Olympic Games: Finland vs OA Russia, Women’s Bronze Medal Match

Olympic Games: Finland vs OA Russia, Women’s Bronze Medal Match

21 Feb 2018Adrian J»
 

In a superb match worth of the Olympic Games, Finland's team hold on the lead that had all game to be the Olympic Athletes from Russia, 3-2 in regulation time.

 
 
 
 

The match proved to be a tight, close fought encounter that could easily have gone into overtime. Whereas the Finns had easily outclassed their bigger neighbour in the Group stages, today's match came down to the small details and nitty gritty of every puck battle before the final siren blared and one team was crowned Olympic Bronze Medalists.

Just as it was in the Group A match, Finland scored first on a power play - but this time is was through Team Kuortane's 18 year old striker Petra Nieminen. It stayed that way until the start of the second period where a frantic first three minutes saw Finland go 2-0 ahead when Susanna Tapani (Lukko Rauma) netted, only for OA Russia's captain Olga Sosina to pull one back just two and half minutes later.

That was the way it stayed until midway through the second period when Finland extended their lead to 3-1 through Linda Valimaki of Ilves Tampere. Whilst Finland were unable to dominate as they had done in their first meeting, the scoreboard remained to their favour and the time for a OA Russia comeback was ticking away rapidly. But with 14 minutes to go, with a one player advantage, Lyudmila Belyakova received a beautiful pass threaded through from her own defensive zone which split apart the unsuspecting Finnish defence. The 23 year old from HC Tornado skated on alone into the offensive zone and unleashed a vicious shot leaving the talented Kunlun Red Star keeper, Noora Raty, totally helpless in the Finnish net. OA Russia realized a weakness in the Finns otherwise stable defense and started zipping in the early pass at every opportunity. One such pass found captain Sosina who brazenly beat the Finnish captain Jenni Hiirikoski of Luleå HF by flicking the puck between her own legs onto her backhand where she released a shot. Had it gone in it could well have been goal of the tournament, but sadly for OA Russia it was not to be, as the shot dribbled limply passed the left hand post. This captain-to-captain battle typified the quality and entertainment value of the thrilling Bronze medal match.

With exactly 5 minutes to go, OA Russia had a final chance to draw level when a doubtful Illegal Hit penalty was called against Finland and Karpat Oulu's defender Isa Rahunen. 18 seconds later at the resulting face off, the puck flew upwards and as OA Russia's top scorer, Anna Shokhina, tried to control it she clattered the Finnish captain in the back of her head with her stick. You won't see a better example of High Sticking anywhere and with the top scorer sent to the Penalty Box, all that was left for the Nordic players to do was kill time. When the puck drifted into the boards with 9 seconds to go, you knew the Finns had it in the bag, then the siren went meant only one thing - Bronze Medal to Finland in the Women's Olympic Ice Hockey 2018.


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