April 11, 2012

Finland used first-period goals by Karolina Rantamaki and Susana Tapani and 43 saves by Noora Raty to nip Sweden, 2-1, in the quarterfinal round of the Women's World Ice Hockey Championship Wednesday.

Finland moves on to the semifinals vs. Canada Friday at 3 p.m.

Rantamaki found the net just 21 seconds into the contest, converting a pass after a rush into the attacking zone by Anne Helin on the first shift. Tapani made it 2-0, on assists from Michelle Karvinen and Terhi Mertanen, as Finland took advantage of a poor Sweden clearing pass with 3:02 left before the intermission.

Sweden began to carry the play in the second period when it outshot the Fins, 20-6. But most of the shots came from the perimeter, and Raty robbed Frida Nevalainen on an early power play.

Raty, who made 40 saves in a 3-2 loss to Canada Sunday in pool play, stopped Sweden's first 42 tonight before Elin Holmlov made it a one-goal game with seven minutes to go.

"It really helps to score first to beat a team like Sweden," said Raty, who backstopped the University of Minnesota to the 2012 NCAA Championship in March. "I saw the puck well and made some easy saves early on to get into a rhythm.

"Sometimes it's easier to stay focused when you see 30 or 40 shots than 10."

Finland protected its 2-1 lead the rest of the way by keeping Sweden away from Raty. Scoreless on its five man-advantage bids, Finland killed all eight of Sweden's power plays, including four in the second.

Sara Grahn made 25 saves for the Swedes, who will take on Russia in the fifth-place game Friday at 5 p.m.

Finland will be making its 14th straight appearance in the tournament semifinals, and will be looking for its first trip to the gold medal game. The Finland-Canada winner will take on the winner of the United States and Switzerland. The Swiss topped Russia 5-2 in Wednesday's first semifinal.

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