CALGARY — Melodie Daoust hopes the first women’s world hockey championship final of her career yields gold for Canada.
The 29-year-old from Valleyfield, Que., scored twice to lead the host country in a 4-0 semifinal win over Switzerland on Monday.
Canada meets defending champion United States for the gold medal Tuesday.
The Americans are chasing a sixth straight world title and their ninth in the last 10 world championships.
Canada last won a world title in 2012 in Burlington, Vt.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for way too long,” Daoust said.
Canada returns to the gold-medal game after falling to host Finland in a 2019 semifinal and taking bronze in Espoo.
It was the first time in the history of the tournament the Canadians didn’t reach the final.
Daoust is a two-time Olympian, but donned the Maple Leaf in a world championship for just the second time after her debut in Espoo.
“It was a long road, lots of ups and downs with injuries and really glad to be here as surrounded by this team,” Daoust said.
She leads the championship in scoring with six goals and six assists in six games ahead of linemate Natalie Spooner with four goals and five assists.
Renata Fast had a goal and an assist, Rebecca Johnston scored and Marie-Philip Poulin had two assists for host Canada, which remained unbeaten in the tournament.
Ann-Renee Desbiens posted a 10-save shutout. Andrea Braendli was a workhorse in Switzerland’s net stopping 61-of-65 shots.
“She’s a huge part (of) why it’s only four-nothing today,” Swiss captain Lara Stalder said.
The 2020 women’s championship was cancelled because of COVID-19. The 2021 tournament was rescheduled to Calgary in August when Nova Scotia called it off in May.
After the final buzzer, Daoust skated to the glass to wave to her three-year-old son Matheo. Daoust hasn’t held her son since July when she and her teammates arrived in Calgary.
“Way too long. It’s been 40 days-plus that we’ve been here in Calgary,” Daoust said. “It’s been a challenge for sure, but I’m really happy that I’m surrounded by all my friends here to pick me up every day.
“I guess it really helps when you have a goal in mind. He’s the reason why I’m here. And I want to prove (to) him that if you have a dream in mind, you want to go till the end for it. I hope he’s going to be proud of me.”
The Americans blanked Finland 3-0 earlier Monday.
Canada beat the U.S. 5-1 to cap the preliminary-round and post a 4-0 record in Pool A. Canada blanked Germany 7-0 in a quarterfinal.
The Swiss finished at the bottom of Pool A at 0-4.
A 3-2 overtime win over Russia in Saturday’s quarterfinal was Switzerland’s first victory of the tournament, and vaulted the Swiss into the final for the first time since 2012 when they won bronze.
Switzerland mustered the occasional foray into Canada’s zone Monday, but spent most of their time and energy in their own zone trying to keep the puck out of their own net.
Johnston wired a shot into the far corner for a power-play goal at 16:58 of the third period.
Canada made Switzerland pay for Sarah Forster’s glove to Emily Clark’s face after a whistle with Daoust’s power-play goal in the second period.
Poulin’s shot deflected off Daoust into the air and over Braendli at 5:20.
Daoust scored her first with a long re-direct of a Fast shot at 6:52 of the opening period.
Fast had a lot of net to work with from the slot when Brianne Jenner fed her from the wing at 5:14.
Canada blanked Switzerland 5-0 in the preliminary round and has yet to give up a goal to the Swiss in eight world championship meetings.
Finland and Switzerland will play for bronze, and Russia and Japan will meet in the fifth-place game Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2021.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press