s Olympic ice hockey tournament.
The Russians will take on four-times defending champions and heavy favorites Canada on Monday for a place in the final.
Anna Shokhina capitalized on Lara Stalder’s mistake to give the Russians an unlikely lead seven minutes into the first period after the Swiss forward took a fraction too long to control a routine pass.
The Russians were shorthanded by two when Shokhina pounced on Stalder to force a turnover before bearing down on the Swiss goal and scooping a wrist shot high into the net.
The Swiss equalized with less than 10 seconds played in the second period after Alina Muller collected a Christine Meier pass and wove her way past three defenders before flicking a backhanded shot over Russian goaltender Nadezhda Alexandrova.
Stalder made amends when she put the Swiss ahead with a classy shot into the top corner, but the Russians were back on level terms minutes later when Viktoria Kulishova tucked home a rebound.
Liana Ganeyeva extended the lead with just over a minute left in the second period when she directed Shokina’s powerful shot from just inside the blue line past Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling.
Shokhina scored twice more in the final period and Olga Sosina added a sixth late on to put the finishing touches on the rout.
Switzerland will play the unified Korean team, who they beat 8-0 earlier in the tournament, in a classification game on Sunday.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)