GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – The Olympic Athletes from Russia trounced Switzerland 6-2 in an entertaining clash at the Kwandong Hockey Centre on Saturday to book a spot in the women’s semifinals.
The Russians will take on four-time defending champion Canada on Monday for a place in the final.
Anna Shokhina capitalized on Lara Stalder’s mistake to give the Russians an unlikely lead seven minutes into the first period after the Swiss forward took a fraction too long to control a routine pass.
The Russians were shorthanded by two when Shokhina pounced on Stalder to force a turnover before bearing down on the Swiss goal and scooping a wrist shot high into the net.
The Swiss equalized with less than 10 seconds played in the second period after Alina Muller collected a Christine Meier pass and wove her way past three defenders before flicking a backhanded shot over Russian goaltender Nadezhda Alexandrova.
Stalder made amends when she put the Swiss ahead with a classy shot into the top corner, but the Russians tied it up minutes later on Viktoria Kulishova’s rebound shot.
Liana Ganeyeva extended the lead with just over a minute left in the second period. Shokhina scored twice more in the final period and Olga Sosina added a sixth late on to put the finishing touches on the rout.
Also Saturday, Riikka Valila scored two goals as Finland routed Sweden 7-2 in a little payback for a quarterfinal loss to the Swedes at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Now the Russians will play Canada, the defending gold medalist who beat the Russians 5-0 in their opener for the tournament. The Finns will play the United States in the first semifinal game Monday in a rematch of a 3-1 win by the Americans.
Led by the 44-year-old Valila, the Finns jumped on the Swedes by scoring three goals in the first and never trailing. Petra Nieminen, Valila and Susanna Tapani each scored a goal in the first period as Finland outshot Sweden 11-3 and chased goalie Sarah Grahn after the first 20 minutes.
Nieminen gave Finland a 1-0 lead at 6:12 of the first when she skated up the slot and put a backhander past the outstretched left skate of the Swedish goalie. Isa Rahunen’s shot went in off Valila’s helmet shield at 11:32 to make it 2-0, and Tapani scored on the power play with a shot from the right circle at 17:44.
Finland, which hasn’t medaled since taking bronze in 2010, added two goals each in the second and third.
Sweden, which finished fourth in Sochi, hasn’t medaled since taking silver at the 2006 Turin Olympics. The Swedes will play Japan in a classification game Sunday.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5