The Swiss players celebrate a goal in the Final Olympic Qualification opener against Denmark. Photo: Manuel Lopez / PPR
Stalder shines with hat trick vs. Danes
The Swiss women’s national team had a successful start into the Final Olympic Qualification Group C on home ice beating Denmark 6-1.
The Swiss dominated the game for two periods and earned a deserved opening win. Lara Stalder scored a hat trick and collected five points.
“We planned to enter the tournament step by step and stick to our game plan and it worked. We were a bit nervous in the beginning but then played well for two periods. In the third period we allowed them to come back into the game and they scored a goal, which shouldn’t happen, but we learn from that so that it’ll be good against Norway,” Stalder said.
Already after 82 seconds it was Stalder, who had the first chance of the game. The Swiss didn’t manage to capitalize on their chances in the first minutes but at 9:18 they were lucky when a long shot from Alina Muller unexpectedly found the way into the Danish net.
After that goal the Danes had to work more on their offence but they struggled and sometimes became an easy target for breakaways.
Five minutes after the first goal Christine Meier capitalized on a rebound during the Swiss’ first power play to make it 2-0 following a video review by the officials.
At the end of the period the Swiss had a couple of chances including Alina Muller with a penalty shot. She tried to deke Danish netminder Lisa Jensen but didn’t succeed against her.
“The discrepancy is probably the reality. We knew they’re a good team, we’ve never played them before,” Denmark captain Henriette Ostergaard said.
“We knew we had to work hard at our end but that being said I don’t think they were that much better than us. I think we had good chances we should have scored on. They had a few lucky goals in the beginning, which kind of set us back a little bit. We knew we had to play defensive hockey and that’s what we did. I think we did a good job in our own end but we just lacked the last little bit.”
In the middle frame the Swiss became more dominant and gained momentum. They didn’t let the Danes create a single chance for a while and kept the puck in the Danish zone even when playing shorthanded.
The Danes managed to keep the score low until the Swiss netted three goals in the second half of the period. At 13:18 Stalder was free on the right side to make it 2-0 and two-and-a-half minutes later, seconds after a Danish penalty had expired, Sabrina Zollinger scored for Switzerland. With 60 seconds left Stalder scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway for the 5-0 score after two periods.
The Swiss also outshot Denmark in the last period in which Jeanette Langsager scored the consolation goal for the Scandinavians before Stalder completed her hat trick with a penalty shot.
The Swiss, supported by a vocal crowd of 450 fans in the mountain resort of Arosa, will continue the tournament against Norway on Saturday. Tonight the Czech Republic will play Norway.
“The teams from the Nordic countries are always athletic and fast. We analyzed Denmark as we will analyze Norway and go step by step,“ Stalder said.