Women’s Hockey Roundup
NAGANO, Japan (AP) _ Her playmaking linemate was sitting on the bench, injured shoulder immobile in a sling. So Riika Nieminen scored all alone _ twice _ as Finland defeated China 6-1 today in the final first-round games of Olympic women’s ice hockey.
Marika Lehtimaeki, moved up to the top line in place of the injured Tiia Reima, also scored twice.
The same teams will play in Tuesday’s bronze medal game. Finland is the four-time bronze medalist at the Women’s World Championships, defeating China in 1994 and 1997.
Reima has a separated shoulder, and coach Rauno Korpi said after Thursday’s 4-2 loss to Canada that she was the one who usually set up the plays for his team’s high-scoring top line.
So Nieminen fired a wrist shot from the high slot, shorthanded and unassisted, at 7:57 of the second period to put the Finns up 4-1. She muscled the puck through the Chinese team late in the third to make it 6-1.
Lehtimaki scored on a rebound midway through the first period and flipped a backhander over China goalie Guo Hong’s blocker to make it 5-1 early in the third.
Finland opened the scoring just over a minute into the game on a slap shot by Johanna Ikonen.
Sari Fisk put the Finns up by three with her own rebound goal at 4:37 of the second. But China’s Liu Hongmei grabbed a bad pass at center ice and caught Finland goalie Tuula Puputti unprepared to make it 3-1 just 13 seconds later.
Sweden 5, Japan 0
Erika Holst scored twice to lead Sweden to its only Olympic victory, a 5-0 win over Japan.
Gunilla Andersson opened the scoring on a power play at 10:58 of the first. Holst made it 2-0 near the end of the period with a wraparound that Japan captain Maiko Obikawa tried in vain to stop as it dribbled past goalie Yuka Oda.
Obikawa ended up sitting in the net, her head hanging, as the Swedes celebrated.
Holst added the final score with less than a minute to go while Sweden, playing only 14 of its 18 skaters, also got goals from Malin Gustafsson and Maria Rooth.
The game was strictly for bragging rights. Sweden and Japan, neither of which had won a game, were eliminated from medal contention Thursday.
The Japanese bowed to each other and the capacity crowd that has turned out for all the home team’s games, then embraced, some leaving the ice in tears.