* Russians meet mighty Canada in semis
* Swiss top scorer Muller rues team exit (Adds quote, details)
By Simon Jennings
GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb 17 (Reuters) - The Olympic Athletes from Russia team trounced Switzerland 6-2 in an entertaining clash at the Kwandong Hockey Centre on Saturday to book a spot in the semi-finals of the women’s Olympic ice hockey tournament.
The Russians will take on four-times defending champions and heavy favourites Canada on Monday for a place in the final. The Canadians beat the Russians 5-0 in the group stages on Sunday.
Anna Shokhina capitalised on Lara Stalder’s mistake to give the Russians an unlikely lead seven minutes into the first period after the Swiss forward took a fraction too long to control a routine pass.
The Russians were shorthanded by two when Shokhina pounced on Stalder to force a turnover before bearing down on the Swiss goal and scooping a wrist shot high into the net.
The Swiss equalised with less than 10 seconds played in the second period after Alina Muller collected a Christine Meier pass and wove her way past three defenders before flicking a backhanded shot over Russian goaltender Nadezhda Alexandrova.
“We had a big goal of winning a medal here,” said the disappointed Muller, who was in tears after the defeat. “We started well, we kept going, we were one-nothing behind but didn’t stop fighting. I am proud of my team.”
Muller is the tournament’s top scorer with seven goals, but the personal milestone was overshadowed by the exit of her team, who won bronze at the Sochi Games four years ago.
“Now it’s not worth anything,” she added. “I am happy about that but at the moment it’s hard to be happy about anything. Maybe in some days I can look back and be proud of my team and maybe we can regret nothing.”
Stalder made amends when she put the Swiss ahead on the powerplay with a classy shot into the top corner, but the Russians were back on level terms minutes later when Viktoria Kulishova tucked home a rebound.
Liana Ganeyeva took advantage of a powerplay for the Russians to extend the lead with just over a minute left in the second period by directing Shokina’s powerful shot from just inside the blue line past Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling.
Shokhina scored again in the final period and Olga Sosina added a sixth late on to put the finishing touches on the rout.
Switzerland will play the unified Korean team, who they beat 8-0 earlier in the tournament, in a classification game on Sunday. (Reporting by Simon Jennings; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)