As expected, Canada exactly matched what the Americans did earlier today, defeating their semi-finals opponent, 5-0.
Canada did it by scoring early in every period. Jenn Wakefield had two of the three, and Shannon Szabados had a fairly easy time of it to record the shutout by blocking 19 shots. Canada fired 49 shots on the two OAR goalies.
The win sets up another gold-medal showdown between these two titans of women’s hockey in three days' time. Russia, meanwhile, will play Finland for bronze on Wednesday.
"I think we’re just ready to play in the final," Wakefield enthused. "I don’t think too much about it. It’s what you train four years for. It’s pretty awesome. It’s what you want. You never want to play in that consolation game. It was pretty fun to go out and play in a final. It’s the Olympics. It’s the epitome of women’s hockey."
"If you look at all our games," offered Olga Sosina, "you'll see that we improved through the tournament. We created more chances in this game [compared with the first 0-5 against Canada]. But again, we had too many penalties. Now, we must go out and try to win bronze."
Canada will try to make history by winning five consecutive Olympic gold medals, something no hockey team, men or women, has ever done.
"We didn’t start the way we wanted," said Canadian forward Melodie Daoust, "but we finished really strong in the third period. That’s how we want to play moving forward. I think it was really important for us to go back to the little details and being able to adapt our game plan and switch it. This team was really big for us, and being able to finish the way we did is really good momentum heading into the next game."
Canada’s win tonight in Gangneung was hardly the all-out thrashing many expected. Indeed, the Canadians looked a little rusty (from a four-day layoff) and perhaps a little disinterested (in playing an opponent they’ve never lost to).
Be that as it may, they got the job done and have plenty of time--too much time?--to prepare for the most important game of the last four years.
The Athletes didn't do themsevles any favours by taking too many penalties. In all, Canada had seven power plays and the Canadians were short-handed only once.
Canada got exactly the kind of start it typically gets against lesser teams, scoring early and dimming their hopes of upset right away. Tonight, it was Jennifer Wakefield who got the goal, but it was Natalie Spooner who did the heavy lifting.
She went into the corner among a scrum of players, emerged with the puck, and got it to Wakefield in the slot. Wakefield wired a clean shot in at 1:50 for the quick lead.
The Olympic Athletes should have tied the game midway through the period. Yelena Dergachyova had the puck to the back side of Shannon Szabados with a wide-open net, but somehow she managed to poke the puck laterally, into the goalie’s pads.
"Probably a little bit of luck," Szabados said of the save. "It was a pass across, and I made the first save, but I didn’t really see it come off. So I was a little late getting there and was lucky to get a piece of it."
"We wanted to put up more of a fight," said OAR coach Alexei Chistyakov, "but we have to be realistic about [playing Canada]. It was sad that we couldn't score. In the period we were still in the game, we had a good chance but we couldn't score into an open net."
Canada then made it 2-0 with a goal early in the second. This time it was a little razzle dazzle from Melodie Daoust in the OAR end before she dished off to captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who backhanded a high shot over Valeria Tarakanova’s glove.
The third repeated a pattern asWakefield got her second of the nigth just 1:59 in. She glided out in frotn and took a quick shot that went under the arm of Tarakanova and in from a terrible angle. Just 31 seconds later, Emily Clark got to a loose puck from close range and snapped a fourth goal in.
Coach Alexei Chistyakov was in no mood and quickly replaced Tarakanova with Nadezhda Alexandrova. Still, Rebecca Johnston connected for a power-play goal at 14:08 when she smacked home her own rebound.