BURLINGTON – Switzerland rallied twice in the first, scored the only goal of the second, and poured it on in the third to win its first ever medal—a bronze—at the Women’s World Championship by beating Finland, 6-2.
It was a victory made possible largely by the incredible play all tournament of Florence Schelling in goal. Again today she stopped one point-blank shot after another from the Finns. Shots favoured Finland 52-25, but Schelling was better than her opponent, Noora Raty, who looked shaky in allowing three goals in the third period before being pulled.
"I can't believe it yet," Schelling said half an hour after the victory. "We know it; we're celebrating--but we still can't believe it. This is a huge win for women's hockey, knowing the small teams can compete with the big teams."
"They were so tired," coach Rene Kammerer said of his Swiss players, "but they believed. What they showed us in the last period was unbelievable. They were so cool and calm. Flo[rence] was outstanding. For me, she is the best goaltender of the tournament."
Captain Kathrin Lehmann announced after the game she was retiring from the national team. "I won a bronze medal in my first tournament when I was 15, so it feels like I'm closing the circle with this bronze," she said.
As for the game, Lehmann said the team had no particular strategy. "We knew we were the underdog, so we had nothing to lose," she said. "No one would ever have though we would come so far after losing to Germany at the start."
"We just wanted to go all out," Schelling added. "This was the last game of the season."
The first period was entertaining and evenly played, and twice the Swiss rallied after being scored upon. Annina Rajahuhta got the opening goal on the power play, making a great rush through the middle and beating Schelling with a low shot to the stick side at 4:48.
Midway through, Katrin Nabholz tied the game as she followed the play to the net. Anja Steifel barrelled in on goal, but although Noora Raty made the original save the puck came right to Nabholz and she drilled it into the empty side.
Anne Helin gave the Finns their second lead on a two-man advantage. Michelle Karvinen gave her a perfect pass at the side of the net, and Helin merely redirected it in. But the Swiss capitalized on a sloppy play by the Finns late in the period.
Raty froze the puck with 4.3 seconds left, but the Swiss controlled the puck and Sara Benz whipped a shot between the goalie’s pads with exactly one second left in the first.
The Swiss took their first lead when they scored the only goal of the second period, midway through on a power play. Julia Marty’s point shot was deftly redirected in front by Sabrina Zollinger, and now, incredibly, the Swiss looked to be on their way to a bronze medal.
Captain Kathrin Lehmann got the fourth goal for the Swiss on a wild scramble in the Finnish crease at 10:29. Anja Stiefel got the fifth goal late in the third to more or less seal the victory. Evelina Raselli got the final goal, after which Raty was pulled.
When asked about the impact of the medal on the national program, Lehmann was succinct: "We're a lot closer to an Olympic medal than the men," she offered.
"She's right," Schelling later agreed with a bronze-medal smile.