It wasn’t the gold medal they wanted, nor was it the silver they went home with last time, but Team Finland skates away from the 2021 Women’s World Championship with a bronze medal, which means that they won their last game - a 3-1 triumph over Team Switzerland. It was a rematch of the 2012 bronze medal game and this time Finland came out on top. This was the Finns’ 13th bronze medal in this tournament.
The Finns scored on their second shot of the game, getting the monkey off their back after being shut out against the Americans just 24 hours ago. Tanja Niskanen got the party started with her first of the tournament, ripping a shot past Swiss netminder Saskia Maurer at 1:39, over the glove and under the crossbar.
FINLAND GOAL 🚨— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) August 31, 2021
Hot start for the Fins as Tanja Niskanen goes bar south to take an early 1-0 lead 🇫🇮 pic.twitter.com/sPuQTGih5e
Over the duration of the rest of the period, Maurer was dynamic and kept her squad in the game early until they found their legs and started registering some shots of their own. Maurer made a humongous big save in the final minute of the period on Michelle Karvinen to keep the score 1-0 and finished the period with 11 saves, while Anni Keisala stopped all nine shots she faced from Switzerland.
Fifty four seconds into the second period the Finns doubled their lead on a long floating point shot by Ella Viitasuo that somehow navigated its way through a maze of bodies and sticks, and eventually past Maurer’s glove. It was the first point for Viitasuo in the tournament and Niskanen picked up the secondary assist on the goal to give her a two-point game. Minutes later Finland nearly went up 3-0 but the iron was very unkind to them.
Maurer made a few more saves before she finally got some goal support 3:35 into the middle frame, as captain Lara Stalder sniped one past Keisala on the short side for her first goal of the tournament. The Swiss had a chance to tie things up when they got the game’s first power play a few minutes after Stalder’s goal but they were unable to generate much on the advantage.
SWITZERLAND GOAL 🚨— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) August 31, 2021
The top shelf goals are apparently in fashion today in Calgary as the Swiss Captain gets her team on the board
1: 🇨🇭 pic.twitter.com/RHaw7ZfepS
Finland’s first power-play also came in the middle period, but they too were unable to convert, though they did generate a tad more than the Swiss did. When given a second chance on the power play, the Finns made no mistake - needing just three seconds to make the score 3-1 with just 1:47 left in the period. Petra Nieminen was able to deflect a shot by Karvinen after a face-off win by Susanna Tapani.
Both second-period penalties by the Swiss were for too many players on the ice, and Nieminen’s goal (her sixth of the tournament) also came after a missed high stick against the Finns, so yeah - Switzerland was playing with fire and got burned. After 40 minutes of play, Keisala had stopped 13 of 14 shots and at the other end of the ice, Maurer turned aside 23 of 26.
The Swiss took an early penalty in the third period and survived it with a good penalty kill filled with saves, blocked shots, and (likely) bruises. They had their chances (and some quality ones at that) here and there to climb back into the game over the course of the period but every time they got an inch of space it was Keisala or her teammates there to shut it down. When the final buzzer sounded Keisala finished with 18 saves and Maurer had 29.
For the Finns, they expected to medal in this tournament, but this isn’t obviously the medal they wanted. But, it cements their status as one of the best teams in women’s international hockey. For the Swiss, we can only wonder what their fate would have been with a healthy Alina Müller in the lineup, but their goaltenders were rock stars and they still performed admirably and their fanbase will remember their quarterfinal win over ROC for years to come.