February 17, 2014 12:22 pm

Women’s hockey: Canada advances to gold-medal game

Canada celebrates after winning the game during the Women's Ice Hockey Playoffs Semifinal game 3-1 against Switzerland on day ten of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 17, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Martin Rose/Getty Images

Canada had a dominant first period on Monday against Switzerland and rode that to a 3-1 victory in the semi-final, booking their spot in the gold-medal game against the United States.

Canada was up 3-0 after the first ten minutes of the game, controlling the puck and playing a majority of time in the offensive zone.

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After that, they could not solve Switzerland’s star goaltender Florence Schelling. The Canadians also ran into major penalty trouble, giving Switzerland five power plays – one of which the Swiss capitalized on, making it 3-1 five minutes into the second period.

Natalie Spooner potted the first two goals for Team Canada, with Melodie Daoust adding the third. The team had three goals on its first 12 shots.

Switzerland got into penalty trouble early on, which didn’t bode well against the powerhouse Canadian team. Spooner’s second goal was on the power play.

Spooner’s first goal was a beautiful wrist shot that went through traffic and over the glove of Schelling. Her second goal was a tip off a Catherine Ward slap shot. Daoust drove the net hard and jammed a puck in short side, scoring her first career Olympic goal to make it 3-0.

Hayley Wickenheiser contributed, notching two assists in the first.

While the Canadians were dominant, there seemed to be confusion at the bench on multiple occasions, with Canada being called for too many skaters on the ice once, and almost a second time. Canada also found themselves offside on an inordinate amount of times.

Early in the second, the Canadians took two penalties, giving Switzerland a five-on-three advantage.

After the first penalty expired, Switzerland still had a one-skater advantage. A scramble in front of the net led to Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados being out of position. Swiss forward Jessica Lutz capitalized and slid a puck past Szabados for Switzerland’s first goal against Canada in two games.

After the early hiccup, the Canadians regained control of the game for the most part. Schelling was incredible in net for Switzerland, as she has been all tournament. She shut the door on several Canadian scoring chances, keeping her team within two goals. Szabados was great in Canada’s goal as well.

The Swiss team pushed hard in the third, generating multiple scoring chances on Szabados, who was up to the task. The Canadian team’s size and physicality proved to be slightly detrimental as they got called for a couple body checking penalties in the third, leading to Switzerland gaining momentum.

Spooner had a breakaway late in the third that could have seen her put the nail in the coffin with a goal. Schelling shut the door on her, robbing Spooner of a hat trick.

Heading into the gold-medal game, the Canadians have had an up-and-down tournament. They played their best game of the tournament by far against the United States – their gold-medal game opponent.

But the number of penalties taken against Switzerland has to be a huge concern for head coach Kevin Dineen and his staff. The Canadians can get away with that against lesser teams like Switzerland, but against the young, fast and talented Americans it will be a different story.

As for Switzerland, they will play in the bronze-medal game against Sweden, who upset Finland in their quarterfinal but were no match for the U.S.A. in the semi-final, losing 6-1.

The medal games are on Thursday, with the bronze-medal game at 7 a.m. ET / 4 a.m. PT and the gold-medal game at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT.

 

© Shaw Media, 2014

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