The bronze medal match in women’s hockey in the 2014 Winter Olympics was not getting much attention as the discussion had been about the difference between the top two teams, Canada and the United States, and the rest. However, the battle between Switzerland and Sweden for third place was a compelling match that saw the Swiss come back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period.
The last Olympic medal for a Swiss hockey team was the men in 1948 until today’s 4-3 victory for the women. The pure emotion and tension that was built during the third period of this game was a great argument to keep women’s hockey in the Winter Olympics.
This was a great comeback story in a three-period game. Sweden heavily outplayed the Swiss in the first period and they were rewarded with a goal from Michelle Lowenhielm. She cashed in on a bouncing puck that Florence Schelling could not control. Switzerland had one shot in the first period.
The second period momentum began to swing in the Swiss’ favor as they outshot Sweden. Switzerland’s will could have been broken when Erica Uden Johansson scored late in the second period. Schelling looked shaky on the second goal, but slammed the door in the third. Sara Benz scored in the first five minutes of the third period to give the Swiss some hope.
This goal opened the floodgates as Switzerland scored four in the third period. Phoebe Stanz and Jessica Lutz scored just minutes apart, and 15-year-old Alina Muller added an empty-net goal that would prove to be the winner.
Lutz has dual citizenship in the U.S. and spent time working in a coffee shop in Washington before reporting to Sochi. She raced through her schooling and moved to Switzerland doing odd jobs to make the team, and now she is a bronze medalist. It is one of those stories that is hard to find until the Olympics come around.
The emotion of the Swiss after winning was unbridled. They did not want to leave the ice. It was their Olympic moment. The players had their time to circle the ice and revel in their victory while the coaches looked on with equipment strewn all over the playing surface. Regardless of country affiliation or rooting interest, this moment should be appreciated by all and a reminder of the passion that the Olympics generates.