Switzerland vs Sweden, 2-1
This was a feisty and physical affair right from the start, a rematch of Sochi’s bronze medal game that saw Switzerland storm back late to stun Sweden and take the prize. Both teams came into the last match of Group B with chips on their shoulders and it showed, as all three goals came as a result of penalties.
Sweden took a pair of penalties in the first as Olivia Carlsson and Sabina Küller both sat for tripping, but Sara Grahn stood tall in her crease to keep it 0-0 after 20 minutes. Both she and her Swiss counterpart Florence Schelling have played all of their team’s games so far this tournament.
Forward Lisa Johansson took an interference call at 32:21 and sent Sweden back to the penalty kill. This time Switzerland made it hurt, as Alina Müller continued her spectacular Olympic debut with a power play goal at 33:51 from Christine Meier and Lara Stalder. Müller, 19, leads all Olympic skaters with six goals so far this tournament. She’s also no stranger to this Swedish team: she scored the decisive tally in 2014 that gave Switzerland the bronze medal.
The penalties continued into the third period. Switzerland took a pair of interference calls in the first seven minutes as forward Sara Benz and defender Nicole Gass both sat. Benz’s minor was killed off but Switzerland fans and Linköping HC Dam fans alike had a collective panic during Gass’s when Lara Stalder went down after colliding with Swedish forward Hanna Olsson. Stalder is a fast and dynamic forward with game-breaking capability; an injury would have been a huge loss for Switzerland but she returned to the ice soon after.
Anna Borgqvist converted on that same power play to get Sweden on the board, assisted by Hanna Olsson and defender Maja Nylén-Persson. At 17 years old, Nylén-Persson is having a good Olympic debut and continues to establish herself. She’s on Sweden’s first defensive pairing and played 20:40 on Wednesday.
Swedish forward Erika Grahm sat for tripping at 50:22. A little over a minute later, Phoebe Staenz got the go-ahead goal for Switzerland.
Both Sweden and Switzerland advanced to the quarterfinals.
Japan vs Korea, 4-1
It was destined to be a historic game in many ways, with both Unified Korea and Japan still searching for their first Olympic win.
Japan got on the board just 67 seconds into the game with a goal by Hanae Kubo. Another goal, this time by Shoko Ono, came not even two minutes later as it looked to be the beginning of another lopsided game for the Korean team.
Through it all the support of the crowd was behind them. The stadium roared to life every time a Korean player crossed the center line heading towards the net. Despite getting some chances Korea headed into the first intermission down by two.
The much-needed break came in the second period when Yoonjung Park sped through the neutral zone, dodging a defender before delivering the puck up ice to Randi Heessoo Griffin. The roof all but came off the building when Griffin scored the historic first goal.
Although, if you ask her, it’s not that big of a deal:
“I’m definitely not a hero. It was a pretty crappy shot that took a couple of bounces and happened to go into the net,” Griffin said postgame, as reported by The Color of Hockey. “I got lucky.”
With the crowd now serving as wind beneath their wings, Korea continued an impressive attack. Goaltender So Jung Shin stopped all 13 shots, adding to her Olympic tally which by the end of the game stood at a momentous 126 saves.
In the third, however, Japan regained momentum with 18 shots on goal. Shiro Koike scored their third of the game before Rui Ukita secured the win with an empty-net goal. The game was Japan’s first win at an Olympic level with goaltender Akane Konishi taking the honors.
”I’m glad we could finally win,” Smile Japan captain Chiho Osawa told The Kyodo News. After playing tough with Sweden and Switzerland, Japan was happy to see their hard work pay off with a historic victory.
As for Korea, there was nothing but support from the home crowd. They even showered the ice with stuffed bears at the conclusion of the game as their Olympic heroes bowed to the crowd.