Vanquished in a 7-1 final, Japan’s aspirations of reaching the medal round for the first time ever ended up with disappointment. With a hat trick by 22 year old Petra Nieminen, the future is filled with promise for this highly talented forward.
With a first period that saw Finland outshoot Japan by a tremendous 18-8 mark, it set the tone for a one-sided affair.
Only 50 seconds into the quarterfinal match, Japan’s Rui Ukita found herself in the penalty box, called for tripping. Taking full advantage, Finland enjoyed the first lead of the game.
Scoring her first of the game at the 2:08 mark, Petra Nieminen emerged as the game’s leading scorer. Assisting on her goal were team captain Jenni Hiirikoski, appearing in her fourth Olympics, and Noora Tulus, who logged two assists at the legendary Miracle in Espoo.
Extending Finland’s lead, 20 year old Viivi Vainikka recorded her first Olympic goal, scoring on Nana Fujimoto at 4:32. Assisting on her milestone goal were Nelli Laitinen and Elisa Holopainen.
Before the period expired, Japan managed to trim Finland’s lead. Placing the puck past Anni Keisala, Akane Shiga, one of the most consistent skaters for Japan, was hoping to shift momentum.
Although the second period began with Sanni Rantala in the penalty box for a holding call, Japan could not tie the game.
As the period progressed, Finland placed the game out of reach. Appearing in her fourth Olympics, Michelle Karvinen scored the Finns third goal. Afterwards, Nieminen placed her name on the scoresheet once again for the 4-1 advantage.
Just 18 seconds into the third period, Nieminen completed the hat trick. Having scored in every period, Nieminen’s goal placed Japan in a four-goal deficit.
In a span of 4:01, Fujimoto allowed two more goals, as Trapani and Hakala contributed in Finland enjoying a convincing 7-1 lead. Replaced by goaltender Akane Konishi, she logged seven saves, preventing Finland from scoring again.
With Finland outshooting Japan by a 14-6 mark during the third, 49-25 overall, their constant pressure was crucial in a convincing victory. Not only did five different skaters record at least one goal, at least ten skaters logged at least one point, led by Nieminen with five. Reaching the semifinals for the sixth time, Finland and the United States shall face-off on February 14.