SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The losing didn't bother the Swiss women's hockey team, even as it was slogging through the round-robin without a victory and finishing last in its group.
Sure, the 9-0 loss to the United States hurt. But a 5-0 victory by Canada was the closest Switzerland had ever come to the three-time defending Olympic champions, and a playoff victory over Russia put the Swiss in the semifinals. When they lost just 3-1 to Canada in the semifinals, they felt like they were ready to claim their first women's hockey medal in the country's Olympic history.
"We didn't care about the color of a medal," said Florence Schelling, who stopped 28 shots to help Switzerland beat Sweden 4-3 in the bronze medal game on Thursday. "A medal is a medal."
Jessica Lutz broke a third-period tie with 6:17 to play as Switzerland rallied from a two-goal deficit with four straight third-period goals to earn just its second victory of the Sochi Games. Sara Benz and Phoebe Stanz scored to help Switzerland tie the game, and Aline Muller scored a 175-foot empty-netter with 67 seconds left that turned out to be the difference.
"Everybody believed in those two goals, and then we even scored four," Stanz said. "When the first goal went in, that's like when the knot unties. That's how it was for our team. The second goal going in, that just showed us that it only takes one more goal to win this game."
Because of the tournament format, Switzerland was lumped in a round-robin group with the three top-ranked teams in the world — including the United States and Canada, who were scheduled to play for the gold medal later Thursday. But it also meant the Swiss were guaranteed a spot in the playoffs without winning a game, and they needed just one victory to reach the medal round.
So, when they lost as expected to the U.S., Canada and Finland, they never lost their confidence.