ZURICH – Michelle Karvinen and Karoliina Rantamäki each scored two goals to lead Finland to a 5-1 win over Sweden in the first quarter-final. The win gives Finland a semi-final date with Canada on Saturday and a chance to avenge a 2-0 loss to the Olympic champions a few days ago.
Minnamari Tuominen also scored for Finland while Erika Holst got the lone Sweden goal early in the third period. The loss sends Sweden out of the final round at such an early date for the first time in a decade. The team finished seventh in 2001. The Swedes will now play for fifth place.
"We're playing our system and everyone believes in it," Karvinen said. "We've been practising for the last two years, and it's beginning to work well, especially against Canada, it worked really, really well."
Karvinen opened the scoring with a quick shot that hit the inside bar and came out so quickly that play continued. It wasn’t until the first whistle that referee Melanie Bordeleau consulted with the video-goal judge. Replay showed a goal, and two minutes had to be put back on the clock.
"I knew it went in and I was so mad the referee didn't call it, but I knew they would go to the video judge," Karvinen said, adding with a laugh: "The ref just didn't see it – it was too fast a shot!"
There was nothing to debate about Karvinen's second goal. Tanja Niskanen made a great pass from the left faceoff circle to Karvinen in the slot, and she drilled a perfect wrist shot under the glove of Sara Grahn for a 2-0 lead. The quick start prompted Swedish coach Niclas Hogberg to call a timeout and settle his squad. To emphasize his point, he also took Grahn out of the crease and put in Kim Martin.
The moves had little effect. Tuominen found a loose puck in front of Martin and smacked it in before the goalie could find it. The 3-0 score, at 13:08, put Sweden in a deep hole.
Sweden had a much stronger second period but was still unable to penetrate the Finnish defence which had shown itself so well in allowing only one goal to Canada three days ago (plus and empty netter).
"Our system is that every time we have a chance to go hard on a player with the puck, we go hard. But if they have control of the puck, we know who is supposed to do what, so they don't have anyone to pass to," Karvinen explained.
She also noted that what makes the system so effective on a team with ten newcomers is that most of the young players came from the national U18 team where the same system is used.
A late power play in the second period gave Finland one more chance to extend the lead. Rantamäki knocked in a loose puck at 17:44 to make it 4-0 and put the game pretty much out of reach. Karvinen earned an assist on the play, her third point of the game.
Holst scored at 3:43 on a power play to give the Swedes some life. Soon after they had a lengthy two-man advantage but failed to capitalize. Rantamäki added a late power-play goal to close out the scoring.