For the third time in the last four Olympics, Finland is taking home women's hockey bronze. The Finns took down Switzerland by a score of 4-0 in the bronze medal game Wednesday morning, and they did so in dominant fashion.
The Finns completely shut down the Swiss offense, limiting it to just 15 shots on goal in the contest. Quality scoring chances were few and far between for the Swiss, and in the rare instance that they did get a high-danger opportunity, they were unable to beat Finnish netminder Anni Keisala, who earned the trouble-free shutout.
Viivi Vainikka, Susanna Tapani, Nelli Laitinen and Michelle Karvinen each netted goals for the Finns in the victory, but Tapani's marker was enormous. After the Finns were assessed a penalty early in the middle period for having too many skaters on the ice, Tapani scored shorthanded to double her squad's lead and keep momentum in its favor. Lara Stalder and Alina Mueller were desperate to get something past Keisala, but Tapani's effort completely changed the trajectory of the tilt and crushed the spirits of the Swiss.
Finland got off to a horrendous start in the women's tournament, losing 5-2 to the United States in its opener and then an 11-1 annihilation at the hands of Canada the very next day. The Finns even lost 3-2 to Switzerland in their penultimate game of group play, but just managed to squeak into the playoffs with a 5-0 victory over the ROC.
With the victory, the Finns have won bronze in back-to-back Winter Games and have won medals in four of the seven Olympics in which women's hockey was included as an event. Only the U.S. and Canada have won more medals than Finland in women's Olympic hockey, though the Finns have never earned a medal better than bronze.
Finland is a rising superpower in women's hockey, and while it still has some work to do to catch the U.S. and Canada, it's only a matter of time before the playing field evens out between the top three nations at future tournaments.