There is a new kid on the block in women’s hockey and it is Team Switzerland.
Switzerland used a four goal third period to rally past Sweden 4-3 to win the bronze medal in the women’s ice hockey tournament.
It was one of the most memorable comebacks in Olympic history, and after it was complete, Switzerland showed why the Olympics are great as the players let their emotions show. They celebrated on the ice like they had won the gold medal, but for the Swiss this is a huge accomplishment.
Switzerland made history by winning an Olympic medal for the very first time, and became the fifth country to win a medal in Olympic women’s ice hockey since 1998 after the United States, Canada, Finland and Sweden.
It’s the first Olympic medal in ice hockey for Switzerland since the men’s national team won bronze on home ice in St. Moritz in 1928 and 1948.
Sweden got out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Michelle Lowenhielm and Erica Uden Johansson, while Cecilia Ostberg and Maria Lindh chipped in a pair of assists apiece. The Swiss could not beat Sweden’s goalie Valentina Wallner, but that all changed in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Switzerland found their game in the third period. Sara Benz cut the Swedish lead to one, when she started the rally putting the puck past Swedish goalie Wallner. Moments later Phoebe Stanz tied the game at 2-2 and Switzerland had all the momentum.
Switzerland took a 3-2 with 6:17 left in the third period, when Sweden’s Erica Grahm turned the puck over at her own blue line and Switzerland’s Laura Benz made a nice cross ice pass to Jessica Lutz, who fired the puck into a wide open net.
With Swedish goalie Wallner pulled for an extra attacker, Switzerland’s Alina Muller slid a long shot into the empty net with 1:07 left. However, the game was far from over.
Sweden didn’t give up. Pernilla Winberg went to the front of the Swiss net and whacked one home to make it 4-3 at 19:16. The crowd of 8,283 went into frenzy. Could the Swedes get the equalizer with the extra attacker out there?
The answer would be no, as the Swiss kept the puck held up in Sweden’s end. As the final siren sounded the team wearing red-and-white squad hopped over the boards and jubilantly raced out on the ice to mob Schelling, while the Swedes’ eyes filled with tears.
It was truly the thrill of victory and agony of defeat for these teams. Sweden had the bronze ripped out their hands by Switzerland.
Star Swiss goalie Florence Schelling won her duel with Wallner. Shots on goal favored Sweden 31-26. Schelling was the best player for Switzerland and showed why she was named tournament in 2012 at the World Championships.
The Swedish women’s IIHF medal drought continues, dating back to 2007. Sweden’s previous Olympic medals were bronze (2002) and silver (2006).
In IIHF World Women’s Championship play, the Swedes own two previous bronze medals (2005, 2007). At that tournament, between 1997 and 2012, Sweden beat Switzerland three times and lost twice.
Switzerland’s lone previous IIHF medal came at the 2012 World Women’s Championship. They captured bronze with a 6-2 victory over Finland in Burlington, Vermont.