LILLEHAMMER – Switzerland finishes its first participation in Youth Olympic ice hockey with a bronze medal for the women’s team after a 5-2 win against Slovakia.
The medal was won on the day two years after the first Olympic bronze for Swiss women’s ice hockey in Sochi 2014.
Like in the previous game against the Czech Republic the Swiss started slow and fell behind by a goal. But instead of a shootout loss the team took off with five unanswered goals, including a hat trick from Noemi Ryhner.
“I’m very happy, I can’t believe it,” said Ryhner. “At the end of the game yesterday we were all crying and were so down, but we said to each other that we needed to stand back up and get ready for tomorrow and win the bronze medal.”
“It’s a great feeling,” said forward Rahel Enzler. “Yesterday it was tough but today was a new day and we worked really hard and had a good team spirit which helped us today.”
The Slovaks had the better start with Kinga Horvathova scoring on her team’s first shot at 4:55 when the Swiss created more offence but were not dangerous enough in front of Slovak goalie Simona Lezovicova.
Things changed in the second period. After a defensive start from both teams Sedlakova missed out with a post shot during a counter-attack at 2:49 that turned out to be the only scoring chance for her team in the period as the Slovaks started to lose track. Three minutes later the Swiss put pressure next to the Slovak net and Ryhner capitalized on a loose puck to tie the game at one.
The game mostly went into one direction in the middle frame thanks to a strong effort of the Swiss team and at 12:57 of the second period Sydney Berta capitalized on a rebound to give her team the lead for the first time.
One-and-a-half minutes later the Slovak defence was again lethargic and Ryhner scored her second goal on a power play after Lezovicova had blocked two shots but third time was a charm for the team in red and the score 3-1 after two periods.
Ryhner made it a hat trick with another power-play goal at 4:13 of the third period that seemed to seal the win for the Swiss against a Slovak team that made the more tired impression after the second game in two days while for the Swiss it was even the third game in three days.
Jessica Schlegel added the 5-1 marker six minutes later while Sedlakova scored the Slovaks’ second goal with 47.8 seconds left in regulation time.
There was not much time left to change the verdict and the Swiss jumped onto the ice to celebrate their historic bronze-medal game win.
“It was sad that we lost (yesterday),” said Swiss head coach Andrea Kroni. “But we had a team meeting and noted down all our team strengths on a sheet of paper. Today when we were losing 1-0 we got the team together and said ‘Switzerland is this, this and this,’ while going through all the team strengths. This refocused us and we won the game.”
Winning the bronze was a good ending for the Swiss team that started the tournament with a 3-0 record but then suffered 2-1 losses to the Czech Republic both in the last preliminary-round game and in yesterday’s semi-final before finding back to winning ways in the last game.