BURLINGTON – Noora Raty stopped 43 of 44 shots as Finland defeated Sweden 2-1 tonight to advance to a semi-finals showdown with Canada on Friday afternoon. The two teams met earlier in the week, Canada eking out a 3-2 win.
Sweden will now play Russia to decide 5th and 6th place. The last time the Swedes beat Finland was in 2007 at the Women’s World Championship by a 1-0 score.
The difference tonight was goaltending. Raty was nothing short of sensational in net for Finland while Sweden’s number-one goalie, Kim Martin, was out with a groin injury and unable to play.
Sara Grahn started and allowed a goal just 21 seconds after the opening faceoff, and the Swedes never really recovered. Nonetheless, both goalies made fine saves all game long, but Raty was just that little bit better.
"I felt pretty good," Raty, who had admitted to feeling less than 100 per cent earlier in the week, said. "I had yesterday off and got some rest. I felt good this morning. I got a couple of easy saves in the beginning and went from there."
"Finland's goalie was good, but I think we played really well also," Grahn noted of the team's 44-shot performance. "We just couldn't score." Grahn faced 26 shots from the Finns.
The early goal came from Anne Helin as Finland took the puck into the Swedish end from the get-go. Susanna Tapani scored later in the period, outwaiting Grahn after taking a great centring pass from Michelle Karvinen.
Both teams had plenty of chances to score in the second period as referee Dina Allen called eight minor penalties (four a side) but the penalty killing was as effective as the power plays were ineffective. And both goalies sparkled in the process.
Elin Holmlov got Sweden's goal at 13:04 of the final period from her knees, swatting at a puck from in close that Raty didn't see as it went in the far side. "She made some nice moves and then took a shot that hit a skate. It was a bit of a flukey goal," Raty said.
Erika Grahm hit the post late in the game, but the puck stayed out and Finland hung on for the win.
"We wanted a medal, but we didn't play that well this tournament, so we are disappointed," goalie Grahn said.