Elisa Holopainen is on fire.
The tournament’s leading scorer came in clutch yet again, striking at the perfect time in OT to send Finland through to the semifinals ahead of their longtime rivals Sweden. Holopainen, 17, now has five goals and two assists in four games.
After a scoreless first period Finland took the lead in the second thanks to a power-play goal from Sanni Rantala. Sweden’s Hanna Thuvik got her team on the board at 38:44 and the teams headed into the second intermission at 1–1.
The deadlock held until the trailing minutes of the third period. Holopainen took a tripping penalty at 56:04, then Thea Johansson scored on the Swedish power play to put them up 2–1 over the Finns. Less than a minute later, Finnish captain Nelli Laitinen managed to equalize, sending the game to overtime.
Both Finland and last year’s silver medalists Sweden came to Japan with new coaches. Mira Kuisma took over from Jari Risku behind Finland’s bench, while Alexander Bröms came to the Swedish job after Ylva Martinsen moved to coach the senior women.
Finland moves on to face the United States in the semifinal on Jan. 12. Sweden will play Switzerland the same day, vying for a fifth- or sixth-place finish.