Schelling’ 8th win ties goalie mark as Swiss beat Japan 3-1

Pyeongchang Olympics Ice Hockey Women_313591

Sara Benz (13), of Switzerland, celebrates after scoring a goal against Japan during the second period of the preliminary round of the women’s hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) Switzerland’s Florence Schelling put on a defensive show to tie the Olympic record for most wins by a goaltender.

Even if she insists she didn’t know she was that close to the mark set by Canada’s Kim St. Pierre.

Schelling made 37 saves Monday for her eighth career victory in the Winter Games, helping Switzerland smother Japan’s quest for its first Olympic victory in women’s hockey with a 3-1 win.

”I didn’t know about that,” Schelling said, laughing. ”It’s great, but I’m not here to break any records. I’m here to be with the Swiss team and make history with the Swiss team.”

Schelling tied St. Pierre’s Olympic mark for most shutouts with her fourth in Switzerland’s opening 8-0 win over the combined Korea team on Saturday night. Schelling came in trailing St. Pierre and also Russia’s Irina Gashennikova and Noora Raty of Finland, both tied with seven wins all-time. Raty and the Finns lost their opener to the United States with Canada up next.

Now Schelling has a chance for more Wednesday when the Swiss, the 2014 bronze medalist, plays Sweden to wrap up the preliminary round. But the four-time Olympian considers matching St. Pierre quite the honor.

”I was lucky enough actually to meet her when I was living in Montreal,” Schelling said. ”I got to practice with her a couple times and got to know her as a person as well. She’s a great player like on and off the ice. I always enjoyed when I was playing against her, like she’s somebody to look up to.”

Schelling kept Switzerland in the game against the Japanese, who came in looking for their first win after going winless in 1998 in Nagano and again in 2014 in Sochi. Even with forward Rui Ukita sitting out, suspended for kicking at an opponent in Japan’s 2-1 opening loss to Sweden, they outshot the Swiss 38-18.

They had a 10-1 edge in shots and even had a 5-on-3 in the first period.

”That was a game changer,” Schelling said. ”That was key. I think the game would have looked a lot different if they got on the scoreboard first.”

By the time Hanae Kubo redirected Mika Hori’s shot for a goal at 7:33 of the third, Sara Benz gave Schelling the margin the goalie needed with two power-play goals in the second.

Benz scored from the right circle going top shelf at 10:19, and she finished off a breakaway before sliding into the net at 13:10. Alina Muller stole the puck and finished her own breakaway at 4:27 of the third.

Schelling was at her best over the final 3:46 with Japan pulling Nana Fujimoto for an extra attacker, turning aside puck after puck.

By simply being named to these games, Schelling and Raty tied Canada’s Kim Martin for the most Olympic berths by a goaltender at four apiece. For a day, Schelling now has played more Olympic games with 16 than any other goalie in the short history of women’s hockey in the Winter Games.

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