(pictured: Canada celebrates Monday after defeating Russia)
To no one’s surprise, Canada and the United States advanced to Tuesday’s gold medal game at the Women’s World Hockey Championship in Ottawa, Ontario.
In the first semi-final played on Monday, the Americans prevailed 3-0 over Finland, but not beforer receiving a scare from Finland goalie Noora Raty whose phenomenal play kept the game scoreless for almost 54 minutes before Hilary Knight of the U.S. broke the deadlock.
The second semi-final had only one-third of the drama. Thunder Bay native Haley Irwin didn’t score the icebreaker until the final minute of the third period versus Russia. But then the floodgates opened as Canada romped to an 8-1 win.
For the fifteenth consecutive gold medal game since the tournament’s inception in 1990, the same two bitter North American rivals will compete for the championship.
The ferocity of the competition is certainly not lost on Canada’s captain Hayley Wickenheiser, playing in her twelfth world championship. As the Americans search for payback having lost the gold medal agame on home soil in Burlington, Vermont last year, Wickenheiser is on high alert “We beat them in their own barn after getting blown out (9-2 in the preliminary round in 2010), and I’m sure they haven’t forgotten about that. So they want to come back hard against us, and make a statement too.”
Marie-Philip Poulin led the way with a pair of goals, while Natalie Sooner, Jennifer Wakefield, Jayna Hefford, Meghan Agosta-Marciano and Rebecca Johnston rounded out the scoring for Canada.
For Hefford, whose shorthanded marker in the second period put the host team ahead 5-0, the goal came in her 250th career international game, the first player in Canadian history to reach the milestone.
“I’m certainly very honoured to have played this long with the national team,” she said. “It hasn’t been an easy task by any means, but I’m pretty thankful at the same time – the time I’ve had with the team and all of the great experiences. I’m looking forward to more.”
The United States’ quest to spoil the party at SBP Arena will be fueled by their star forwards such as Monique Lamoureux, who had the insurance marker for the Americans on Monday with Brianna Decker adding an empty-netter. “Our biggest key to victory will be taking care of our blueline, getting pucks deep and eliminating the turnovers.” said Lamoreux. “I think that will be huge for us.
Game time is 7:30pm ET and will be broadcast live on TSN.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca
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