As the quarter final game between Finland and Switzerland began, it had become clear that the winner would play against Slovakia in the Olympic semi-final match-up. The Finns were a favorite to win the game, but despite the bad start, Switzerland were able to challenge the Lions in the later periods. Afterall, Finland managed to make their way through with a win by score 5–1. The strong third period left good signs in the air about the team’s strenght concidering taking a medal out of the tournament.
Finland were having the puck control from early on in the game and they were able to make decision, wheather to push through the neutral zone or gather the troops for a more organized attack. In Finland’s first goal Joonas Nättinen found Miro Aaltonen nicely, and the Vityaz forward had a relatively easy task to put the puck behind Reto Berra at Swiss net.
The Finnish lions stood on the gas pedal after taking the lead. As they saying goes, the forture favors the brave. The SKA defenceman Mikko Lehtonen delivered the puck from the blue line towards the net, where Markus Granlund battled against the Finland native Santeri Alatalo, who now represents Switzerland. The puck took a bounce from Alatalo and suspriced Berra making the score 2–0.
Switzerland seemed to not be able to get through the Finnish defence, making the game look like the story is over.
When Marko Anttila scored from a smooth pass of Hannes Björninen, it seemed that Finland would run away from their opponent. Berra skated off the ice after the third allowed goal and Leonardo Genoni came in.
If the goaltending wasn’t at its best at the Swiss net, Harri Säteri had put up his A-game on the other end of the rink. The routined KHL netminder took a few big saves through the game, but most importantly his presence calmed the defence down.
Some may have thought that Jussi Olkinuora would be the first choice to guard the net in the Olympics due to his good effort in the last World Championships, but Säteri seems to have taken his place. Olkinuora was sent to quarantine before the tournament, which opened the spot for Säteri and he started to perform on the top level, which he now carried on doing.
Switzerland got back into the game in the end of the second period, when a living legend Andres Ambühl ruined Säteri’s dream of a shutout. Enzo Corvi and Gaetan Haas set up a great opportunity on power play, from where the veteran didn’t miss.
In the third period Switzerland stepped up their game even more, giving Finland the strongest offensive challenge yet in the whole game. The Lions had some tough times on the defensively, when the opponents pushed the pressure time after time towards Säteri.
If Finland were put to a tough spot, the most dangerous moment of the period was seen, when he linesman Daniel Hynek got Finnish defenceman Ville Pokka’s shot straight to his head. The Czech Republic native referee collapsed to the ground, but stood up after a while. Getting no visible wound, Hynek was able to carry on his duties.
Anttila was close to score his second of the game as he escaped to breakway. The Jokerit giant forward used his slapshot, but Genoni stood on the way. Afterall, the situation carried out well for the Finns as Iiro Pakarinen and Teemu Hartikainen scored empty-netters, putting Finland up by four goals. That was enough as the clock ran out of time.
Finland held their position as a favorite in the quarter final game of the Olympic tournament. Goals were scored by different lines and especially defencively the team looked like a real contender. Finland outplayed Switzerland on many fields of the game to succeed.
Finland will play in the semi-final game against team Slovakia, who surpriced the United States in their earlier match-up. The semi-final will be played on Friday.
Headline pic © Xavier Laine / Getty Sport / GettyImages.ru