As Group A opponents, Switzerland and ROC are no strangers to each other, but they’ve become especially well acquainted with facing off in the quarterfinal round lately. Back in 2018, ROC (then competing as Olympic Athletes from Russia) knocked off the Swiss in a 6-2 victory.
This time around, it was the Swiss who came out on top, after a back-and-forth game and an exciting third period. Here’s how it all went down in Beijing.
ROC: Anna Savonina, Fanuza Kadirova
Switzerland: Phoebe Stänz, Dominique Rüegg, Alina Müller (x2)
This game got off to a bit of a slow start, with no scoring through the first period and most of the second. But once the scoring started, things sure got interesting. First, Switzerland jumped out to a 1-0 lead, thanks to Stänz’s first goal of the tournament. She broke the scoreless tie 14:31 into the second period.
ROC responded about three minutes later with a goal from Savonina. It was an important goal for the Russians, who couldn’t afford to let the Swiss run away with momentum at that point in the game.
After a relatively quiet start between the two teams, that set up a tied and tightly contested game heading into the third period. About 6:30 in, Anna Shokhina thought she had scored for ROC when her shot just barely trickled past Andrea Brändli and over the goal line. But after video review, the refs determined the puck had gone out of play first, bouncing off the glass that curves behind the bench.
A minute later, Rüegg scored a go-ahead goal on a two-on-one break for the Swiss. It was a back-breaking goal for the Russians, but again they stopped Switzerland from totally grabbing momentum. They killed off a penalty called just a few seconds after the goal, and Kadirova tied it up with about three minutes to go in the game.
Enter one of the most exciting players in the world, and Switzerland’s best hope with the game on the line: Alina Müller. On the very next shift, Müller rushed the puck all the way up ice and perfectly executed a give-and-go with Lara Stalder. She got the puck back and tapped it in for a 3-2 lead with 2:37 remaining.
ROC would get a power-play chance to tie it up, but Müller eventually sealed it with an empty-netter in the dying seconds. The missed chances on the power play were a major storyline for the Russians in Beijing. ROC had 14 chances and didn’t score a single power-play goal all tournament, tied for fewest with Czechia.
For Switzerland, there was no real secret to the importance of Müller’s dynamic playmaking in their success; they’ve relied on the strength of their top line all tournament long. But more importantly against the Russians, they were able to get some contributions from other players, like Stänz and Rüegg. That needs to continue as they advance if they have a hope of competing with the U.S. or Canada and taking home a medal from Beijing.