Canada 5 Finland 0
VANCOUVER — Canada is a win away from another gold in Olympic women’s hockey.
The two-time defending champions advanced to the final at the Vancouver Games with a 5-0 semifinal win over Finland on Monday.
Canada and the U.S. meet Thursday for gold. The American women beat Canada in the last two world championship finals and in the 1998 Olympics, when women’s hockey made its debut at the Winter Games.
The defending champions got a pair of goals from Haley Irwin of Thunder Bay, Ont., while Toronto’s Cherie Piper, Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., and Montreal’s Caroline Ouellette added singles. Jayna Hefford of Kingston, Ont., had two assists.
The crowd at Canada Hockey Place broke into a spontaneous rendition of “O Canada” with just over three minutes left to play.
Edmonton goaltender Shannon Szabados stopped 11 shots for a shutout in her second start of the tournament. Finland’s Noora Raty, who plays for the University of Minnesota, was pelted with 50 shots and kept her country in the game with 45 saves.
With her ninth goal of the tournament, Agosta broke Danielle Goyette’s record for goals in a single Olympics, set in 1998.
The U.S. defeated Sweden 9-1 in an earlier semifinal.
It was the third straight Olympic semifinal meeting between Canada and Finland. The Finns have never beaten Canada.
Finland sacrifices almost all their offence for defence when they face Canada. They attempt to impede Canada’s speed with a hard forecheck and high trap and then try to score on their rare opportunities. But they rarely penetrated Canada’s zone and didn’t get a shot on goal until 16:25 of the first.
But their pressure on the defensive side of the puck kept the score respectable and made Canada work to get up ice.
Head coach Melody Davidson could be heard yelling “come back” on a couple of occasions for more support on her team’s breakouts.