Hockey

Greg Hughes - Saturday Feb. 15, 2014 12:28 ET

Canada to face Swiss in women's hockey semifinal

Switzerland guaranteed its best finish ever

Team Switzerland
Team Switzerland celebrate beating Russia in their quarterfinal on Saturday. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Women's hockey is often seen as a battle between two powerhouses: Canada and the United States. Anything less than gold for either nation is considered a disappointment.  

Yet for Switzerland, advancing to the semifinal might be a victory in itself. Switzerland got by Russia on Saturday in their quarter-final, winning 2-0. 

The Swiss, led by their goalie Florence Schelling, will face Canada in the second semifinal on Monday at 12 p.m. ET, streaming live at cbc.ca/olympics.

The United States plays Sweden in the earlier semifinal at 7:30 a.m ET after the Swedes beat Finland in a hard-fought quarter-final. 

Of course, the odds are heavily stacked in favour of the Canadians. Canada and Switzerland have met twice in women's Olympic ice hockey, with Canada winning both meetings. Their most recent Olympic encounter was their opening game in Sochi, in which Canada won 5-0. 

Their other Olympic match took place in a group match at Vancouver 2010, in which Canada routed the Swiss 10-1, with nine different players scoring.

To make matters worse for the Swiss, they're facing a Canadian squad that looks stronger than ever. 

History is not on Switzerland's side: Canada has not lost a match in Olympic women's hockey since Nagano 1998, winning its last 18 games. Canada has now won the gold medal in each of the previous three Olympic Games.

Despite the overwhelming odds against them, the Swiss have reasons to feel good about their Sochi experience: Switzerland is guaranteed its best finish ever in women's Olympic hockey. Its previous best result was a fifth-place finish in Vancouver.

Switzerland's head coach, René Kammerer, is feeling tremendous pride in his team's performance in Sochi.

"I am so proud of the staff and the players. They have all put so much hard work in to this," Kammerer said. "We put up so much fight throughout that match and the goaltending and all of the team's performance was great."

Kammerer added that he felt his team's good preparation ended up helping the Swiss do better this time around.

"We had good preparation going into this game, especially about how to handle the noise from the home fans. We will enjoy this victory but we can't just simply tell our girls to win the next match. Plan A is to win and then we are guaranteed at least a silver.

"I hope people know how dangerous we are now."

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