ZURICH – Tatyana Burina scored at 2:58 of overtime to give Russia a 5-4 win over Switzerland and advance to the semi-finals against United States tomorrow in the World Women's Championship. It was, perhaps, the finest European women's hockey game ever played.
Olga Sosina had scored a power-play goal with 5:39 left to cap a dramatic comeback by the Russians, who had trailed 3-0 in the third period. Then, with 43 seconds left, Stefanie Marty tied the game, 4-4, for the Swiss to send the game to a fourth period.
Five scorers counted goals for the Russians. Sara Benz scored twice in the second period for the Swiss.
"When we got down 3-0, it was a tough moment," Iya Gavrilova conceded. "In the third period, we came together as a team. When we got that first goal, we knew we had a chance. Our manager talked to us at the intermission and said that our guys were down 3-0 to the Canadians in the third period in Buffalo and came back and won [the U20], 5-3. We talked about the Russian character and how strong we are as a nation."
The win gives Russia its second berth in the semis and came tonight before an impressive and vocal crowd of 4,123 at Hallenstadion. The Swiss players were an inspired lot whose qualities included tenacious forechecking, opportune scoring, and stifling defence, outplaying Russia in every aspect of the game for two periods – and then watched the Russians mount an historic comeback reminiscent of the Russians' U20 team that rallied against Canada last January.
The Swiss struck just 35 seconds into the game thanks to a weak decision by Russian goalie Anna Prugova. A high, bouncing puck came her way, but she froze in her goal as Darcia Leimgruber got control of it and outwaited the goalie before wristing it in the open side for the early lead.
The rest of the period was evenly played, even though the Swiss had three straight power plays in quick succession. In fact, the Russians had several fine chances to tie the game, and only some fine goaltending from Florence Schelling and inaccurate shooting kept it a 1-0 game after 20 minutes. The entertaining period had 31 shots, 19 by the Swiss.
The Swiss added to their lead early in the second period. Julia Marty shot, but Prugova came well out to cut down the angle and make the save, but the rebound came right back to Marty, who quickly passed it through the crease, where Sara Benz knocked it into the wide open net.
The back-breaker appeared to come with just over six minutes left in the period. Benz chased down a loose puck in centre ice and skated as hard as she could towards the goal, harassed by Alexandra Kapustina all the way. Nonetheless, Benz controlled the puck and slipped it between the pads of Prugova to make it a 3-0 game on a sensational effort.
Yekaterina Smolentseva started the historic comeback with a goal midway through the final period, deking Schelling nicely before slipping the puck between the goalie's pads. A few minutes later, Olga Permyakova connected on a give-and-go on the power play, prompting Swiss coach René Kammerer to call a timeout.
The tactic had no effect on the Russians. Just 74 seconds later Kapustina ripped a hard shot over Schelling's shoulder for the tying marker. That set the stage for Sosina's incredible go-ahead goal, a deflection in front on another power play to stun the pro-Swiss crowd.
Not to be outdone, Marty scored off a scramble in the final minute to send the game to overtime, but the Russians were not going to give up on this night.
"We said at the bench we can't lose this game," Gavrilova said. "We said if we get a chance to move the puck up ice, we'll do it. We saw they were getting tired in the third period, and we lost to them in a shootout last year, so we didn't want to do that this year."
And they didn't – thanks to Burina's heroics in overtime.