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Finland shuts out Switzerland to capture bronze in Beijing

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Becoming the first nation to win consecutive bronze medals in women’s ice hockey at the Olympics, Finland achieved the feat in convincing fashion. Four different Finnish skaters contributed goals, while Anni Kiesala recorded her second shutout in Beijing, stonewalling the Swiss offense in a 4-0 final.

During preliminary round play in Group A, Switzerland’s only win came against Finland. Winning by a 3-2 margin, Lara Stalder scored the game winning goal. At the time, it marked Finland’s third straight loss, the prospect of a podium finish seemed dismal.

Facing off for the bronze medal, the two nations previously played each other for a medal at Sochi 2014. With Florence Schelling between the pipes in 2014, Switzerland won their first Olympic medal.

At Beijing 2022, another podium finish was not meant to be. Despite the loss, Swiss goaltender Andrea Braendli provided an admirable performance.

Facing 47 shots, it marked another game in which Braendli was the busiest goaltender in Beijing. During the opening game of the tournament, Canada bombarded her with 70 shots. As a side note, she stopped 173 of 189 shots faced in Beijing.

Of note, Finland outshot the overwhelmed Swiss in every period, including an astounding 21-3 margin in the second. Undoubtedly, Braendli’s presence between the pipes was the only reason that the game remained 1-0 in Finland’s favour after two periods of play.

With a scoreless tie through the first half of the opening period, an ominous sign appeared for Switzerland. As Finland’s Tanja Niskanen served an interference penalty, the Swiss offense was unable to capitalize on a power play opportunity.

Following the penalty, Finland grabbed the first lead of the game. Viivi Vainikka, a 20 year old forward from Espoo scored at the 11:32 mark of the first period.

An uneventful second period proved frustrating for Swiss supporters. Managing only three shots on net, compared to 21 for Finland, such a lopsided period saw a Swiss offensive attack practically invisible.

Stopping 34 of the first 35 shots in the game, Braendli’s was unable to prevent the flood of goals scored in the third period. With Switzerland unable to take advantage of another power play opportunity in the third, a shorthanded goal from Susanna Talani supplied Finland with the confidence that the win was within reach.

Special teams factored into Finland’s second goal of the period. Enjoying a power play opportunity, as Laura Zimmerman, an 18 year old forward appearing in her first Olympics, was called for an illegal hit, Finland found the back of the net.

Worth noting, another player making her Olympic debut, factored into the power play. 19 year old blueliner Nelli Laitinen, a commit to the University of Minnesota, provided Finland with the 3-0 lead. 

Scoring with only 57 seconds remaining, Finland capitalized on another power play opportunity as Lena Marie Lutz served a roughing penalty. In a fitting conclusion, a pair of Finnish players in their fourth Olympics collaborated on the final goal of the game.

Recording her third goal in Beijing, Michele Karvinen scored on the power play for the 4-0 advantage. Team captain Jenni Hiirikoski supplied one of the assists, one of nine Finnish players with one point in the win.

Tapani and Petra Nieminen both finished with eight points for Finland. Of note, Tapani led the team with six goals. Along with Karvinen, the three ranked among the top 25 scorers in Beijing. Resulting in the fourth bronze medal in team history, Karvinen and Hiirikoski were part of three medal winning teams (2010, 2018, 2022), enhancing their international legacies.

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