Russian women, Finland advance to semifinals with big wins
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The Russian team and Finland have set up a pair of rematches for the women’s hockey semifinals with a couple of big wins.
Anna Shokhina had two goals and two assists as the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” advanced with an upset 6-2 win over Switzerland on Saturday. Riikka Valila scored two goals as Finland routed Sweden 7-2 in a little payback for a quarterfinal loss to the Swedes at the 2014 Sochi Gmes.
Now the Russians will play Canada, the defending gold medalist who beat the Russians 5-0 in their opener for the tournament. The Finns will play the United States in the first semifinal game Monday in a rematch of a 3-1 win by the Americans.
The Russians provided the biggest upset of this tournament by beating the 2014 bronze medalists. Switzerland came into the quarterfinals undefeated after winning Group B and had given up only two goals in three games.
With Russia banned from the Pyeongchang Games following revelations of a massive doping operation, these women are competing under the Olympic flag. The International Olympic Committee cleared 168 Russian competitors, but the women were missing six players from this team.
Russia has never won a women’s hockey medal as a country at the Olympics, and this team came in having scored only once in losing to Canada, the United States and Finland in Group A. The Swiss also had beaten Russia in Sochi, and Russia ranked fourth in the world in 2017.
“The win was very important for us,” Shokhina said. “We were working toward this game for a long time and despite the games of the preliminary round, we were very angry. We were also able to take revenge for the loss to Switzerland at the Sochi Olympics.”
Yelena Dergachyova had a goal and two assists. Viktoria Kulishova, Liana Ganeyeva and Olga Sosina had a goal apiece.
Shokhina scored a stunning short-handed goal with a second left on a 5-on-3. The Russian forward dug the puck out from the side boards away from Lara Stalder and took off on a breakaway, skating across and beating Florence Schelling’s stick for a 1-0 lead at 7:22 of the first period.
Alina Muller tied it up 48 seconds into the second period. She got a pass around the Swiss’ defensive blue line and skated on her own breakaway through two defenders before beating Nadezhda Morozova with a backhand for her seventh goal and 10th point of the tournament. Stalder made it 2-1 with a power-play goal, putting a wrister top shelf from the slot at 11:47.
The Russians answered when Kulishova tapped a rebound into the open net behind Schelling at 13:53. Ganeyeva gave the Russians the lead at 18:53. They sealed their spot in the medal round with three more goals in the third.
Led by the 44-year-old Valila, the Finns jumped on the Swedes by scoring three goals in the first and never trailing. Petra Nieminen, Valila and Susanna Tapani each scored a goal in the first period as Finland outshot Sweden 11-3 and chased goalie Sarah Grahn after the first 20 minutes.
Nieminen gave Finland a 1-0 lead at 6:12 of the first when she skated up the slot and put a backhander past the outstretched left skate of the Swedish goalie. Isa Rahunen’s shot went in off Valila’s helmet shield at 11:32 to make it 2-0, and Tapani scored on the power play with a shot from the right circle at 17:44.
Finland, which hasn’t medaled since taking bronze in 2010, added two goals each in the second and third.
Sweden, which finished fourth in Sochi, hasn’t medaled since taking silver at the 2006 Turin Olympics. The Swedes will play Japan in a classification game Sunday.
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