A wild finale saw Team ROC’s medal dream end in the women’s Olympic tournament. Despite tying the game in the 57th minute, the Red Machine was halted by two late goals from Alina Muller as Switzerland avenged its group stage loss and advanced to the semi-finals.
For Team ROC, a disallowed goal seven minutes into the third period — when the game was tied at 1-1 — proved costly. Anna Shokhina’s effort was whistled off on a bench challenge from the Swiss and the video showed that the puck had gone out of the playing area and bounced back into play from the benches before Shokhina’s shot hit the net.
“I don’t know why my goal was disallowed,” the Tornado forward said. “Someone said that they whistled earlier in the play because the puck went out the side of the rink. I thought it was a good goal. I don’t know why the referees whistled it down. Today they missed a lot of things when they should have blown up, but I don’t think that was what decided the game.”
Moments later, Switzerland regained the lead through Dominique Ruegg — a tough blow for the Russians to take.
“I think we conceded after scoring because we got emotional, we were overwhelmed,” said Olga Sosina. “We tied it up, everything was fine, we kept playing in their zone and then got hit on the counter. In effect, one of their players took the puck on her own and scored.”
There was still time for a frantic finish. Fanuza Kadirova tied the scores on 56:53 and team ROC was pressing hard for a winner. But in those closing moments, Lara Stalder released Muller for a breakaway goal to put the Swiss in front once more. Then Muller found the empty net to seal the outcome.
Defender Angelina Goncharenko admitted that the team contributed to its own defeat. “We made some big mistakes,” she told journalists. “We didn’t score, they didn’t award us a goal, we didn’t get over it and we lost. That third goal hurt us and after it we didn’t play the right way to get back into the game.”
Team ROC’s quarter-final exit represents a step back from 2018, when it got to the medal rounds and lost to Finland in the bronze medal game. In 2022, the team found itself struggling under COVID protocols in Beijing, plagued by positive tests and left with limited ice time while missing key players. Many of the players admitted that they were confused about how an apparently healthy team immediately fell victim to infection on arrival in China but insisted that the results on the ice were down to the players themselves, rather than external circumstances.
Head coach Evgeny Bobariko said: “Unfortunately, there’s nobody on Earth who can say why we got into this situation with coronavirus. In Novogorsk we practiced in groups. We kept the girls in two separate locker rooms. We trained, we prepared, there was no sign of any problem. Everything was fine. Then, suddenly, we had all this. It’s hard to comment. I can’t say where we got infected, that’s a question for the doctors.”
As for the hockey, the head coach added: “We didn’t take anything like enough of our chances and we gave up goals too easily. Whenever we lost concentration, we were punished right away. After our second goal, we lost concentration. Emotions got on top, we made a silly mistake. We didn’t get our normal training process, but that’s no excuse — you have to go out and play. It’s basic hockey — any time you score a goal, you need to defend hard.”