While there are doubts about the competitiveness of the men’s team, the Chinese women’s team has shown at the start of the tournament that it is capable of reaching the quarter-finals. This ticket is not yet officially acquired, but his last two performances have allowed him to set foot there.
Heckled by the Czechs at the opening, the Chinese first crucified Denmark with a winning goal from Rachel Llanes 50 seconds from the end, before achieving an even more remarkable performance on Sunday by beating the Japanese, favorites like the Czechs in group B. Kimberly Newell alias Jiaying Zhou, a 26-year-old goalkeeper who rarely disappoints in the Russian ZhHL with the KRS Vanke Rays, caused a sensation in net, in addition to sporting splendid dragon pads. 54 saves from 56 shots against the Danes and the Japanese, Newell became the heroine of the ‘Lady Dragons’ by stopping all of Japan’s shots in the shootout. But apart from Newell, this eye-catching China has mostly displayed a lot of solidarity and energy.
From the Japanese already qualified with this point snatched from the Chinese, the Czech Republic and China well placed, the pressure increased a notch for the Swedes who lost their first two matches. And to make matters worse for Sweden, earlier in the day Denmark surprised Czechia 3-2, a first victory for the Danes in their first Olympic appearance.
Remember that it is the first three teams of group B that will go to the quarter-finals. Damkronorna lost by the same score, 3-1, against the Czechs and the Japanese. Last, it is therefore mandatory for him to win the other two games within 60 minutes, starting with this one against China.
Uncertain because of a knee injury against the Czechs, the experienced defender Johanna Fällman is present in the alignment of the three crowns. On the other hand, less surprisingly on the Chinese side, Zhang Mengying is in the stands, injured in a collision with a teammate against Japan, she had remained on the ice for long minutes before being evacuated on a stretcher.
Although they had played the day before, the Chinese showed great freshness at the start of the match and created the first clear chances through Taylor Lum and Anna Segedi. This very good start to the match will finally be rewarded: Kassy Betinol manages to get around the Swedish defense, overflows and adjusts goalkeeper Söderberg, 1-0 for China. The Swedes are struggling to create clear chances, they are jostled, and the Chinese public gives voice. China clearly leads the debates in this first period (13 shots to 9), and Rachel Llanes, totally forgotten by Sweden who is then outnumbered, does not miss much to double the lead: her shot is diverted from the legging by Emma Söderberg.
China is well launched in this match but the Swedes will manage to reverse the trend in a very short period of time. A good solo play from Hjalmarsson, which eliminated two Chinese players, served as a warning, then a penalty shot awarded to Damkronorna in the 26th minute put Sweden back on track. Felizia Wikner-Zienkiewicz rushes and marks the right corner. 85 seconds later, Josefin Bouveng is moving in the axis in the offensive zone and scores with a cross shot: 2-1 for Sweden. Less stressed, Ulf Lundberg’s players are more confident and more incisive, they could even have benefited from a first numerical advantage, a charge from Miller on Bergström being punishable. Last scare all the same before the second break for Emma Söderberg who managed to repel an attempt by Segedi, the puck went up in the air to come down again… on the crossbar!
14 shots everywhere and only one goal difference after 40 minutes, that augurs a spectacular third period. A lot of effort is provided on both sides, but Sweden finally gets a first numerical superiority after a Chinese foul. A penalty quickly forgotten because Kolstad made an excellent game in the defensive zone, she blocked a shot then challenged in a counter against Nylén-Persson who made a mistake in turn. China is definitely very catchy, and the Swedes are once again dominating. If Maddie Woo badly negotiates a 2 against 1, the most prominent at the end of the match is Rui Zhu who gets several chances in the space of a few minutes: a shot on the post then a deflection which passes a few centimeters … The Swedes round their backs.
Ulf Lundberg feels that he is losing his players again and asks for a time out six minutes from the end, just to set the record straight. However, this will not prevent the Chinese from achieving two intense last minutes in the Swedish camp thanks to an additional outfield player. Llanes misses the puck in front of a completely open angle, Camryn Wong produces dangerous strikes, the Swedes repel the Chinese attacks with great difficulty, until in the last tense seconds when the puck circulates in front of the goal in the fray of players!
Not without difficulty and immense fears, Sweden won in extremis 2-1, their first victory in Beijing, and revived (in turn) for the quarter-finals. This Chinese defeat allows the Czechs to join the already qualified Japanese. There is still one place to be allocated. Destiny is no longer in the hands of the Chinese, authors of a new remarkable performance, who have played their four matches. Their only chance is for Denmark to beat Sweden in extra time. Another result would qualify one of the two Scandinavian teams, the one that will win tomorrow.
China – Sweden 1-2 (1-0, 0-2, 0-0)
Monday, February 7, 2022 at 9:10 p.m. at the Wukesong Sports Center in Beijing. 588 spectators.
Refereeing by Anniina Nurmi (FIN) and Anna Wiegand (SUI) assisted by Jenni Heikkinen (FIN) and Julia Kainberger (AUT).
Penalties: China 2′ (0′, 0′, 2′), Sweden 6′ (2′, 2′, 2′).
Shots: China 33 (13, 6, 14), Sweden 33 (9, 15, 9).
1-0 at 05’16: Betinol assisted by T. Lum
1-1 at 25’14: Wikner-Zienkiewicz
1-2 at 26’39: Bouveng assisted by Nylén-Persson and Wawin
Leah Lum (Qiqi LinA, -1) – Hannah Miller (The Mi-1) – Rachel Llanes (Ni Lin-1)
Xin Fang – Rebekah Kolstad (Beika Li) – Maddie Woo (Baozhen Hu)
Kassy Betinol (Mulan Kang) – Taylor Lum (Jiaxin Lin+1) – Anna Segedi (Xifang Zhang+1)
Xin He – Rui Zhu – Yingying Guan
Camryn Wong (Huier Huang2′) – Jessica Wong (Yuting Wang)
Baiwei Yu (C) – Zhixin Liu (+1)
Anna Fairman (Anna Fei) – Qinan Zhao
Kim Newell (Jiaying-Zhou g) [sortie à 57’46]
Replacements: Tiya Chen (Tia Chan) (L), Qianhua Li. In reserve: Yuqing Wang (L), Mengying Zhang (A).
Josefin Bouveng (+1) – Michelle Löwenhielm (C, +1, 2′) – Lina Ljungblom (+1)
Emma Murén – Linnea Johansson – Olivia Carlsson
Sofie Lundin (-1) – Emma Nordin (-1) – Felizia Wikner-Zienkiewicz (-1)
Lisa Johansson – Sara Hjalmarsson – Linn Peterson
Maja Nylén-Persson (A, +1, 2′) – Paula Bergström (2′)
Johanna Fallman – Jessica Adolfsson
Anna Kjellbin (A, -1) – Mina Waxin
Subs: Ida Boman (G), Linnea Andersson. In reserve: Agnes Åker (G).