SOCHI, Russia — The losing didn’t bother the Swiss, even as they were slogging through the round-robin without a victory and finishing last in its group.
Sure, the 9-0 loss to the US hurt. But a 5-0 victory by Canada was the closest Switzerland had ever come to the three-time defending Olympic champions, and a playoff victory over Russia put the Swiss in the semifinals. When they lost just 3-1 to Canada in the semifinals, they felt like they were ready to claim their first women’s hockey medal.
‘‘We didn’t care about the color of a medal,’’ said goalie Florence Schelling, who stopped 28 shots to help Switzerland beat Sweden, 4-3, in the bronze- medal game Thursday. ‘‘A medal is a medal.’’
Jessica Lutz broke a third-period tie with 6:17 to play as Switzerland rallied from a two-goal deficit with four straight third-period goals to earn just its second victory of the Sochi Games. Sara Benz and Phoebe Stanz scored to help Switzerland tie the score, and Aline Muller scored a 175-foot empty-netter with 67 seconds left that turned out to be the difference.
‘‘Everybody believed in those two goals, and then we even scored four,’’ Stanz said. ‘‘When the first goal went in, that’s like when the knot unties. That’s how it was for our team. The second goal going in, that just showed us that it only takes one more goal to win this game.’’
Because of the tournament format, Switzerland was lumped in a round-robin group with the three top-ranked teams in the world — including the US and Canada. But it also meant the Swiss were guaranteed a spot in the playoffs without winning a game, and they needed just one victory to reach the medal round.
So, when they lost as expected to the US, Canada, and Finland, they never lost their confidence.
‘‘We knew it would be like that, and we were really prepared for that,’’ forward Katrin Nabholz said. ‘‘When it was 2-0, we knew we had nothing to lose. Then, we are at our best.’’