SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Not once in the five Olympics since women’s hockey was added to the Winter Games has Canada failed to reach the final.
They’ve got three gold medals and one silver so far. All that’s left in these Winter Games is yet another game against the U.S. to determine which medal they’ll bring home from Sochi.
The unbeaten Canadians clinched a spot in the Olympic championship game on Monday for the fifth straight time, beating Switzerland 3-1 in the semifinals. Natalie Spooner scored twice and Shannon Szabados stopped 21 shots to help the three-time defending gold medalists claim their Olympic birthright.
“We feel like we’ve prepared all year for this game,” Spooner said.
The U.S. beat Sweden 6-1 earlier in the day to reach the gold medal game, which it has not won since the sport’s Olympic debut in Nagano in 1998. Canada and the United States have won every gold medal and all but one silver in the sport’s Olympic history, and they’ve met in the final of every world championship since the inaugural event in 1990.
Canada beat the U.S. in the round-robin of the Sochi Games on Wednesday — the Americans’ only loss of the tournament. Canada and the United States also played seven times in the run-up to the Olympics, with the Americans holding a 4-3 edge.
“We’ve played a lot of great games against them,” Spooner said. “It’s going to be another one of those in the final.”
Melodie Daoust also scored for Canada, and five-time Winter Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser had a pair of assists to extend her Olympic career points record.
Florence Schelling, who went to Northeastern University in Boston, made 45 saves for Switzerland in what was the closest game against Canada in Swiss Olympic history. The Swiss will play Sweden on Thursday for the bronze medal.
“I think for us, it was a great game,” said Swiss coach Rene Kammerer, who described himself as “happy to be disappointed.”
“Months ago, if we lose to Canada just 3-1, it would be a great game for us,” he said. “I’m disappointed to lose. But, hey, it’s Canada, one of the best teams in the world, and we know it.”
Spooner scored 7:29 into the game after circling behind the net, putting a high wrist shot just beyond the reach of Schelling’s glove. She made it 2-0 on a power play less than four minutes later, and Daoust needed just 23 seconds after that to give Canada a 3-0 lead.
Jessica Lutz scored for Switzerland 5:14 into the second period to make it a two-goal game, and Szabados needed several good saves to keep if from getting any closer.