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Bronze medal game preview: Finland vs Switzerland

A battle for bronze

Finland’s Elisa Holopainen #10 stickhandles the puck against Switzerland’s Nicole Vallario #16 in preliminary round action at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship at WinSports Arena on August 26, 2021 in Calgary, AB Canada. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)

The first medal game of the day is two Group A teams.

These two teams played earlier in the tournament in the preliminaries, when Finland won in a blowout 6-0. Petra Nienminen had a natural hat trick in the first period, which is wild. But I don’t expect it to be that large of a gap this time around. Let’s take a look at why.

How We Got Here

Finland’s quarterfinal was a goaltenders dual with the Czech Republic. But one bounce was all it took for the 2019 silver medalists to advance. From there, they met Team USA in a rematch of the last gold medal game. They struggled and fell, however, and will now try for their 13th bronze medal at the tournament.

On the path to their first appearance in the bronze medal game since 2012, Switzerland proved to themselves they can play without their star forward Alina Muller, who was injured earlier in the tournament. In the quarterfinals, the Swiss came storming back to beat ROC in overtime after playing terribly in the first 45 minutes of the game. They obviously fell to Canada in the semifinals, where they were overpowered and could not get a single thing started.

Keys To The Game

The Swiss look their best when their passing is on point and they aren’t relying on solo performances to do it all. It sounds simple, but that will be a huge key for them. Prior to their quarterfinal, they had only scored one single goal all tournament and that was off the stick of a player who is sidelined. Their first and third goals in the quarterfinals came off great passes. They also can’t have a slow start like they had against ROC. While they were able to crack their defense eventually, if they want to win their second-ever bronze medal at the tournament, they’ll need to play a full 60 to do so.

They also just need to put more pucks on net. They have the third lowest shots for in the tournament and, as cliche as it sounds, you can’t score if you don’t shoot.

However, I think we might see yet another goaltending duel for the bronze medal because wow is the goaltending on both sides of the ice going to be great no matter who gets the start.

Switzerland’s goaltending duo of Saskia Maurer and Andrea Braendli have been sharing time in net for the most part. Braendli got tagged for five of the six goals in the preliminary matchup between these two teams. Who gets the start could go either way here.

On the other side, Finland has been relying heavily on Anni Keisala. She comes in with a 0.949 save percentage and two shutouts. Meeri Raisanen played well in her appearances this tournament as well. Look for the Finns to ride the hot glove of Keisala, though.

Switzerland’s Key Player: Lara Stalder

Someone on Switzerland needs to step up the offensive firepower. Stalder has been trying to all tournament, but failing to do so. She’s got one point in six games. For a country looking for only their second medal at Worlds, now is a great time for the veteran forward to find her stride and shot for the Swiss.

Finland’s Key Player: Petra Nienminen

She obviously has the Swiss’s number after putting up a three spot in one period on them. Nienminen five goals on the tournament have her tied for second overall, and her six points have her tied for fifth overall. She’s the top offensive performer on the team.

Nienminen is always a threat when she’s on the ice, and her having a solid game will only buoy Finland’s shot at winning bronze.

How to watch

TSN and NHL Network at 3:30 p.m Eastern, 1:30 p.m. Mountain