Women’s medal preview
by Adam Steiss|21 JAN 2020
Sweden is competing for gold while Slovakia plays for bronze. 
photo: Vedran Galijas / justpictures.ch
Just two games left and a lot on the line at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games as Japan get sets to play Sweden for the gold medal in the women’s ice hockey tournament, while Switzerland takes on Slovakia for bronze.

Sweden came into the final having had plenty of success at the Youth Olympic level, with the Damkronorna winning the previous two editions in Lillehammer 2016 and Innsbruck 2012.

The biggest challenge for the Swedes stands ahead of them with a finale against the Japanese, who have been the surprise of the tournament and could be considered favourites going into this matchup.
Japan has played exceptionally well at the 2020 Youth Olympics. 
photo: Vedran Galijas / justpictures.ch
Japan been playing stellar so far, leading al teams in scoring with 14 goals through three games. Makoto Ito is the tournament’s top scorer with nine points (4G+5A), and her linemate Hina Shimomukai is coming off a hat trick performance against Slovakia in the semi-final.

But playing for a medal is not a new thing for the Swedish program, and they have two Youth Olympic gold medals and have one of the tournament’s top goaltender in Ebba Svensson Traff.

“They have big players on the team, especially on defence,” said Japan captain Minami Kamada.

Japan is no slouch in net either. Yuzuyu Fujii initially came into the tournament as a backup to Nao Fukuda. But Fukuda was sidelined with the flu prior to the start of the tournament, thrusting Fujii into the starting spot. All she has done is surrender just two goals in three games at the tournament.

One potential test for Fujii is the fact that during the tournament she hasn’t had to make many shots as the Japanese team has been functioning incredibly well as a defensive unit. They will be counted on to shut down the Swedish top line of Nicole Hall, Julia Perjus and Beatrice Hjalm.

“We need to play a full game, skate hard and put pressure on their defence,” said Hall.

The importance of this Youth Olympic finale isn’t lost on the Japanese, who have never competed for a gold medal an Olympic competition.

“We have taken this tournament game by game, and we want to finish well.” said Shimomukai.

In the bronze medal game, tournament hosts Switzerland will be counting on a strong home crowd to help the country overcome Slovakia.

The matchup is a repeat of the Lillehammer 2016 bronze medal game, which saw the Swiss defeat the Slovaks 5-2. Slovakia is expected to put up more of a fight in this game as the country seeks to earn its first Youth Olympic ice hockey medal.

The Swiss will be challenged by goaltender Laura Medvidova who has been busy at the tournament, leading all goalies with 73 stops. The Swiss have also had troubely getting pucks in the net, out of all the playoff teams the lowest scoring team with just tow goal sin three games.

But in what has been an exceptionally well-attended ice hockey tournament in both the men’s and women’s categories, look for the Swiss to get a boost from the crowd as they look to secure they second straight Youth Olympic bronze.
Switzerland has been playing in front of big crowds at Vaudoise Arena. 
photo: Vedran Galijas / justpictures.ch