- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Goalie Noora Raty was angry, her coach was glum, and the Finnish women’s hockey team knows it has work to do to prepare for the Olympic medal round.

And that’s after a victory.

Jenni Hiirikoski scored her second goal of the game with 2:22 left in overtime on Wednesday to help the 2010 bronze medalists escape with a 4-3 victory over Switzerland. The Finns earned the No. 3 seed in the Olympic playoffs, but the close game against a team that had yet to score in Sochi left them vowing to do better when they get there.

“It’s always important to get the first win,” said Raty, a two-time NCAA champion at Minnesota, who had 24 saves. “But I’m not happy with the way we played.”

Linda Valimaki made a centering pass to Hiirikoski that was redirected past Florence Schelling to ensure Finland’s spot as the top-seeded team in the quarterfinals.

“Our hottest players, they both made two goals and were the leaders we needed,” coach Mika Pienniemi said, adding that he felt better about his team after losses to the United States and Canada than he did after narrow win over the Swiss. “We need to be ready to play against the European teams as we were against the North American teams.”

The United States and Canada, each with 2-0 records heading into their matchup later Wednesday, have already earned a bye into the semifinals. The North American teams have won every Olympic gold medal and world championship in the history of the women’s game.

Finland will play on Saturday against the loser of the round-robin game between Russia and Sweden, with the other facing Switzerland.

“It’s getting to be the fun part now,” said Michelle Karvinen, who also scored twice for Finland. “I’ve been looking forward to getting to the real part of the tournament.”

Finland lost 3-1 to the United States and 3-0 to Canada. Switzerland lost to the North American teams by a combined score of 14-0.

“We weren’t really expecting to get a win against the U.S. and Canada. That would have been a plus,” Raty said. Switzerland “got too many scoring chances from my point of view. The thing we’re going to see now is how you’re going to learn from your mistakes.”

Karvinen scored to make it 2-0 in the first period and then, after Romy Eggimann and Phoebe Stanz scored for the Swiss to tie it, Karvinen added another goal to make it 3-2. Stefanie Marty scored with 3:35 left in regulation to send the game into overtime. Schelling made 40 saves for Switzerland.

“We now know we can score goals. We know we can come back,” Swiss coach Rene Kammerer said. “So we will be ready.”

Kammerer said he did not believe that forward Evelina Raselli was trying to hurt anyone when she was given a game misconduct for kicking after she was cross-checked to the ice in front of the net. The coach said he thought she might have just stuck her leg out as she fell.

“I know her,” he said. “She’s not that (type of) player.”


Follow Jimmy Golen on Twitter at: https://www.twitter.com/jgolen .

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