The United States will once again have to battle their archrival Canada if they want to win the country’s first gold medal in women’s hockey since 1998.
Team USA showed once again how dominate they could be as the Americans got goals from six different players and at least 15 players registered at least a point in the game against Sweden. Sweden was no match for Team USA on this day as they were outshot 70-9. Think about that for a second. Clearly the Americans were not looking past Sweden today.
Team USA got goals from Alex Carpenter, Kacey Bellamy, Amanda Kessel, Monique Lamoureux, Megan Bozek, and Brianna Decker. The Americans came out strong and led 3-0 after the 1st period and never took the foot off the gas pedal.
The Americans scored three more goals over the next two periods and the result was academic. Jesse Vetter was never tested, but Sweden was able to get one goal by her. Vetter stopped eight of nine shots she faced. Sweden’s lone goal came from Anna Borgqvist
Team USA is now playing for the gold medal in women’s hockey for the fourth time in history. The only time they did not play for the gold medal was in 2006 when Sweden beat them in the semifinals.
Canada on the other hand had a much tougher came against Switzerland because of Swiss goaltender Florence Schnelling. Schnelling stopped 64 shots in the first meeting against Canada, where Switzerland lost 5-0. She was going to have to be just as good if the Swiss were going to pull the upset of the century.
However, it was not meant to be as Natalie Spooner scored her first two career Olympic goals and Melodie Daoust added Canada’s third goal all of which came in the first period. This game could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t not for the brilliant play of Schnelling. Schnelling stopped 45 of 48 shots she faced.
Her counterpart Shannon Szabados played excellent as well. She had not played a game for Canada in over a week and looked sharp. Szabados had to come up with big saves after Canada made some big turnovers. The only goal she gave up was to Jessica Lutz, however; that was without controversy.
It had appeared Szabados had the puck covered and referee was going to blow the whistle, but the Swiss got the puck free and put the puck into the empty net. After the play was reviewed the goal was upheld and Canada did not respond in the period. With the Swiss having the scoring edge 1-0, it marked the first time in history Switzerland won a 20-minute period off Canada.
The period also featured some great goaltending. Alina Muller was robbed by Szabados, but Schelling took goals away from Marie-Philip Poulin and Spooner, both of whom had great chances from in close to restore Canada’s two-goal led.
The Swiss will play Sweden for the bronze in two days’ time, and given their fine performance here, the play of Schelling and the fact that they won bronze in 2012, the prospects are good for a team that only a few years ago was hardly to be considered a medal prospect.
Canada will be in the gold medal game for the fifth time and will be looking to become the third team to win four Olympic medals in a row in hockey. The Canadian men did it from 1920 to 1932, and the Soviet Union did it 1964 to 1976.
Clearly, the United States and Canada are the best two teams in women’s hockey. Both teams will give it all they got and will leave nothing on the ice once this game is over. Considering the trend these two teams have followed history would show the winner of the preliminary game loses the gold medal. So if that is the case, the United States could wind up with the gold medal on Thursday.