The two teams that have dominated women’s hockey will clash one more time, as the United States and Canada have both reached the gold medal game at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The USA was the first to clinch a spot in the final after defeating Finland 5-0 in the semifinal round. While Finland is typically the only team to give the top two countries in the world much trouble, the United States was able to jump out to a quick lead when Gigi Marvin scored just over two minutes into the game.
US Overcomes Finnish Defense
From there, Finish goalie Noora Raty played well to keep her team in the game. But another goal late in the first period give the Americans a lead that seemed certain to hold up. They would add three more to make the final score 5-0 in favor of the USA.
According to American coach Robb Stauber, his team had worked hard to figure out a way to score consistently against a Finland team that plays tight defense in front of a world class goaltender.
“Tips. Screens. Deflections. You are going to have to get some ugly ones,” Stauber told USA TODAY. “Very excited by what I saw tonight…we had old medal preparation.”
Canada Dominates vs. OAR
Canada was similarly dominant in their semifinal victory over the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR). Jennifer Wakefield scored less than two minutes into the game for Canada, setting the stage for what looked like it could be a blowout win.
After that, things calmed down, as Canada went into the first intermission up only 1-0, and scored just once in the second period as well. But three more goals in the third left no doubt as to who was going to the gold medal game, as Canada took a 5-0 victory. Wakefield scored two goals to lead the Canadians to victory, while Shannon Szabados stopped 13 OAR shots to record a shutout in net.
The results mean that fans get the gold medal showdown that everyone expected, with the two co-favorites in the tournament facing off in the latest rendition of one of the best rivalries in sports. Canada has been a part of all six gold medal games in women’s hockey, while the USA has only missed out once. The Americans won the first gold medal in the sport back in 1998, while the Canadians have won four straight times since then.
With both teams having reasons to believe they could come out on top, a tight battle is expected. The Canadians won the round-robin battle between the two teams by a 2-1 score, but oddsmakers still give the Americans a slight edge. At bwin, the USA is a -120 favorite, thought the Canadians are listed at -110, making this a virtual coin flip in their eyes.
Considering the level of play of these two teams compared to the rest of the world, viewers should expect a hard-fought matchup between two sides who desperately want to win.
“What we are looking to do in the gold medal game is to do something extraordinary,” said USA forward Hilary Knight.