Coach Sarah Murray promised Korea would get over the jitters and nerves that came with their Olympic debut along with all the history of being the first combined team ever to play in any games.
She was right.
Switzerland was better in its 2-0 win on Sunday, but the gap nowhere near as wide as it was the first time these teams met at the Pyeongchang Games _ an 8-0 rout in an Olympic opener that had everyone’s attention a day after the opening ceremony.
Janine Alder made 19 saves for the shutout with Florence Schelling getting a day off after playing in a 6-2 loss to the “Olympic athletes from Russia” in the quarterfinals. Evelina Raselli also scored for the 2014 bronze medalists, who are trying to finish fifth in these games.
They will play Japan, a 2-1 overtime winner over Sweden giving the Japanese a winning streak with their first two Olympic victories in their third Winter Games.
Swiss defenseman Christine Meier said the first period was challenging after a tough loss. It didn't help that the Koreans also played much better than the first meeting.
"They adjusted very well to the speed,'' Meier said. "That was the main point, and I think they had a lot of pressure. It was their first Olympic game."
Shin So Jung made 51 saves after giving up a hat trick to Alina Muller in the first period of the opener against Switzerland.
Even though the North Korean cheerleaders were not in attendance for the game featuring 12 North Korean players on the Korean roster, home fans brought the energy once again, waving flags and yelling every time a Korean got her stick on the puck or threatened to score.
“It’s amazing how much support our team is getting,” Murray said. “We definitely feel loved, especially being a host country. Nobody expected us to do well, and then we’re giving these teams a run for their money. And people coming to cheer us on, it feels good.”
Zollinger gave the Swiss the only goal they’d need with a one-timer from the left circle at 16:35 of the first. Raselli padded the margin with her slap shot from the slot through traffic at 18:52 that Shin had no chance on.
As part of the negotiations adding the North Koreans to the South Korea roster, Murray is required to dress three North Koreans each game. She had four in one game, and she said Jin Ok, captain of the North Koreans, dressed against Switzerland as a seventh defenseman. Jin didn’t get in the game, but North Korean forward Kim Un Hyang has played each game. She played 13 minutes, 33 seconds.
Tears streamed down Ayaka Toko’s face as she took her helmet off. Her slap shot at 3:16 of overtime squeezed under the glove arm of goalie Sara Grahn for the game-winner in the first game in this tournament to go past regulation.
“Being able to finish fifth or sixth place, that’s great for us moving forward for our upcoming generations, probably more respect for our Japanese team,’’ defenseman Akane Hosoyamada said. “I think it was a great win for us.’’
Japan had not won an Olympic game before concluding pool play with a 4-1 win over Korea 4-1. The Japanese had the benefit of fresh legs against Sweden with the Swedes routed 7-2 Saturday in the quarterfinals.
The Japanese had a goal taken off the board for goalie interference late in the first quarter. But they shook off the lost goal and took a 1-0 lead 1:43 into the second on a shot by Shiori Koike that the Japanese celebrated with a bow on the ice.
Lisa Johansson tied it up with a great play on a short-handed goal. She took the puck from Toko at the blue line, pushed it up ice to herself and then beat Nana Fujimoto putting a wrister top shelf at 6:25.