Staenz, Switzerland Earn Historic Bronze Medal at Olympics

Yale's Phoebe Staenz earned a bronze medal at the Olympics Thursday.
Yale's Phoebe Staenz earned a bronze medal at the Olympics Thursday.

Bulldog Freshman Scores as Swiss Rally Past Sweden 4-3

SOCHI, Russia – Freshman forward Phoebe Staenz (Zürich, Switzerland) of the Yale women's ice hockey team was a part of history Thursday at the Olympics, helping the Swiss women's ice hockey team earn its first Olympic medal. Trailing 2-0 vs. Sweden entering the third period, the Swiss scored four goals -- including the game-tying goal from Staenz on a power play -- to rally for the 4-3 win at Bolshoy Ice Dome. With the win, Switzerland earns the bronze medal.

Staenz is the second Yale women's ice hockey player to earn an Olympic medal, joining Helen Resor '09 (who earned a bronze with the U.S. in the 2006 Olympics).

The bronze medal game began inauspiciously for Staenz and her teammates. Sweden, which had won two medals at previous Olympic games (silver in 2006 and bronze in 2002) outshot Switzerland 10-1 in the first period while taking a 1-0 lead. In the second period the Swiss had a 12-10 shot advantage but Sweden scored the only goal, taking a 2-0 lead late in the period on a goal by forward Erica Uden Johansson, who plays for Yale's ECAC Hockey rival Quinnipiac.

Switzerland's rally started with a goal by forward Sarah Benz 78 seconds into the final period. Staenz then tied the game on a power play with 13:47 left in the game, assisted by her 15-year-old line mate Alina Muller.

After killing off a penalty shortly after that goal, Switzerland went ahead 3-2 on a goal by forward Jessica Lutz with 6:17 remaining. An empty-net goal by Muller with 1:07 to play made the score 4-2, and Sweden was able to get one more goal before time expired and the Swiss celebration began. Goalie Florence Schelling made 28 saves for the win.

Staenz finished the Olympics with a team-high 26 shots on goal. She scored two goals, including one against Finland last Thursday that made her the first Yale women's ice hockey player to score a goal in the Olympics. She saw a total of 123:29 of ice time in six games.

Thursday's victory was the second win of the Olympics for Switzerland, which lost its first three games (5-0 to Canada, 9-0 to the U.S. and 4-3 to Finland in overtime) before beating host Russia 2-0 in the quarterfinals Saturday. Staenz scored on a power play eight minutes into the second period of the loss to Finland. She led her team in shots on goal in the first two games, then had the second-most on the team in the third game and fourth games.

Switzerland fell to Canada 3-1 in the semifinal round Monday at Shayba Arena, with Staenz tying for the team lead in shots on goal with five.

The U.S. and Canada will play for gold on Thursday at Noon Eastern. Switzerland, which entered the Olympics ranked No. 5 in the world in women's ice hockey, had finished fifth at the 2010 Olympics and seventh at the 2006 Olympics.

The Olympic women's ice hockey competition takes place Feb. 8-20. The eight-team tournament started with teams competing in groups of four. Switzerland was in "Group A" with No. 2 Canada, No. 3 Finland and No. 1 USA. After three games of round-robin play within each group, the top two teams in Group A (Canada and the U.S.) advanced directly to the semifinals. The third- and fourth-place finishers in Group A played the second- and first-place finishers from Group B (No. 4 Russia and No. 6 Sweden), respectively, in the quarterfinals. Sweden beat Finland 4-2 to advance to the semis along with Canada, Switzerland and the U.S.

The classification round included No. 3 Finland, No. 7 Germany, No. 10 Japan and No. 4 Russia. Finland beat Russia 4-0 to finish fifth, and Germany beat Japan 3-2 to finish seventh.

Staenz (whose last name is pronounced "Stence") was one of 21 players selected for Switzerland's roster. She has extensive experience playing with the Swiss National Team, including three appearances in the IIHF Women's World Championship (sixth place in 2013 in Ottawa, a bronze medal in 2012 in Vermont and a sixth-place finish in 2011 in Switzerland). Prior to making the Swiss National Team for the World Championship in 2011 she played for the Swiss Under-18 team for three years.

Staenz, a resident of Ezra Stiles college at Yale, has made an instant impact for the Bulldogs. She currently leads the team in goals and points (9-14-23). Her selection to the Olympic roster this past January was another milestone for the Yale program. The other Bulldog women's ice hockey players in Olympic history were Resor and Denise Soesilo '10 (Germany), who played at the 2006 Olympics, and Natalie Babony '06 (Slovakia), who played at the 2010 Olympics. Yale's former head coach, Hilary Witt, is an assistant coach with Team USA this year.

Resor had two assists in the 2006 games, including one in the U.S. team's 4-0 win over Finland for the bronze medal. Soesilo and Germany finished fifth that year, with Soesilo getting one assist -- on the game-winning goal in a 5-2 win over Italy that earned Germany a spot in the 5/6 classification round game. Babony had one assist in 2010, when Slovakia finished eighth.


Switzerland Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Results

  • Saturday, Feb. 8, 8:00 a.m. Eastern time: Canada 5, Switzerland 0
  • Monday, Feb. 10, 5:00 a.m. Eastern time: USA 9, Switzerland 0
  • Wednesday, Feb. 12, 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time: Finland 4, Switzerland 3 OT
  • Saturday, Feb. 15, 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time, Quarterfinals: Switzerland 2, Russia 0
  • Monday, Feb. 17, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Semifinals: Canada 3, Switzerland 1
  • Thursday, Feb. 20, 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, Bronze Medal Game: Switzerland 4, Sweden 3


Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity