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Pyeongchang 2018: Switzerland shuts out Korea 2-0, Japan upsets Sweden 2-1 (OT)

Korea impressed but couldn’t score, and Ayaka Toko may have just earned herself a place in Japanese women’s hockey history.

Team Switzerland reacts after defeating Korea 2-0 during the Women’s Classification game
Team Switzerland reacts after defeating Korea 2-0 during the Women’s Classification game
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Okay I’m going to own this one - when I went looking for how the placement games worked I couldn’t find the official information on the IIHF Olympic site or in the IIHF rules so I went based on the IIHF Olympic site from Sochi and apparently I stared at

L(3A – 2B) – 3B
L(4A – 1B) – 4B

too long and flipped things around. So today’s games are not Sweden vs Korea and Switzerland vs Japan after all.

Switzerland vs Korea 2-0

There’s no commentary on the CBC stream of this so we just get to listen to the Korean fans screaming, which is entirely amazing.

Interestingly, Switzerland has gone with Janine Alder in goal instead of Florence Schelling. Granted, Korea’s not expected to be much of a challenge, so the 5th place game is where she’ll be needed. Shin So Jung is in net for Korea.

First period

Although Switzerland is dominating play it’s not all happening in the Korean zone. Lee Jingyu gets the puck out and Alder has to make a glove save.

First Korean penalty is a tripping call on captain Park Jongah. The Swiss power play goes to work but instead of a storm of shots, they’re being picky, which might not be the way to get past Shin. Certainly it doesn’t work here and the Koreans not only survive the power play, they end up with some offensive zone time of their own back at even strength.

This really should not be happening, it’s eight minutes in and Switzerland only have seven shots. Korea isn’t always getting to the Swiss net but they’re getting the puck out through the neutral zone.

Shin So Jung is stopping everything she sees, and she’s being allowed to see almost everything. Switzerland needs a better net front presence.

The shot clock claims Alder has only had to deal with four shots but she’s been hit with the puck and held it at least twice since the first time I saw it at four.

If nothing else this is a serious indictment of Switzerland’s defence. The Koreans are opportunistic and when a Korean player gets the puck on her stick she’s allowed through the neutral zone without much of an issue. The Korean crowd is loving it though.

Jo Su Sie is called for holding so Switzerland gets their second power play of the period. Less than four minutes to go and there’s still no score. That changes 28 seconds into the power play when Sabrina Zollinger redirects a hard pass from Nicole Bullo past a diving Shin. 1-0 Switzerland, secondary assist to Laura Benz.

I was going to say Korea was finally having trouble getting the puck out of their own zone when Lee Jingyu took the puck for a walk. Never mind.

Switzerland ends the period with a play that seems characteristic of the whole period: with the team in the Korean zone a Swiss player passes back to the blueline. The player at the blueline could have received the pass before the puck left the zone but she pulls her stick back so that the puck hits her stick very clearly offside. The team then very slowly gets themselves out of the offensive zone, mills around for a second, and then ends up in a board battle with the Koreans when they do get the puck back into the zone. So instead of putting some consistent pressure on Shin they just messed around for the last 20 seconds or so of the period.

Shot clock says it’s 19-5 for Switzerland. I agree that shots favour the Swiss, but I think the official scorer has missed a few, possibly for both teams.

Second period

Play starts in Switzerland’s zone and Alder has to make a save long before Shin does. In fact it takes until seven and a half minutes in before Korea is no longer leading on the shot clock for this period. This game is nuts. The leading scorer for the tournament is on Switzerland, this should not be happening.

Kim Heewon goes off for a bodycheck on Evelina Raselli that does not look like it would be particularly legal in the NHL. The Swiss power play stays in the Korean zone but again they’re performing passing drills instead of trying to overwhelm Shin with a high volume of shots. I will say the Korean structure is particularly obvious when they’re on the penalty kill. Everyone knows where they need to be. (It’s during the power play that Switzerland finally gets ahead on the shot clock) That’s not to say that Shin doesn’t have to make a few good saves but she can see most of it coming. The most dangerous opportunity involves a few Swiss players jamming away at a loose puck while Shin is down trying to cover.

Back at even strength the Koreans get another opportunity, although they can’t get a shot away this time. Still, they’re looking far more dangerous than they have any right to be and the crowd is loving it.

Park Jongah is in the box again, this time for hooking. Not only do the Swiss not score, the Koreans carry the puck out a few times and force them to re-set.

At even strength Korea manages to get set up in the Swiss zone for a while. The puck comes out but Korea keeps control of it for a good while in their own end before Switzerland manages to regain possession.

In the last two minutes of the period, Korea starts getting more sustained zone time and getting the puck back faster when they’ve lost possession.

Switzerland finally scores again with 1:08 left in the second. It’s one of the few times that “opportunistic” can be applied to the Swiss instead of the Koreans. Alina Müller carries the puck into the Swiss zone and gets it to Phoebe Staenz. Staenz’s blocked shot squirts out to Evelina Raselli, who doesn’t hesitate to blast it through the traffic and past Shin. 2-0 Switzerland. (The official scoring on the IIHF website gives the assists to Dominique Ruegg and Livia Altmann so I rewound it twice to be sure.)

Shots this period are officially 16-8 which looks more accurate than the first period at least.

Third period

The Swiss get the first shot on goal this time, but Korea get the next two. They really deserve to get at least a goal out of this game.

The crowd absolutely roars at the third Korean shot, which Alder bobbles a little, resulting in some jabbing of sticks in the crease. Korea’s opportunities are getting better and if they were just a little faster at everything, they’d be a real threat.

Whether Switzerland has learned something or Korea is running out of gas, the Swiss manage to set up camp in the Korean zone for an extended run. After a faceoff, Park Jongah gets into the Swiss zone along but she can’t quite make it through the two defenders so can only make a weak shot attempt as she falls to the ice.

Isabel Waidacher is called for hooking with 10:37 left in the game, so we get to see the first Korean power play. Switzerland gets the puck out of their zone quickly but Korea gets set up again just as quickly and Alder has to make a few stops. Switzerland gets some shorthanded chances in the last quarter of the power play and Shin gets some help from her defence.

The camera and the crowd lose track of the puck in front of Switzerland’s net but Janine Alder does not.

Switzerland is buzzing, looking for a third goal. Shin’s determined not to give it to them. Just over four minutes left in the game and she’s now faced 50 shots. I’ve looked at box scores of South Korea’s international games before and wondered how Sarah Murray could talk about the team’s strong defence with a straight face and now I know. It’s not a weak defence allowing a ton of prime chances on their goalie, it’s a structured defence facing a stronger opponent and doing a hell of a lot to help their netminder out.

Korea pulls Shin with 59 seconds left, trying to at least get that one goal. Play is whistled dead with 16.9 seconds to go and Korea calls a timeout before a faceoff in the Swiss zone. Whatever they were planning devolves into a board battle and the clock winds down on a 19 save shutout for Janine Alder.

Switzerland moves on to the fifth place game and Korea will play for a chance at seventh.

Haruna Yoneyama #10 of Japan celebrates with teammates after a goal against Sweden in the second period during the Women’s Classification 
Haruna Yoneyama #10 of Japan celebrates with teammates after a goal against Sweden in the second period during the Women’s Classification
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Japan vs Sweden 2-1 (OT)

Goalies today are Sara Grahn for Sweden and Nana Fujimoto for Japan. These two teams played each other tight in their first meeting, let’s see if they learned anything from that.

First period

Early icing for Japan gives Sweden an opportunity but their one shot attempt goes harmlessly through the crease and Japan takes it out. Sweden’s turn for icing.

A trip by Aina Takeuchi sends Hanna Olsson crashing into both Takeuchi and the Japanese net. Net comes off and so does Takeuchi. Power play for Sweden. It takes Sweden a while to get set up but they clearly have a game plan when they do. Japan gets the puck out about halfway through and Sweden has to re-set. A lot of board battles as the power play winds down and play moves in to the Swedish end as things get back to even strength.

Sweden gets called offside twice in succession and then it’s Japan’s turn. Leaving the neutral zone is hard.

A lot of stoppages being called, not a lot of momentum for either team. Sweden has had the more dangerous looking chances so far but they’re mostly in the order of “if Fujimoto had bobbled that maybe the second chance would have gone in”.

Japanese captain Chiho Osawa gets one of the better chances for Japan at the side of Grahn’s net.

Sweden gets a few chances and then Japan gets a few of their own. I’m not sure that it’s a good sign for Sweden that these two teams seem pretty evenly matched but it’s making for a good game to watch. Shots are dead even, although there aren’t a lot of actual shots—it’s 3-3 at the halfway mark of the period.

Japan might be generally the smaller team but they’ve learned to be physical. More than one Swedish player ends up pinned to the boards by a Japanese opponent. This might be wishful thinking (no commentary on this game either, so I have no experts to back me up) but I think Japan’s shots look like they’ve gotten a little harder too.

Sweden gets called for a bodycheck, captain Emilia Rambolt going off for a hit against Rui Ukita. Looked fairly incidental to me but it’s a power play for Japan all the same.

They’re very organized, no more than a couple of passes between each shot attempt. Sweden gets the puck out briefly a couple of times but all that does is let Japan make a change. No shorthanded opportunities for Sweden. The power play ends with a save by Grahn on Haruka Toko.

Sweden steps it up a little back at even strength and the crowd “ohhhh”s at a number of chances, some stopped by Fujimoto, some that just go wide.

Johanna Fallman goes to sit in the box as her team gets a too many men penalty (yes, there are too many men on this team, please subtract Leif Boork posthaste). Sweden ties up the Japanese power play a little to start and then the chances on Grahn resume. She’s getting a lot of work this period.

Puck comes out of the Swedish zone and this time Sweden follows it up, making a nuisance of themselves behind the Japanese net. Japan gets it back out again but can’t get re-set.

At even strength Japan get themselves back in the offensive zone. Sweden gets it out, Haruna Yoneyama gets a breakaway to bring it back in and then Japan gets the first goal of the game. Chiho Osawa sends a shot through a screen that beats Grahn. Unfortunately there’s a review for goalie interference and it’s determined that the screen (Moeko Fujimoto) did interfere, so the goal is called back. (Don’t ask me if she did, goalie interference is complicated enough in the NHL without the additional crease violation aspect of international play.)

Play resumes. Annie Svedin trips over a Japanese player who’s sprawled on the ice and goes down hard. She heads off holding her arm.

Sweden gets another penalty with 19 seconds left in the period. It’s Oliva Carlsson, called for a bodycheck. The power play starts well for Japan but the puck pops out of the zone and they can’t get themselves set up properly before the horn goes for the end of the period. They’ll have another 1:41 on the advantage to start the second.

Shots so far are 12-7 for Japan. Sweden needs to find an extra gear if they’re going to win this one.

Second period

It takes Japan a good 30 seconds to establish themselves in the Swedish zone but they get a couple of chances once they do. Sweden’s penalty kill looks good for a while until a puck gets through to Shiori Koike in front of the net and she slides a backhand through Grahn five hole. No review this time, it’s 1-0 Japan. Assists to Harune Yoneyama and Calgary Inferno’s Akane Hosoyamada.

This wakes Sweden up a bit. The next few minutes are spent in the Japanese zone. Not a lot gets to Fujimoto in net though.

Play goes back and forth until Johanna Olofsson is called for interference and Japan is back on the power play. They dig hard for that second goal but Lisa Johansson gets a shorthanded breakaway and flips the puck over Fujimoto’s glove to tie the game 1-1.

Not long after that Haruna Yoneyama is sent off for hooking so it’s 4 on 4 for a while. Not the best few minutes for Japan. Sweden gets about a minute on the power play and spend the first little bit setting up. Eventually Fujimoto has to make a couple of stops.

Both teams are getting breakaways at this point, Japan needing to fight for theirs a little more than Sweden. Some tighter defence would be good is what I’m saying here.

Icing for Sweden.

The puck comes to Miho Shishiuchi at the side of the Swedish net but she loses it in her skates before she can get a shot off.

Sweden has definitely turned things up a notch but Japan looks to have done so as well. They’re keeping up, no doubt.

Moeko Fujimoto is called for tripping so Sweden gets a power play with just under five and a half minutes left. Sweden’s moving hard and fast. They nearly bank one in off of Hosoyamada, but Fujimoto is there.

The puck comes out and Osawa makes problems for Sweden in their zone, mostly killing time. Sweden gets it back in but Japan sends it out twice more and the penalty expires without issue.

Some shoving in front of Grahn after she makes a save. Neither of these teams wants to finish seventh and Japan is making Sweden work more than they had probably hoped.

A rebound pops out right in front of Grahn but there’s noone there to take advantage. Sweden follows this up with a long shot on Fujimoto that she stops easily.

Scramble in front of Fujimoto ends up with a Japanese player inside the net, but not the puck.

Japan is called offside with 5.7 seconds left on the clock but it’s called off and the faceoff is at centre. No time for much before the horn goes.

This time shots favour Sweden 11-9. Third period is going to be very interesting.

Third period

Japan starts out with possession but it’s Sweden that gets the first shot on goal, a long shot from the blueline that Fujimoto sees all the way.

Sweden’s dominating play. Very little is getting to the net but Japan can’t score if they can’t get the puck.

They get it briefly and Sweden’s called for icing trying to get it out. Only shot is a soft one that Grahn almost doesn’t need to be there to stop. Sweden’s called offside when they try to get back into the offensive zone.

Japan starts to figure things out again and they come close to a goal more than once. Sweden’s lucky Grahn’s good.

Players are getting hauled down left and right but nothing’s getting called.

I finish typing that and something gets called. Ayaka Toko goes to the box for a hook on Maja Nylèn Persson. Sweden has the advantage. They get set up in the Japanese zone but can’t get a shot on net. Either Japan’s tying them up along the boards or they’re missing the net completely. As time ticks down Japan gets it out once, twice, then we’re back at even strength.

Nervous moment when Fujimoto misplays a puck with a Swedish player on the doorstep, but it gets redirected safely away.

9:10 left. We’re moving into next goal wins it territory. Shishiuchi gets a golden opportunity that ignites the crowd but can’t get the puck past Grahn.

Sweden are bigger and faster than Japan and it’s becoming more evident late in the period. Still, Japan is used to playing teams that are bigger and faster than they are. Their passes keep connecting and they keep finding holes to exploit.

Japan is called for icing. Sweden gets called offside. Fujimoto makes a save. More icing. The clock is ticking here but neither team can break through.

Japan gets zone time, Nylen Persson gets a long shot that Fujimoto steers aside. Icing on Sweden.

Grahn plays a puck that she maybe shouldn’t have that prevents icing. The puck then slides all the way down to Fujimoto.

Final minute of the third. Japan gets a shot on Grahn but there’s no one there for the rebound. Another save by Grahn. 34.4 seconds left in regulation.

Rush by Sweden that Fujimoto barely needs to redirect. Save by Grahn.

The horn sounds. Game still tied. This is going to 4 on 4 overtime for a maximum of 10 minutes. Shots were 10-9 Sweden.

Overtime

Japan wants this. They get the first couple of shots on Grahn and then Erika Grahm is called for a hook on Hosoyamada.

Japan calls a timeout to plan their 4 on 3 power play. They get a good 30 seconds before Sweden gets the puck out. No one follows it up and Japan re-sets quickly. Sweden manages to get the puck out again, just long enough for a change. Grahn is having trouble seeing the puck, Japan has her screened pretty well.

Penalty expires and Sweden finally enters the Japanese zone. They get a couple of soft shots on Fujimoto before Japan takes it back out again.

Japan scores! Ayaka Toko gets a pass from Chiho Osawa and sends a blast from the point that bypasses the defender and goes five hole on Grahn. 2-1 Japan!

The second Olympic win for Japan is a doozy and will give them a chance for their best finish ever, as they’ll play Switzerland for fifth place. Sweden is pretty much guaranteed seventh when they go up against Korea.

Seventh place game is Monday at 10:10 pm EST and the fifth place game will be Tuesday at 2:40 am.