It’s medal time!! Finland is looking to repeat their 2018 finish with their fourth Olympic bronze medal while Switzerland is looking for just their second bronze in history.
This should be a great, closely contested game between two of Europe’s very best so let’s take a look at how to watch, who to watch, and more.
How to watch:
Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 a.m.
Canada: CBC Online
How they got here:
Preliminary Match Up
This isn’t the first time these two teams have played this tournament. As two Group A teams, they faced off in the preliminary round with Switzerland winning 3-2.
Switzerland had the harder road to the Bronze Medal game. They finished the group play stage in fifth place and thus had to play ROC to advance. It was arguably one of the closest games all tournament. It also had one of the most exciting periods of play in the third period which saw an overturned goal due to a coach’s challenge, the game repeatedly tied, and a game-winning goal scored with less than three minutes left. It was full of twists and turns.
Finland, on the other, cruised through the quarterfinals beating Japan 7-1. It was never really in doubt that they’d be battling for bronze.
Switzerland lined up against Canada in the semifinals, an unfortunate matchup as Canada has been all but unstoppable. The Swiss held them off for the first seven minutes before Canada ripped off four goals in a 2:12, breaking an Olympic record.
Finland got the other North American superpower, the United States, in the semifinals. There was a real chance that Finland could have advanced but the US’s goaltending had others things to say about that, and Finland fell, 4-1. Still, they looked much improved from their struggles early in the group stage against Canada.
Keys to the game:
- Confidence in net - Goaltender Andrea Brändli got tagged for five extremely quick goals and was chased from her net in the semifinal. The Ohio State netminder is better than that and she’ll need to shake that game off as Finland is a team that shoots — a lot.
- Top line production - Their top line is typically Alina Müller, Pheobe Staenz, and Lara Stalder. Everyone knows they are their top producers. They’ve combined for 10 of the team’s 13 goals. For Switzerland to win gold, this is the unit that needs to be firing on all cylinders.
- Shoot more - Switzerland has only put 130 shots on net for an average of about 20 shots per game. While they’ve scored on 10% of them, they need to get more shots off and pepper Finland’s goaltenders - who have a combined 4.06 goals against average. /
- Stay out of the box - Finland is the second-most penalized team left standing in the tournament. While Switzerland’s power play isn’t the best, Finland has given up four goals while on the kill. In a game that’s bound to be extremely close, special teams could be a make or break point for them.
- Depth - Ten different Finns have scored and 15 players on the roster have recorded a point. That demonstrates Finland’s depth, which will only help them as players are bound to be tired after a long tournament. The Finns have the edge here, but anything can happen in 60 minutes (or more)./
Players to watch:
Alina Müller, Switzerland
It feels a bit like cheating to say Müller here but she truly is a player to watch. In the semifinal game, when her team needed her, she put them on her back and scored the game-winning goal (and then the empty-net insurance goal) with less than three minutes left in the game. She draws defenders to her, leaving her linemates open, which makes her a game-changing player whenever she puts her skates on the ice.
Susanna Tapani, Finland
Tapani’s five goals in Beijing account for 25 percent of Finland’s goals so far and has her tied for third-most in the tournament. She’s regarded as a strong defensive forward, so we should see her clock a lot of ice time in this one. Look for the veteran to continue to step up and be hungry for a medal.
This is going to be a great game that’s 100% worth waking up at 6:30 a.m. EST for. This may be cheating, but if you’ve been around for a bit you know that I hate making predictions. But it’s not a cop-out this time.
I really do think this game is going to be a close one. It’s a total toss-up. Both of these teams are closely matched, which we saw in the semifinal. They both prove how far hockey has come outside of the U.S., and how the gap there has closed significantly. They both have big stars and can skate. They both have goalies who can take their game to the next level on any given night and steal a game.
What more can you ask for in a bronze medal showdown? Only one team will leave Beijing with bronze medals around their necks. The other squad will be forced to search for silver linings after falling just short of a medal.