International Ice Hockey Federation

Olsson leads Swedes to semis

Olsson leads Swedes to semis

Captain scores, assists in 2-1 win over Finland

Published 11.01.2017 23:24 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Olsson leads Swedes to semis
ZLIN, CZECH REPUBLIC - JANUARY 11: Sweden's Matilda Af Bjur #16 high fives the bench after scoring during quarterfinal round action against Finland at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Hanna Olsson scored in the first, assisted on a goal in the second, and was a dominant presence all night. Finland rallied in the third but fell short.

The result was a 2-1 win from Damkronor and a re-match with Canada in the semi-finals on Friday in Zlin.

The United States travels to Prerov to play Russia, while today’s losers, Finland and Czech Republic, also play Friday to decide 5th place.

Sweden came into the game without a win in three games and a goals differential of 2:11. The Finns won two of thrre preliminary games, outscoring their opponents , 7-4.

"They’re more skilled. They pass much better. They played really well on defence. We had a tough time getting shots in the first two periods," noted Finland coach Jari Risku.

Anna Amholt was solid when need be in goal for the Swedes, stopping 15 of 16 shots, but Jenna Silvonen was far busier, facing 36 Swedish shots. Tonight’s game, however, hinged on Olsson’s play as her team scored two goals for the first time in this tournament. 

"We wanted to skate hard the entire game and get a lot of shots," she said. "We haven’t scored much this tournament, so we needed to shoot more and attack the net."

"We stayed strong the entire game and didn’t give them anything," said Matilda Af Bjur, the other Swedish goalscorer. "It was a great game for us. We knew what we had to do. We limited their play today and deserved to win. It was a team effort. Everyone skated hard the whole game."

The Swedes opened the scoring on a power play at 13:39. After moving the puck around nicely, it fell on the stick of captain Hanna Olsson. She waited patiently for traffic in front and then snapped a high shot through a screen. Goalie Jenna Silvonen didn’t have a chance. 

Finland had two power-play chances of its own later but couldn’t generate any decent scoring chances as the Swedish defence collapsed nicely around Amholt and pressured the puck carrier effectively.

The best chance for Finland that period came accidentally, when a drifting shot by Jenniina Nylund floated off the top of the net.

Finland had a great chance to tie the game early in the second, but Kiti Seikkula's close-in shot was blocked by Amholt. Sweden then had a two-man advantage for 61 seconds but failed to increase its lead. No matter, though, as Olsson helped drive a play that led to the second goal at 10:53.

Her shot was blocked in front by bodies from both sides, but the loose puck came to Af Bjur, and she smacked it in. That proved to the be backbreaker for Finland. 

"I saw Hanna was going to shoot so I went to the net," Af Bjur described. "The puck came right to me, and I was able to knock it in."

The Finns got the only goal of the third, on a power play, when Krista Parkkonen smacked a rebound through Amholt's pads, but Sweden weathered the storm and played solidly the rest of the way.

"Our goal was to play for a medal, definitely," said Finland's Petra Nieminen. "We have a talented team. We’re young but skilled enough to win a medal, but we lost our moment."

So now Sweden has the daunting task of playing Canada, a team it has never beaten at any women's IIHF tournament. 

"Today was a good win, so we’re confident," Af Bjur concluded. "We know what we have to do to beat Canada, so we feel if we play strong we can win. I believe that."


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