Heavyweights Canada and USA line up for final showdown in women’s ice hockey
In a repeat of the Vancouver 2010 final, defending Olympic champions Canada and reigning world champions USA will go head to head in the women's ice hockey gold medal match at Sochi 2014.
In the semi-finals, the USA overpowered Sweden 6-1, while Canada defeated Switzerland 3-1 to set up a showdown at the Bolshoy Ice Dome on 20 February. The Swedish and Swiss teams will meet earlier in the day to decide the destination of the bronze medal.
“It is surreal. I don't think I am going to realise I was here until the Olympics are over,” said Canadian forward Natalie Spooner, who scored a double in her sides win against the Swiss.
“We are going for gold and that is the game we want to be in.”
Canada have won the last three Olympic gold medals, while the Americans have won four of the last five women's world championship titles, but they are desperate to end their Olympic drought in Sochi.
“It's all in our control,” said US defenceman Anne Schleper after helping her team through to the final.
“We both have talented players. It's really up to who is ready to bring it or not. It's about not making mistakes - that's how games are won.”
Alex Carpenter and Kacey Bellamy scored just 66 seconds apart in the first period as the United States crushed Sweden at the Shayba Arena.
Amanda Kessel, Megan Bozek, Brianna Decker and Monique Lamoureux also scored for the Americans, who have now beaten Sweden 12 out of the past 13 times they have faced each other in major international games.
“It's awesome,” said American forward Lamoureux. “I think it's something we were expected to do. We've been preparing for it for the last four years and putting in a lot of work.”
Jessie Vetter had to make just eight saves for the USA, while Swedish goaltenders Valentina Wallner and Kim Martin Hasson faced 70 shots between them.
Valentina was especially busy as she endured a 32 minute spell in which the USA peppered her with 47 shots.
In an indicator of the dominance of the Americans, US goaltender Jessie Vetter had to make just eight saves for the USA while her counterparts, Valentina Wallner and then Kim Martin Hasson, faced 70 shots between them.
“The USA showed they are one of the best teams in the world,” reflected Swedish coach Niclas Hoegberg.
The USA won four straight games against Canada in a pre-Olympic exhibition series including a convincing 5-1 victory. However, the Canadians defeated the Americans 3-2 in the preliminary round phase in Sochi.