Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Team USA, Canada return to gold medal game

American women pound Sweden 6-1

Express Staff Writer

     Six players scored and 15 players had at least one point as the U.S. Olympic women’s ice hockey team pounded Sweden 6-1 in Monday’s semifinals of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

     The victory at Shayba Arena puts Team USA into the gold-medal game on Thursday, Feb. 20 where the Americans will clash with three-time defending Olympic gold medalist Team Canada.

     The Canadians defeated Switzerland 3-1 in Monday’s other semi-final match-up at Shayba Arena. Team Canada scored three goals with a 16-5 shooting advantage in the first period and made it stand up, despite an outstanding goaltending effort by Switzerland’s Florence Schelling.

     Hilary Knight of Sun Valley entered Monday’s semi-final as the leading Team USA scorer with three goals and two assists, but the 24-year-old was held scoreless against Sweden.

     Scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. Mountain Standard Time is the gold medal game between Team USA and Team Canada at Bolshoy Ice Dome. It will be televised live on NBC television.

     Team USA lost 2-0 to Canada in the gold medal game at Vancouver, B.C., Canada four years ago. The Americans also fell 3-2 to Canada in the final group game at Shayba Arena Feb. 12.

     In Monday’s semi-final, Team USA came out strong, scoring three first-period goals while outshooting Sweden by a huge 29-1 margin in the first 20 minutes of play.

     Alex Carpenter of North Reading, Mass. opened the scoring on a power play at 6:10 of the first period when she one-timed a centering pass by linemate Kelli Stack of Brooklyn Heights, Ohio past Sweden goalie Valentina Wallner.

     Defenseman Kacey Bellamy of Westfield, Mass. made it 2-0 about a minute later on a hard shot from the point. Rookie forward Amanda Kessel of Madison, Wisc. gave Team USA a 3-0 lead when she swooped in and knocked a rebound past Wallner at 11:19.

     Two more goals by forward Monique Lamoureux of Grand Forks, N.D. and defenseman Megan Bozek of Buffalo Grove, Ill. in the second period caused the Swedes to change goaltenders from Wallner (42 saves) to Kim Martin-Hasson. The Americans took 50 shots in the first 36 minutes and led 5-0 after two periods.

     Brianna Decker of Dousman, Wisc. tallied the sixth and final American goal in the third period and shared the team scoring lead for the semi-final with Bozek, each with three points. Team USA out-shot Sweden 70-9.

     Decker said in an NBC television interview, “We got our fore-check going and moved well to the puck.”

     Sweden had beaten Team USA in a semi-final shootout during the 2006 Olympics in Italy—the only time in five Olympics that 1998 gold medalist Team USA had not reached the gold-medal game. At Vancouver in 2010, Team USA defeated Sweden 9-1 in the semi-final game.

     In Olympic competition, Team USA has now won 21 games and lost four including one in overtime, to Sweden.

     Team Canada had beaten Switzerland 5-0 with a 69-14 shooting edge in the first Olympic Group A game Feb. 8.

     Today’s game was closer because of Swiss goalie Schelling, who stopped all 22 Canadian shots in the second period and was often brilliant in blanking Canada for the final 40 minutes of action.

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