Today’s Group B competition sees one team end the preliminary round with a perfect record, and will see another finish with their first Olympic win in national history.
Sweden vs Switzerland 2-1
Alina Müller gets the first shot on Sara Grahn promptly and we’re off in what promises to be a battle. Sweden returns fire against Florence Schelling and so far it looks like defence is a thing the teams are going to leave up to their goalies.
Switzerland has control of the puck for an extended period but Sweden gets a long shot on Schelling with Rebecca Stenberg hovering in front.
Olivia Carlsson of Sweden ends up in a board battle with Lara Stalder, and Stalder goes down, earning Switzerland the first power play of the game.
Müller sends a point shot in and hits teammate Phoebe Staenz in the wrist. Grahn falls on the puck and Staenz goes off. (Fortunately for Switzerland, she’s back on a few shifts later.) Lot of passing, not all of it staying in the Swedish zone and Anna Borgqvist gets the puck out as the penalty expires.
Pernilla Winberg gets a couple of opportunities with Schelling out of position but Florence Schelling’s reflexes are otherworldly and the puck stays out.
Sweden gets pinned in their own zone but still have the puck and manage to get another long shot on Schelling. Play is going back and forward, shots are close to even, but the Swedes are definitely getting the more dangerous looking chances.
Rebecca Stenberg sends in a point shot and Schelling lets out a big rebound to no one in particular. However, the fact that she’s letting rebounds happen at all is a bit of a surprise — in the previous two games she was absorbing everything, very few second chances.
Dangerous chance in close for Müller, who works around the Swedish defence, but Grahn has things handled.
It’s a good game between two well-matched teams but I’ve got to say I’m not sure either of these teams will be able to handle Group A. They’re quick but not as fast as they need to be and neither looks particularly imposing.
Müller gets what seems like her tenth opportunity of the period — if anyone’s going to score for the Swiss it will be her. I’m sure you’re all impressed with the depth of my analysis there.
Nicole Gass gets a tip on net but Grahn is there. Gass is yet another Canadian on a Group B team — Sweden’s the only team in the group without a Canadian dual citizen on the roster.
Sweden gets their second icing call in short succession, they’re getting gassed, and the Swiss chances are looking more sinister.
Florence Schelling makes another save. She’s keeping everything out but definitely looks less calm than she did in the first two games.
Staenz runs into Sabina Kuller and Kuller goes off for tripping with less than a minute left in the period. Second power play of the period for Switzerland, who have stayed out of the box.
Shots are 14-11 for Switzerland at the end of the period and I haven’t the foggiest who’s going to win this one.
The Swiss power play should really look more dangerous than it does, they’re not getting a lot on net. They do get themselves half a minute of 5 on 3 as Johanna Olofsson goes off, but that leads mostly to a passing sequence that seems designed to get Grahn looking like a spectator at Wimbledon. It very doesn’t work and Sweden survives the two player advantage.
Sweden gets the puck out a couple of times on the second 5 on 4 but can’t press the advantage even once play comes back to even strength. Play isn’t exactly all Switzerland but they’ve got the momentum.
A long shot comes in on Schelling and Sweden gets their first offensive zone faceoff of the period about into the period. So far, Sweden has one official shot on goal in the period. (Sweden has seven.)
Johansson gets a turnover but can’t control it, so nothing interesting happens.
Sweden finally gets some extended zone time, but they spend it keeping the puck away from Switzerland and not getting it on net.
Flurry of chances on Grahn when she lets out a few rebounds with Stalder in close. If Sweden wins this, they owe their goalie big time.
Another turnover in the Swiss end and Schelling shows her mettle.
First penalty to Switzerland, a tripping call on Evelina Raselli that seems a bit specious. Their penalty kill isn’t fantastic, this could be an issue. It takes Switzerland well over a minute to get the puck out of their zone.
They even things up when they do, as Phoebe Staenz gets interfered with on her way to a prime shorthanded opportunity.
Finally we get a goal, as Alina Müller roofs an angle shot past Sara Grahn. Power play goal, 1-0 Switzerland. Assists to Christine Meier and Lara Stalder. That’s Müller’s sixth goal in three games. She’s only 19. Annie is very excited to see her at Northeastern University next season.
Cassie Campbell-Pascall gets extremely snippy about Swedish Leif Boork and his career, particularly how he ended up with the women’s team. Her male colleague is placatory in response and I want to slap him (but not as much as I want to slap Boork and those in charge of Swedish hockey).
Switzerland is speeding up a little bit here, the second goal doesn’t look that far away.
Livia Altmann is called for holding with less than three minutes left in the period and the Swedish power play goes to work. Emma Nordin and Pernilla Winberg get shots on Schelling. Erika Grahm crashes the net and Schelling ends up with players on top of her. The Swedish power play unit seems well in control until Lara Stalder gets a turnover and goes one on one with Sara Grahn. Grahn wins that one to the relief of her teammates.
Sarah Grahn has faced 32 shots so far this game and Florence Schelling 23. You would think this would mean Switzerland looks dominant and possibly that this game was exciting, but no, not really. Of the games I’ve seen in this group, the Japan vs Sweden game remains my favourite.
Sara Benz gets called for interference 15 seconds into the period. Cassie called out the Swedish team, saying “they gotta go to work” and here they have the opportunity to do so.
Switzerland gets the puck out on their second shift and Sweden’s on the defensive. Grahm eventually carries it into the offensive zone but there’s not much time left. They let Stalder get a stick on it shorthanded. Anna Borgqvist gets a nice shot on Schelling but no dice.
Switzerland is starting to look a little bit more dominant but with only a one goal lead, this could still go either way.
The tempo has definitely been raised for this period. Grahn still seems pretty calm.
Another Swiss penalty for interference. Lara Stalder goes down while on the penalty kill, with no call. Cassie and Mike argue about whether or not it should be a checking penalty. It looks like Stalder got the wind knocked out of her pretty well.
We have a tie game! Anna Borgqvist finally gets a tip in on Schelling, a power play goal on a shot by Hanna Olsson. Maja Nylén Persson gets the secondary assist. Switzerland is pretty steamed they didn’t get the call on the hit on Stalder now. 1-1, about 12 minutes left.
Erika Grahm goes off for tripping, so Switzerland gets their first power play of the period. Switzerland looks very methodical here. I’d like to see them look a little more hungry but clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about because Christine Meier puts a puck on the stick of Phoebe Staenz, who deflects it past Sara Grahn to put Switzerland ahead 2-1. Alina Müller gets the secondary assist because she really needs another Olympic point.
Lisa Johansson gets into the Swiss zone and goes down. I was expecting a call but nothing doing. Switzerland continues to get chances on Grahn, with her save total creeping up toward 40. No goals at even strength yet, which is impressive.
Johanna Fallman lets her temper get away with her and gets called for an illegal hit, putting Sweden on the kill again. Grahn goes to work. Sweden gets a late shorthanded chance but Schelling gets a glove on it.
Less than four minutes left in the game and Sweden’s having trouble getting out of their own zone for more than a few seconds. They get an opportunity but Switzerland keeps them to the outside. Borgqvist gets the best shot off before play goes back into the Swiss end.
Sara Grahn is pulled with 62 seconds left. Switzerland try for an empty netter but can’t get a clear shot. The Swiss goal comes off its moorings and Sweden calls a time out with about 23 seconds left. We see the Swedish bench — head coach Leif Boork is completely uninvolved in the discussions going on.
Sweden gets a couple of really good shots on Schelling as the game dies but in the end it’s Switzerland who comes away from the preliminary round with a perfect record, winning this one 2-1.
Sara Grahn faced 47 shots and let nothing in at even strength. If she can keep that up in quarter-finals, Sweden still might have a chance. Switzerland could have looked better, and Schelling, although she stopped 31 shots in the end, needs to get back to her form from the first two games in order to beat either Finland or Russia.
Japan vs Korea 4-1
A surprise in goal for Japan; instead of stalwart Nana Fujimoto in net, we have backup Akane Konishi. The announcers mention Fujimoto isn’t even dressed, which makes me concerned about injury. Shin So Jung is at the other end for Korea.
It takes Japan just over a minute to score their first goal. A clean passing sequence ends with Haruka Toko passing the puck from behind the net to Hanae Kubo in the slot. Kubo does what she’s been doing for Team Japan since 1999, roofing it past Shin.
Japan is already dominating, and a long shift in the Korean zone leads to Randi Heesoo Griffin taking a defensive penalty along the boards. The Japanese powerplay starts with a chance by Ami Nakamura, but the pass goes into her skates and she can’t quite dig it out to get her full strength behind the shot.
Korea almost escapes the power play, but with twelve seconds left, Japan’s cycle pays off. A shot from Shiori Koike rebounds off Shin’s pads, and all Shoko Ono has to do is tap it in.
Chiho Osawa nearly makes it 3-0 a minute or so later off another rebound, but can’t put it in. Shin’s been kicking up a lot more rebounds so far than in her earlier games, and the Japanese are capitalizing.
An Akane Hosoyamada shot goes wide. The Japanese are just relentless so far. It’s almost seven minutes in, and Korea hasn’t registered a shot on goal yet. Japan has seven.
Choi Jiyeon forces a turnover at the Korean blue line, and almost has a scoring chance, but a Japanese defender calmly pokes the puck off her stick before she can get a shot on Konishi.
Two Korean skaters collide at center ice. They both pop right back up, but it looked scary there for a moment.
Halfway through the period, the Koreans finally get their first shot, Park Chaelin firing the puck from the top of the faceoff circle and right into the logo on Konishi’s jersey. A Japanese defender almost inadvertently tipped the shot while trying to block it with her stick, but Konishi saw it and was able to make the save without much fuss.
Japan looks good so far! They’ve been very organized, and their passing is crisp and quick. It’s easy to see how this team outshot Sweden and Switzerland; it’s just a shame neither of those games ended with a win.
There’s a phenomenal effort by Lee Jingyu, who skates in hard and takes a falling shot on Konishi, who manages the save. Lee is one of the youngest players on the Korean roster, and is a Yale commit. She’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. Korea’s starting to get a few more chances, looking a little less knocked back on their heels than they did for the first ten minutes. They’re doing a better job of disrupting the Japanese passes and generally making a nuisance of themselves, in a positive way.
Dangerous turnover by Japan in their own zone, but Lee Jingyu is unable to convert it into a goal.
Nice play by Rui Ukita to strip a Korean player of the puck as she tries to exit her own zone. It’s converted into a Japanese rush, but Haruka Toko isn’t able to finish a bang-bang play. Shin’s looking sharper.
Park Jong Ah has a scary looking shot from about five feet out. Korea’s offense has also woken up.
Shin stones Ukita and Korea turns it the other way, getting a rare odd-man rush for Korea. Lee Jingyu’s shot goes over the top of the cage--she’s been everywhere this period for Korea.
Toko isn’t able to finish a gorgeous cross-ice pass by Ukita, and that’s the last scoring chance of this period. Shots finish up at thirteen for Japan, four for Korea—they found their offensive legs a bit in the latter half of the period.
Park Chaelin ends a nice sequence of Japanese passing in the offensive zone by blocking a shot to send the puck the other way.
Korea’s difficulty in connecting passes leads to Japan picking one off right in the Korean zone, and it’s only a badly played puck by Japan that saves them. The most Korea can do right now is clear the puck out of the zone, trying to force Japan to play fetch.
Naho Terashima cuts to the slot through traffic and gets off a nice shot that Shin’s able to handle without a rebound. On the next shift, Moeko Fujimoto gets a nice backhand on net. A few moments later, a tip play from a long shot almost results in a goal, but Fujimoto can’t direct it into the wide-open net.
Aina Takeuchi takes a slapshot and Korea blocks it, leading to a turnover. That’s happened a bunch this game—Korean shot-blocks leading to rushes the other way. It’s nicely done.
Japan takes their first penalty, Kubo for an illegal hit. The Japanese immediately clear the zone, and don’t let Korea get in and set up for the first minute of power play time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Japan’s pressuring the Koreans very hard—they had Toko all the way up near Shin, hassling the Korean players. Japan’s able to kill off the Korean powerplay without allowing a shot.
Japan immediately sets up on offense in the Korean end. They’re peppering Shin with shots, including a point try by former Fury Sena Suzuki, but nothing’s going in.
Korea scores! It’s Griffin--she takes a weak shot on Konishi, but it trickles right through her five-hole. The Korean team, and the crowd, are both overjoyed. Park Yoonjung gets the only assist on the first goal Korea has ever scored at the Olympics, and well, that’s pretty dang awesome.
Choi Yujung nearly ties it moments later, a pass through the crease that Choi attempts to backhand past Konishi.
Japan’s first good chance since the Korean goal is a shot by Yoneyama from the faceoff dot, which is blocked by a Korean defender. The Korean team seems to have more energy than they did at the start of the game—scoring a goal will have that effect!
Osawa streaks into the zone, avoids multiple Korean defenders, and gets a shot off on Shin. Japan manages to turn the offensive pressure back up, although most of their shots are going wide of the net. They’re still definitely dictating the pace of play, but their weak point is their offense, and it’s showing this game. Getting shots and getting chances are not the same thing.
In a crease scramble in front of Shin, Ukita momentarily thinks she’s pushed the puck across the line, but it’s ruled no goal.
A backhand by Yoneyama is saved by Shin, who’s definitely on top of her game tonight. The first few minutes weren’t her best play, but she’s completely stopped giving up rebounds and has returned to the form she displayed in Korea’s first two games.
Takeuchi floated a shot from the point that Shin saw all the way. The Koreans are still getting massively outshot, and it’s not helped when Korea takes their second penalty of the game. Japan is able to hang onto the puck with the sixth attacker on for a solid sequence of time before Korea’s able to touch. It’s Lee Jingyu, called for holding the stick, and Japan will end the second with about a minute of powerplay time.
The Japanese power play is careful and deliberate, and they get a few good chances, most especially a shot by Yoneyama that Shin was a bit slow to cover. They’re not able to convert, and the second period ends 2-1, Japan. The Koreans are getting outshot, 26 to 7, but one of those shots went in the net and that’s extremely exciting.
Japan has just under a minute of power play time left to open the third period. Shin makes several good saves to open the period, including one of a Toko shot right from the top of the crease. Again, a loose puck in the Korean crease led to everyone thinking Japan had scored for a moment or two, but no dice. The Koreans kill off the penalty.
A 2 on 1 for Japan leads to a nice backhand pass from Ukita to Kubo, but Kubo’s shot is saved by Shin.
Han Soojin gets Korea’s first shot of the period on Konishi, who steers it to the corner easily.
A sprawling save by Konishi on a bouncing puck looked like a heart attack but was good enough to keep Japan in the lead.
A centering attempt by Ukita misses its intended recipient, and the Koreans are able to clear it harmlessly.
Shin makes another phenomenal save, this time stoning a forward after a three-on-two rush for Japan.
Korea’s showing some offensive pressure—Konishi’s having to work more this period than either of the previous two. The Koreans seem to have abandoned offensive finesse, but making Konishi scramble in her crease is working better for them.
Japan goes on the power play again, Griffin whistled for an illegal hit. A shot from Miho Shishiuchi comes close, hitting the post, but doesn’t go in. Japan keeps up the pressure, though, and it’s eventually a point shot from Koike that finds its way through traffic in the dying seconds. It’s 3-1 Japan, and you can see the Japanese take a collective sigh of relief.
The Japanese keep leaning on the Koreans—they try a bunch of point shots, maybe figuring that it worked once, it might work again—and then Shin makes one of her best saves of the game, an acrobatic shoulder save on Osawa.
Tomomi Iwahara takes a penalty for Japan, a tripping call in the corner of the Korean zone. Korea manages to get some decent zone time, if not decent chances—Japan’s good at applying smothering pressure. There’s one play with the puck bouncing in on Konishi that looked threatening, but it was whistled dead for playing the puck with a high stick. Japan kills the penalty off.
Even in the last few minutes of the game, Shin’s still robbing the Japanese players of hopes and dreams. She makes a great save on Suzuka Taka. I can’t overstate how good she’s been. If Korea ever had any hope of winning this game, those hopes came from the play of Shin So Jung.
Korea pulls Shin with just over two minutes remaining. Japan’s first attempt on the empty net misses and leads to icing, but less than thirty seconds later, Ukita makes it count. She fights through Lee Jingyu at the blue line, pushes the puck in, and steers it into the empty net. It’s 4-1 Japan.
(Side note: Team Japan’s bowing goal celebration never stops being great. They all gather in a circle and bow to each other after goals. It’s delightful.)
Korea puts Shin back in for the last minute and a half as the game winds down, finishing with a score of 4-1. It ends with Olympic history for both teams—the first goal in Korean Olympic history, scored by Randi Heesoo Griffin, and the first Olympic win by Team Japan. Despite being outshot 44-13, that was Korea’s best performance of the Games, and they put up a fight and got a goal out of a clearly superior team.