International Ice Hockey Federation

Finns outclass Sweden

Finns outclass Sweden

Semi-finals date with Canada set

Published 04.04.2017 18:28 GMT-4 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Finns outclass Sweden
PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN - APRIL 4: Finland's Linda Valamaki #10 celebrates after a first period goal against Sweden's Sarah Grahn #1 during quarterfinal round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Finland is playing like it belongs with the North Americans and has distanced itself from the pack in Europe. Tonight's 4-0 win was just another example.

Finland overwhelmed Sweden to the tune of 4-0 today to earn another crack at Canada on Thursday. That semi-finals game at 3.30pm will be an elimination game and will give the women's hockey world a better indication of where Suomi stands.

Its 4-3 win over Canada and close 5-3 loss to the U.S. within the last few days ago has raised the bar significantly.

The Finns limited Sweden to just 16 shots on their own Noora Raty, including just one in the final period, while firing 42 at Sara Grahn. 

"Everyone did their job today, and we played well as a team," Sara Sakkinen, one of the goalscorers for Finland, said. "We stuck to our game plan, and we're learning to trust each other and to play with confidence. We've put a lot of hard work into getting to where we are today."

Sweden will now play in the 5th/6th placement game earlier in the day on Thursday against the loser of tonight's Russia-Germany tilt.

"They have a good team," acknowledged Pernilla Winberg of Sweden. "They played tough from the beginning, and we had a bad first ten minutes. We were supposed to come out hard, but it didn't go our way today."

"We were solid for sixty minutes, and now we have so much conifidence getting ready to play Canada," Finland's Susanna Tapani enthused. "We scored the first goal again, and that really helps. We haven't always done that. We feel good in our zone, and now we feel we can play in their zone as well."

Finland started like a house of fire and never let up. The first goal came at 4:19 after a Rosa Lindstedt shot went wide of the goal and bounced quickly back to the crease. Sakkinen lifted the loose puck over Grahn for the early lead. 

Less than three minutes later, the Finns doubled their lead on a play that also started with a point shot. This time Minttu Tuominen took a low shot that was tipped in by Linda Valimaki standing right at the top of Grahn's crease. 

Suomi made it 3-0 just 3:03 into the second on a power play. Jenni Hiirikoski, the best female defenceman in the world, nailed a low slapshot that Grahn couldn't get over to cover. 

The Finns were better in every aspect of the game. Their speed off the rush intimidated the Swedes and kept them on their heels, and the Finnish defence was airtight, allowing only shots from the outside and protecting Raty to perfection. As well, the Finns are now a team with some size and physicality, adding another element to their game all over the ice.

Finland put an accent on the win with a great goal at 8:53 of the third. Riikka Valila found Tapani all alone in front and made a perfect pass to her. Tapani cradled the puck for a moment, took aim, and drilled a high shot over the glove of Grahn.

"Coming in as underdogs, I thought we had a good chance today," Winberg said. "The last couple of years we've been fifth or so, so we were hoping to get past the quarter-finals. Now, we have to aim for fifth again, so that's what we'll do."


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