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Canada and Sweden edge semi-finals to set up battle of the champions in men’s ice hockey

21/02/2014

Defending champions Canada beat USA 1-0 to reach their second-straight Olympic men’s ice hockey final. They will meet 2006 Olympic gold medallists Sweden, who outmanoeuvred Finland to win their semi-final 2-1.

In a rematch of the 2010 final, the Canadians played a tactically disciplined match, opening the scoring early in the second period through Jamie Benn before smothering out the attacks of the normally potent Americans, as goaltender Carey Price completed a 31-shot shutout.

“We wanted to stay on them and control the play in their end,” said goalscorer Benn, who was only a late addition to the squad for Sochi 2014.

“(Ryan) Getzlaf found me in the middle," Benn said. “Jay [Bouwmeester] made a great pass back to me. I found a way to get it into the back of the net.”

Benn’s captain, Sidney Crosby said his team must now make the most of the final: “It’s another opportunity. We all worked hard a long time to get to play in the gold medal game.”

The Americans had been the most explosive attacking team in Sochi going into their semi-final, with 20 goals, but against the Canadians lacked their normal cutting edge.

US defenceman Ryan Suter felt his team had been too cautious. “We didn't show up to play. It's kind of frustrating. We were passive… We sat on our heels and just didn't take it to them at all.”

Swedes win Nordic tussle

The day’s first semi-final was a rematch of the Turin 2006 final, in which Sweden preserved their unbeaten record in Sochi at Finland’s expense.

The Swedes came from behind to win 2-1, with Erik Karlsson's power play goal, late in the second period, proving decisive. Karlsson is now joint top points scorer at Sochi 2014, with eight.

“It's unbelievable,” said Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. “We really had to work hard this time. They're a very disciplined team.”

Finland were missing several key players including Saku Koivu and Aleksander Barkov, and not even Teemu Selanne, the all-time Olympic points record holder, could save them.

“It was disappointing, obviously,” said Selanne who plans to step down after Sochi 2014. “We couldn't play our best game this tournament today.”

The bronze medal match between USA and Finland takes place on 22 February at the Bolshoi Ice Dome, which will also host the final the following evening, bringing the sporting action at Sochi 2014 to a close.

Sochi 2014 photos

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