Finland advances to semis
by Andrew Podnieks|11 APR 2024
photo: Andre Ringuette/IIHF
Finland defeated Switzerland 3-1 this afternoon in Utica to advance to the semi-finals on Saturday. Regardless what happens that day they'll be playing for a medal on Sunday for the first time since 2021. 

For Switzerland, the loss underlines a disappointing tournament which has seen them lose all five games and score a total of only four goals. Today, they were 0-for-5 on the power play and managed only 17 shots.

"It was a solid game for us," said Finland's Susanna Tapani. "We played pretty well for 60 minutes. It was a big win for us. Switzerland played better today than the first time. They battled hard and didn't give us much. But our defence was better today."

"I thought we played pretty well and fought hard," said Ivana Wey, the goalscorer for Switzerland. "It's sad, of course, but we needed to score more goals."

The Finns had won the previous seven meetings between the teams going back to 2012, including a 5-2 victory just three days ago, while the Swiss had managed only three goals in four games in the preliminary round, two from captain Lara Stalder.

That being said, Switzerland got off to a perfect start, opening the scoring at 1:22. Wey, an 18-year-old forward making her senior debut with the team, beat Sanni Ahola with a nice backhander after taking a pretty lead pass from Alina Muller.

The Swiss built off this early goal and played a solid few minutes, but midway through the Finns tied it. Petra Nieminen fooled Andrea Brandli to the right of the goal and came around the net instead of shooting. With Brandli well out of position, Nieminen tried the wraparound, and the puck went in off the skate of Alessia Baechler at 10:59.

The Swiss had the first two power plays of the game but could do little with the extra skater, and the period closed with Finland on a five-on-four which came as a result of the second Finland penalty expiring. Jenni Hiirikoski made an unbelievable, high backhand saucer pass to Nelli Laitinen as she came out of the penalty box, sending her in alone. Brandli stopped Laitinen, but Baechler hammered her into the boards. She was lucky to get only a minor penalty on the play.

Teams settled into a more cautious second period, but Finland posed more of a threat than the Swiss, who had only four shots all period despite three power-play chances. Michelle Karvinen had a wraparound chance early but fell before coming out, and Ronja Savolainen also had a nice chance that was stopped by Brandli.

It was up to Nieminen again to provide the impetus for the go-ahead goal. She cut through the slot and whipped a pass behind the play to Susanna Tapani, and although Tapani didn’t get her stick on the puck it bounced off her skate and in at 16:34 for a 2-1 Finland lead.

The Finns got a crucial inmsurance goal early in the third on a flukey play. Laitinen's shot in front hit the stick of Stefanie Wetlie and drifted into the air and over Brandli. Bad luck Switzerland, good luck Finland. That's how the game went.

Coach Colin Muller pulled Brandli with two minutes remaining but the Swiss didn't test Ahola and the game ended in defeat for the fifth time in nine days.