ROC had scored two early goals, chased starting goalie Andrea Braendli from the Swiss crease, and tried to hold on for the win.The Swiss, though, rallied for two goals in the third and forced overtime.
"[The goalie change] was just something I thought we needed," said winning coach Colin Muller. "I had that in my mind going into the game. If something happened early and we needed to wake up the team, we're going to do it because we have total trust in both our goalies. Both of them are world-class goalies for me at this level. Saskia came in and did a great job. She gave our team a little bit of a backbone to keep the game close."
Indeed, Maurer was letter perfect after coming in at the 8:32 mark of the opening period, stopping all 28 shots she faced after the Swiss fell behind 2-0 and looked down and out.
"Yes, it was 2-0, but that's the worst lead in hockey," Swiss captain Lara Stalder rationalized. "We never stopped believing, and, to be honest, some of the veterans saw some parallels to the bronze medal in Sochi. We were 2-0 down, and so everyone knew once we got one goal, we'd just keep rolling and no one can stop us."
ROC will now go to the 5th-8th placement games, which start tomorrow, while the Swiss will play in the semi-finals on Monday. Win or lose, they'll play for a medal of some colour on Tuesday.
"We were focused on scoring goals in the third and forgot about defence," said ROC captain Olga Sosina. "We just needed to play stronger in our own end, and we took bad penalties at the wrong time. Their goalie played great. She entered the game cold and made some great saves, but we need to score on those chances."
ROC doubled their lead at 8:32 during a delated penalty situation with Merkusheva on the bench for a sixth skater. Ilona Markova came out around the goal and wristed a high shot that actually went over the head of Braendli, who was down early.
Coach Muller pulled Braendli in favour of Saskia Maurer, and although the Swiss played a little better the rest of the period they took two unnecessary penalties and never threatened Merkusheva with a tough shot.
The Swiss came out with a bit of fire in the second but nothing came of it. Phoebe Staenz had a close-in chance but fired the puck right at Merkusheva, and Stalder tried her best to get the team going. She made two fine rushes but again couldn’t test the ROC goalie. The Swiss also had a power play in the period but had trouble even getting the puck into the ROC end.
Midway through the third, Stalder was at it again. She blocked a Landysh Falyakhova shot inside her blue line and skated the length of the ice, but as she made her deke to the backhand she lost control of the puck.
The Swiss finally scored a goal midway through the third, and it was a beauty. It started with a nice pass out of their end from Noemi Ryhner to Dominique Ruegg, who went into the ROC end on a two-on-two rush with Evelina Raselli. Raselli evaded her coverage, got a pass from Ruegg, and then made a beautiful deke before slipping the puck between Merkusheva's pads.
Moments later, the Swiss went to the power play, and Raselli had two great chances in tight to tie the game, but Merkusheva held her ground and kept the score 2-1.
But the Swiss got a late power play, and after taking a timeout coach Muller pulled Maurer to create a six-on-four. On the ensuing faceoff, Lara Christen made a great play to keep the puck in. She got it to Staenz, and her long shot was tipped by Ruegg, tying the game and sending it to overtime.
"Honestly, it was our goal to win this game," said Raselli. "We knew we were in the quarter-finals, but it's not easy to be in this group. We had tough losses against Finland and ROC in the preliminary round, but we knew we just needed to win this game. That was the goal from the beginning."