By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
The North Dakota alumnae trio of Michelle Karvinen, Susanna Tapani and Emma Nuutinen each scored a goal and Finland eliminated its rival Sweden from any chance at a medal with a convincing 7-2 victory Saturday in the quarterfinal round of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR), which lost all three games in Pool A play, surprised previously unbeaten Switzerland 6-2 in the other quarterfinal in Pyeongchang, South Korea and set up the pairings for the semifinals, which begin Sunday night.
Four-time Olympic defending champion Canada will face OAR at 6:10 a.m. (CST) Monday in one semifinal. The United States, winners of the last four world championships, will play Finland and its goalie, Noora Räty, the former Minnesota all-American who became the winningest goalie in Olympic history Saturday. Räty made 19 saves in her ninth career Olympic victory and her play has given Karvinen, the Olympic veteran who also had an assist against Sweden, hope.
A recap of the quarterfinal game and Karvinen's thoughts about the matchup against the U.S.: http://pyeongchang2018.iihf.hockey/women/news/fin-swe/
There are 37 current and former Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) athletes competing in the 2018 Games and 30 of them will play in the Olympics' version of Frozen Four. Here is another look at the semifinal matchups:
In the other quarterfinal Saturday, OAR stunned Switzerland, who won a bronze medal in 2014. A recap is here: http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/oar-offensive-outburst-lifts-team-6-2-win-over-switzerland
Lara Stalder, a former Minnesota Duluth star who is third in Olympic scoring, had a goal for the Swiss, who will now play in the classification round against winless Korea at 9:10 p.m. CST tonight. Sweden will meet Japan at 1:40 a.m. Sunday in the other classification game.
The bronze medal game is set for Wednesday and the gold medal game is on Thursday.
The standings from Pool A and Pool B's preliminary rounds are here: http://pyeongchang2018.iihf.hockey/women/
Switzerland's Muller is the top scorer in the tournament with 10 points (7 goals, 3 assists) and her teammate Christine Meier has eight (0-8). Stalder (3 goals, 3 assists) is third in Olympic scoring with six points and has one more point than Karvinen (3 goals, 2 assists). Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, a former North Dakota star, is Team USA's top scorer with three points (2-1), tying her with UMD alumna Pernilla Winberg of Sweden (2-1).
Among other WCHA alumnae in the tournament, Brianna Decker has two points with two assists and Finland's Minnamari Tuuomin (1-1) has two points. Sara Nurse, Sweden's Johanna Fällman, Canada's Haley Irwin, and Team USA's Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Gigi Marvin, Hannah Brandt and Dani Cameranesi have each scored one goal. Canada's Jocelyn Larocque and Brigette Lacquette, and the United States' Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight each have an assist, whiel Annie Svedin of Sweden registered an assist Saturday. Räty has two victories, a 2.29 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in tournament play, while Maddie Rooney of Team USA and Ann-Renée Desbiens of Canada (a shutout) have posted goaltending victories.
NBC will broadcast and stream the games live. Erika Lawler, a former U.S. Olympian who played at Wisconsin, and Tessa Bonhomme, the former Ohio State all-American who won a gold medal for Team Canada, are part of NBC's coverage.
In addition to the current and former WCHA stars who are competing on the ice, Sarah Murray, a former athlete at Minnesota Duluth, is the coach of the historic Korean team. Murray said Saturday that she plans to continue coaching after the Games. A story is here: http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/south-korea-hockey-coach-will-stay-two-more-years
Team USA includes 14 former and current WCHA players. Team Canada includes nine former and current WCHA players, while Team Finland has seven, Team Sweden features five WCHA alumnae and Team Switzerland has two players with WCHA ties.
Here is the breakdown of WCHA players on the rosters.
* -- denotes that player has eligibility remaining
Goaltenders (2): Alex Rigsby, Wisconsin; *Maddie Rooney, Minnesota Duluth
Defense (4): Monique Lamoureux-Morando, North Dakota; Gigi Marvin, Minnesota; Lee Stecklein, Minnesota; Sidney Morin, Minnesota Duluth
Forwards (8): Hannah Brandt, Minnesota; Dani Cameranesi, Minnesota; Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Meghan Duggan, Wisconsin; Amanda Kessel, Minnesota Hilary Knight, Wisconsin; Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, North Dakota; *Kelly Pannek, Minnesota
Goaltender (1): Ann-Renée Desbiens, Wisconsin
Defense (3): Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth; Jocelyne Larocque, Minnesota Duluth; Meaghan Mikkelson, Wisconsin
Forwards (5): *Emily Clark, Wisconsin; Haley Irwin, Minnesota Duluth; Sarah Nurse, Wisconsin; Natalie Spooner, Ohio State; Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin
Goalie (2): Noora Räty, Minnesota; Eveliina Suonpää, Minnesota Duluth
Defense (1): Mira Jalosuo, Minnesota
Forwards (4): Michelle Karvinen, North Dakota; Susanna Tapani, North Dakota; Emma Nuutinen, North Dakota; Minnamari Tuominen, Ohio State
Defense (3): Johanna Fallman, North Dakota; Emilia Andersson Ramboldt, Minnesota State; Annie Svedin, Ohio State
Forwards (2): Maria Lindh, Minnesota Duluth; Pernilla Winberg, Minnesota Duluth
Goalie (1): *Janine Alder, St. Cloud State
Forwards (1): Lara Stalder, Minnesota Duluth