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Pyeongchang 2018: Switzerland escapes Japan 3-1, Sweden dominates Korea 8-0

The Swiss were thoroughly outshot but penalties and Sara Benz were Japan’s undoing, and an improved performance by Korea is not enough to score on Sweden

Sara Benz #13 of Switzerland scores a goal against Nana Fujimoto #1 of Japan 
Sara Benz #13 of Switzerland scores a goal against Nana Fujimoto #1 of Japan 
Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Apparently the IOC has now officially confirmed that, following the IIHF’s example, there will be 10 teams in women’s hockey at Beijing in 2022.

Switzerland vs Japan

News to start: Rui Ukita, the goal scorer for Japan in their game against Sweden, has been suspended for a kicking motion in the last minute of that game and won’t be available for this one.

First period

Early going and Switzerland does not look ready for Japan - possession is Japan, shots are Japan, most of the play is in the Swiss zone. Big question is can Japan score?

Lara Stalder gets into the Japanese zone alone but there are four players on her so that doesn’t work.

Couple of offside calls disrupt some Japanese chances. The official scorer is very stingy with awarding shots - so far it’s officially 1-0 for Japan and we’re almost 6 minutes in. I agree with the 0 for Switzerland but I think Japan’s had more than 1.

The Swiss are getting better at getting through the neutral zone but they’re still not being allowed to do very much.

A couple of dangerous shots for Japan end in a breakaway for Isabel Waidacher but she can’t really go anywhere. Anyone entering the Japanese zone is just completely surrounded and separated from help. Swiss shot attempts encounter Japanese sticks before they even get as far as Nana Fujimoto in goal.

The first power play goes to Japan and they start off with a dangerous chance on Florence Schelling. Phoebe Staenz gets herself in trouble very quickly with a hit from behind and it’s 5 on 3. Japan know what they’re doing here, very systematic but although Hanae Kubo gets Schelling to come well out of her net to face her, they can’t get anything through.

Less than five minutes to go in the period, and the Swiss have still only registered one shot on goal. The Swiss only need one chance to be dangerous but Japan is dominating. It’s a must-win for Japan and they’re playing like it.

The Müller line gets in late in the period but Lara Stalder’s shot is blocked by a Japanese defender.

With 29.9 seconds left, Kubo is called for tripping, this could be bad fro Japan but they get it out immediately. The horn goes off before the Swiss decide to take a shot so the period ends with Japan outshooting Switzerland 7-1.

Second period

The power play continues for Switzerland. It’s a passing clinic before Japan gets it out. Dominique Rüegg gets a pair of opportunities, one at even strength, but Nana Fujimoto has things handled.

Phoebe Staenz gets in alone but she’s got two defenders on her and Fujimoto easily absorbs the shot. Stalder goes down and there’s a delayed penalty. The Swiss hang on to possession for a while before play is whistled down and Haruna Yoneyama heads to the box.

Sara Benz gets a chance that Fujimoto doesn’t see but she misses the net. The power plays are getting the Swiss some chances but they can’t solve Fujimoto. Alina Müller gets called for holding with less than 30 seconds left in the penalty so we get some 4 on 4 before Japan gains the advantage.

The kill for Switzerland is better than in the first, they get the puck out under control a couple of times. Japan gets a chance in close but it’s a backhand that goes just wide.

Yoneyama goes off again, this time for interference — Japan’s got to stay out of the box, they’re giving the Swiss too many opportunities. Sure enough, Sara Benz beats Fujimoto high and it’s 1-0 Switzerland. Assists to Rüegg and Laura Benz.

There’s an absolute pileup in the Japanese crease on the next play and I don’t know how the officials thought they saw a puck loose for as long as they let it go before whistling the play dead. To add insult to injury when we get back from commercial, the officials are reviewing for a goal. Cassie Campbell-Pascall is incensed but fortunately the call is no goal.

Evelina Raselli gets a chance but her shot was going wide even before Fujimoto directed it away. Japan gets some time in the Swiss zone but almost as soon as play goes back into the Japanese zone there’s yet another penalty on Japan. This is not the team I expected to be getting all the calls.

Fujimoto’s busy but keeping everything out until Sara Benz gets a breakaway and roofs a puck one on one. 2-0 Switzerland, both goals on the power play, both goals by Sara Benz. This time the assist goes to Christine Meier. The way that Japan scores, two goals is an almost insurmountable lead.

There’s a mess in front of the Swiss net but Schelling holds firm. The next faceoff though, she very definitely takes the puck for a walk before passing it off to one of her teammates.

Japan settles down a bit. The Swiss are still getting into their zone but shots aren’t getting to Fujimoto.

Schelling loses control of the puck but Japan can’t take advantage.

The Stalder line gets some time in the Japanese zone late but nothing doing.

Japanese captain Chiho Osawa gets a couple of shots on Schelling but nothing that she can’t deal with. Schelling has some work to do as the clock winds down but she does her job.

This time the Swiss are up on the shot clock 13-11. Considering they had most of four power plays to Japan’s one, that’s not particularly impressive. Still they’re the scorers and Japan is definitely in trouble.

Third period

The Swiss start the period in control, getting a couple of chances before Japan gets the puck out.

Akane Hosoyamada shows off a hard shot from the blueline but she hits Schelling.

First penalty of the period goes to Switzerland, a hooking call on Schelling served by Lisa Rüedi (commentators think it should have been a crosscheck call on Livia Altmann). Japan presses but nothing doing.

Alina Müller tips the puck to herself to get a breakaway and just beats Fujimoto with a lethal shot to put Switzerland up 3-0.

The Clarkson Cup has been mentioned at least three times this game, almost every time Aina Takeuchi touches the puck. Normally this sort of thing annoys me but the Clarkson Cup needs more publicity.

The Japanese keep coming but Schelling is just absorbing everything.

Hanae Kubo gets a stick on a shot by Mika Hori and Japan is finally on the board 3-1. Secondary assist to Haruka Toko. Still 12:27 left to go. Might not be much hope but there’s some!

Fujimoto goes swimming as Switzerland gets a few chances but she keeps things out long enough to get a whistle.

Japan gets a golden opportunity but can’t take advantage. They’re outshooting Switzerland 10-3 about halfway through the period.

Switzerland is starting to turtle a bit, and they get called for icing a few times in rapid succession.

Haruka Toko gets an opportunity, splitting the defence and Schelling just manages to squeeze the puck under her arm.

The next opportunity for Japan results in a penalty to Switzerland so Laura Benz goes off for tripping. Japan fights like mad at first before the power play becomes a passing clinic, looking for a clear lane to Schelling.

3:46 to go and Japan pulls Fujimoto for the extra attacker. Nothing is getting out of the Swiss zone but nothing’s getting by Schelling either.

Despite a furious effort, Japan can’t get another goal. Schelling not only guarantees the Swiss a spot in the quarter-finals, but ties Kim St-Pierre for the Olympic record for career wins with eight. She faced 38 shots and only let in one.

This was a heartbreaker for Japan, but we’re almost guaranteed to see their first Olympic win in the next game.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 3 Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Sweden vs Korea 8-0

Unsurprisingly, Shin So Jung is in net for Korea, and Sara Grahn is at the other end for Sweden.

First Period

Shin gets tested quickly by Erica Uden Johansson, and Sweden doesn’t stop. The first minute and a half of the game has the Swedes putting five shots on Shin. There’s a nice defensive play on a Swede by Kim Heewon, but Korea’s going to need to do more of that, because this pace is untenable.

After a nice turning backhand by Randi Heesoo Griffin, Lee Jingyu floats a shot that Grahn easily sticks away, and then after holding the puck in at the blue line Park Yoonjung gets off Korea’s third shot in a half minute.

Sara Hjalmarsson digs away at a puck at the top of the crease, and she’s knocked down late by Kim Heewon for getting too close to Shin, who takes a penalty for roughing. Sweden doesn’t take long to convert. After passing the puck up to Maja Nylén Persson at the point and a quick give-and-go, Sweden’s youngest player threads a shot through traffic, off the post and in. Shin can’t track it, and it’s 1-0 Sweden.

A scoring chance for Kim Heewon is sabotaged when Kim can’t stay on her skates, although she still gets a shot off. Park Yoonjung is able to force a turnover at the red line and send it the other way—she’s looked good so far this game.

At the other end of the rink, Sweden rings a shot off the post, but this time it stays out of the net. Shin keeps making tough saves look routine, especially when she’s got a player coming in on her all alone. This time, it’s stonewalling Erika Grahm.

Korean captain Park Jong Ah hooks down Emma Nordin in the Korean zone, giving Sweden its second power play of the game. Shin has to make a save on a Nordin shot from the slot—fortunately for Korea, Nordin fanned on it a bit, but it looked plenty dangerous anyway.

Korea kills off the penalty, but unfortunately for them, any momentum is destroyed when a bad bounce goes Sweden’s way a few moments later. Elin Lundberg takes a hard shot from the top of the faceoff circle, and it trickles through Shin’s pads.

A quick time later, Fanny Rask does Fanny Rask things. She grabs the puck, curls around the net and fires it to the slot, where Johanna Fallman is waiting to bang it past Shin. It’s a tough minute or so of game time for Korea, especially right after killing off that penalty.

Sweden takes its first penalty, Pernilla Winberg on Kim Heewon in the defensive zone. After a bit of trouble getting in the zone, the Koreans try to set up the cycle, and a pass to the point player promptly misses and slides out of the zone and down the ice. Sweden kills this penalty off without much difficulty—Korea doesn’t get a shot on goal.

Lee Jingyu gets Korea’s best scoring chance of the game so far, collecting the puck in the neutral zone, coming in with speed and firing the puck just over the top of Grahn’s net. Griffin gets a shot on net a few moments later. Korea does seem to be showing more offensive spark then they did against the Swiss.

Unfortunately, a shot by Hwang Chung Gum is blocked by Lisa Johansson, and it leads to a turnover and a rush the other way. Johansson slings the puck to Uden Johansson, and she puts it past Shin, crashing the crease in the process along with Hwang, who’d desperately tried to get back to cover for her mistake.

In the final minute, Griffin takes a tripping penalty along the boards behind the Korean net, giving Sweden their third power play of the period. A sprawling save by Shin on Fallman barely holds the score at 4-0, despite the green light going on behind the Korean net, and Korea is able to escape the first period without allowing another goal.

Second Period

Sweden starts off the second with about a minute of power play time. The Koreans manage to kill it off, starting the period with some positive momentum.

Park Ye Eun blocks a scary-looking chance from Fanny Rask, right smack dab in the high slot. Rask is not the sort of player who misses from that spot, either. Rask’s a real gem of a forward. Later in the period, she tries a really nice backhand that Shin’s able to stop. Sweden has its own defensive issues, but their offensive talent so clearly outclasses anything Korea can bring to the table.

A fortuitous bounce through the neutral zone leads to a breakaway for Grahm—the puck pretty much went right to her, and she looked almost surprised to find herself with the puck on her stick and a clear path to the net. She skies it over the cage, but the Swedes make it 5-0 soon after anyway. A lovely cross-ice pass from Emmy Alasalmi through the neutral zone lands on Pernilla Winberg’s stick, and she breezes right into the Korean zone with no one in her way. Shin can’t save this one.

Sweden takes a penalty, Grahm for an illegal hit. Korea’s power play is the best it’s looked, with something approaching offensive pressure—although Sweden still blocks most of their shots.

Anna Borgqvist takes Sweden’s second consecutive penalty, laying out Choi Jiyeon, which is not allowed. The Swedes are putting heavy penalty kill pressure on Korea, all the way back to the Korean zone, but this power play still looks stronger than the Korean power play from their first four periods at the Olympics. A tipped shot from Eom Suyeon by Choi Jiyeon almost finds its way past Grahn, but instead goes just wide. Those two players try that again, and it’s again almost successful—Korea has clearly adjusted their power play tactics and done it successfully. They have four shots in this power play! If only those tactical adjustments had come against Switzerland, the team of All The Penalties, they might have a goal in this tournament by now.

Danelle Im tries to spring Han Soojin for a breakaway, but the puck misses her stick. Korea keeps having broken plays, near-misses, moments that were almost good. It’s easy to see that this team would perform excellently at their own level (they did win Worlds in their tier this year, after all, and earned promotion to the next tier up), but Sweden is just too good.

Third Period

At the start of the third, shots are 31 for Sweden, 13 for Korea. Considering that Korea only had eight shots in their first game, this is an amazing improvement, no matter what happens in this period.

It takes Sweden just over a minute to score their sixth goal of the game. Nordin passes the puck to Lundberg at the point and slides into the slot. Lundberg takes the shot, and Nordin tips it past Shin. Less than a minute later, Sweden makes it 7-0 on a delayed penalty. A shot from Winberg bounces off a Korean body in front and past Shin. It’s Winberg’s second goal of the game.

The Swedes are all over the Korean team now. The Koreans had been playing some of their best hockey so far at the end of the second period, but that’s falling apart now. Rebecca Stenberg taps in an absolutely gorgeous pass from Winberg, a move that makes Shin look more human than she has yet, and it’s 8-0. That goal was all Winberg, though. Truly gorgeous pass.

Shin’s still trying to stem the tide. She makes a strong save on a quick shot from Sabina Kuller, and then another one later in the shift (also on Kuller) after Korea fails to clear the puck from the zone.

A shot from Kim Heewon is a reminder that the Koreans have shown some offensive spark, and are still hoping to come out of this game with a goal. Kim’s been one of their most noticeable forwards this game.

Sweden takes an interference call, Lundberg on Han Soojin. Korea sets up their power play, starting off with a strong chance by Park Jong Ah at the side of the Korean net. They manage to hold the puck in at the blue line—something this team has had trouble with—giving them about a minute of solid power play zone time before Sweden is finally able to clear. Lee Jingyu gets a shot off as the powerplay is winding down, but Sweden does kill it off.

Shin stones 29 from the top of the crease, because she is still out there doing work. Man, Shin So Jung is good. Don’t let the score fool you.

Johansson picks off a pass from Park Jong Ah and sends the play back into the Korean zone in the fading minutes. Sweden is running play completely at this point, and the Koreans look tired. Choi Jiyeon does get off a good shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle, navigating around a Swedish player—she has also been one of Korea’s best forwards, and has had a couple near misses.

Sadly, it’s not enough. Sweden wins 8-0, outshooting Korea 50-19, in what was a more impressive performance for Korea than the Switzerland game but was still overwhelmingly one-sided.