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Espoo 2019 semi-finals: Canada falls to Finland

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Finland will have their first chance at gold, while Canada will meet Russia in the bronze medal game.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 12 Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Wow. Okay, that was a tense one for Canada and their first ever semi-final loss. USA didn’t look great in their first period against Russia but they turned in on eventually.

Finland 4 vs Canada 2

No surprises in net today. Shannon Szabados faces off against Noora Räty. Some would call this a battle of the best goalies in women’s hockey. Marie-Philip Poulin remains out, as does Sanni Hakala for Finland, who hasn’t played since the third game of the tournament.

First period

Jill Saulnier starts things off with an early chance on Räty.

Finland counters with a shot from Elisa Holopainen. Play continues end to end for a little bit.

Laura Stacey’s very active, getting pucks to the net. Another attempt has Laura Fortino and Jamie Lee Rattray in front. Rattray redirects it in and Canada is up 1-0 two and a half minutes in.

This is Rattray’s third Worlds, her first since 2016 and and the first in which she’s put up any points - the goal is her fourth. It’s nice to see her looking just as good here as she does with the Thunder.

Canada pins the Finns down in their own zone. Finland ices the puck trying to get out but it doesn’t help.

A hard shot by Blayre Turnbull in front is saved by Räty.

There’s a delayed penalty call for a while as Canada has possession. The delay ends with a shot by Stacey. Tanja Niskanen rubbed Rebecca Johnston out against the boards and goes off on a hooking call.

Canada’s power play begins with a few shots, and ends with another few, mostly hard shots on Räty looking for rebounds. Generally though the power play features total dominance of possession. Finland has no opportunity to change.

Back at even strength Petra Nieminen goes down blocking a Loren Gabel shot.

Finally Finland gets the puck out and Susanna Tapani has a chance.

Shots are 12-1 for Canada at the midway point, which is the kind of dominance you like to see.

Szabados goes behind her net to retrieve a puck which really I’d prefer she not do.

Canada turns the puck over, leading to a shot by Emma Nuutinen.

Stacey goes one on with with Räty yet again. Natalie Spooner is making her presence felt as well.

Riikka Sallinen goes to the box on a slashing call. Finland gets the puck out this time and gets some shorthanded chances. Szabados heads behind the net again and is seriously taking years off my life doing it. The power play expires with no Canadian shots on goal.

Finland’s finally looking slightly more awake but Canada keeps getting the puck back.

Ann-Sophie Bettez makes an attempt, she goes down and crashes into Räty. No call on Bettez or the player that sent her down.

Traffic in front of Szabados, Nieminen digging, Canada gets it out before she can do damage.

Laura Fortino goes to the box on a slashing call and Finland ties it. Noora Tulus feeds Jenni Hiirikoski who sends a bomb past several players, tipped by Ronja Savolainen past Szabados. 1-1.

Finland presses for more with a little over two minutes left in the period.

Blayre Turnbull goes down and stays down after a battle in the corner. She was shoved hard into the boards with no call, looks like there may have been head contact. She goes off looking very shaky.

Canada’s trying to make something happen in response, Finland ices it.

Shots were 14 to 6 in the period, Finland getting back in it in the second half.

Second period

Finland comes in and out of Canada’s zone, then draws a penalty. Brianne Jenner goes to the box on a tripping call.

Finland retreats into their own zone before dumping the puck in. There’s a battle in the corner that wastes some time, then Michelle Karvinen puts a shot on that’s saved by Szabados.

Johnston chases the puck into the Finnish zone. It comes out and then Jocelyne Larocque sends a shot in on Räty from the blue line. For some reason this results in a faceoff in Canada’s zone.

Szabados makes a save off the faceoff. Canada gets the puck out, it comes back in and there’s another time-wasting corner battle. Canada clears the puck just as Jenner gets out of the box.

Sarah Nurse is checked against the boards by Minnamari Tuominen and Canada has the advantage. The power play has barely started when Sallinen decides to bear hug Ambrose, giving Canada a 5 on 3.

Räty makes save after save, robbing Johnston in particular. Canada loses the zone a couple of times and are without possession when the second penalty expires.

Laura Stacey is whistled for goaltender interference and Finland goes ahead on a 2-1 lead. Noora Tulus feeds Jenni Hiirikoski who sends a shot through traffic that beats Szabados five-hole. Savolainen gets the secondary assist.

Spooner gets in alone, sends a shot and the rebound in on Räty. Canada’s definitely pressing here.

GABEL! She and Bettez have been clicking and they set up a play at the net with Jenner in the middle and Loren Gabel puts in a backhand with her back to the net, so she’s not even sure it’s gone in until she turns around. All tied up again at 2-2.

Spooner comes in again with multiple chances.

Venla Hovi comes in but can’t keep the puck.

Gabel tries another shot on Räty.

Tapani comes in on a two on one but Szabados is there.

Jenni Hiirikoski muscles in and puts a shot on net. The Finnish crowd is very into this game. Szabados is hanging in.

There’s a loose puck in front of Räty but she gets it before any Canadians get a stick on it.

Canada’s keeping Finland to the outside.

Emily Clark gets a shot and Spooner is there for the rebound. Räty still stopping everything.

Bettez is stopped by Räty.

Gabel comes in but is knocked down without a call.

Finland sets up again, Noora Tulus driven wide by Renata Fast.

The game has become very high energy, with play going end to end to end.

It’s Nelli Laitinen, the youngest player left in the tournament, who breaks the tie. Karvinen passes back to Laitinen at the point who goes five hole on Szabados. The goal is given to Tapani but the shot was all Laitinen. Finland is up 3-2.

Noora Räty keeps making saves. On Saulnier, on Clark, on Nurse...

Finland comes in again. Noora Tulus sends a shot off the post as Szabados dives for it. She stops a wrap attempt on the other side.

Annina Rajahuhta heads to the box after pushing Ambrose into the boards, perhaps a little revenge from the last time they met. It’s called holding.

Finland clears the puck before Canada gets an unblocked shot on Räty, and denies Canada’s first attempt at reentry.

A Fortino is shot blocked, the puck comes out and Canada’s down a goal going into the third despite doubling Finland on the shot clock 18 to 9.

Third period

Johnston starts the period off with a chance.

Jenner puts one on with Nurse in front.

Finland ices the puck trying to get out of their own zone — things are looking okay for Canada to start. We’re shown Turnbull in the stands with Poulin and Geneviève Lacasse. She’s talking and eating so at least she seems with it.

Jenni Hiirikoski has a shot blocked, and sends another shot high.

Spooner and Jenner are both denied. Räty makes a save on Johnston.

Fortino sends a hard shot in from the point that no one manages to get on net.

Canada takes a high sticking penalty and Emily Clark is sent off. They start the kill off well, Saulnier and Larocque bringing the puck into the Finnish zone. Time is wasted via a couple of board battles. Tapani tries a point shot. Another Finnish shot leads to another brief shorthanded entry by Canada.

Clark comes back on and Sabados makes another save.

Canada presses. Saulnier’s shot is saved. Mélodie Daoust tries a wraparound.

Szabados makes a glove save. She wanders behind the net again and I really might kill her.

Spooner keeps looking to make something happen.

Tapani pins Ambrose to the ice without a call. There’s half a period left.

Tulus blocks a hard shot from Brigette Lacquette and hobbles off. Lacquette has quite the slapshot, I don’t envy Tulus.

Daoust sends a puck to the net with a a couple of Canadians in front, Saulnier and Johnston beat Räty but the goal’s waved off. There’s an extremely long goal review. Hope everyone on Canada’s bench are stretching and hydrating. No goal, crowd goes wild.

Over nine minutes left. It’s hard to believe Canada can be held off the board for that long. Rod seems to believe it but we put no stock in Rod Black and his opinions.

Spooner gets a chance with traffic in front.

Finland keeps getting the puck out and forcing Canada to come back.

Johnston’s shot is blocked. Another shot saved.

Canada is up 41-18 in shots. You’d think that sheer volume would win Canada this game but Räty is on and when she’s on it has to be a very good or a very stupid shot to beat her.

6:01 left. Finland takes their timeout.

Karvinen comes in but Finland’s offside.

Finland ices it.

Nieminen harasses Larocque but can’t get the puck off her.

Another possible goal is called off. Räty kicks it in behind her but it never quite crosses the line.

Canada keeps having to bring the puck back in.

There’s a mess in the neutral zone, Canada looks like it has an opportunity, but the puck comes back to Szabados again.

Szabados is pulled with about 1:26 left.

Canada’s looking for a lane, there’s scramble in front of Räty and the puck squirts loose. Savolainen takes off with it, Spooner can’t stop her, and she gets the empty netter. Finland’s up 4-2 with 37 seconds left.

Finland plays keep away, tries for another empty net goal, Canada can’t get back in and will play for bronze for the first time ever. Shots finished at 45 to 19.

Jill Saulnier and Noora Räty are named players of the game.

The top three players of the tournament for Canada are Brianne Jenner, Sarah Nurse and Renata Fast. For Finland it’s Jenni Hiirikoski, Michelle Karvinen and Riikka Sallinen.

This loss was at least half because of Räty but after the first ten minutes of the game Canada struggled to maintain pressure on Finland. Especially with Turnbull out they’re going to have to look at staying disciplined and maintaining structure over Russia.

USA 8 vs Russia 0

Okay, deep breath. Game two.

Alex Rigsby gets the net for USA with Anna Prugova at the other end for Russia. Interestingly it’s the rookie, Valeria Merkusheva backing her up. Brianna Decker is back in the lineup after missing the third period in the quarter finals, and Hannah Brandt is also back for only her second game in the tournament. Hilary Knight plays her 51st game at a Worlds tournament, becoming the US record holder for games played at Worlds.

First period

The Americans start off with possession and it’ll be interesting to see if Russia even sees the US zone. Their first attempt a zone entry is more or less a dump in by 87 and is turned back.

Sydney Brodt gets an early shot on Prugova but is denied. That starts off a shooting gallery for USA with Prugova turning aside about five shots before there’s a pause.

Olga Sosina harasses Kacey Bellamy in the US zone.

A long shot on Prugova is caught and held.

Rigsby comes out to settle the puck behind the net.

Kendall Coyne Schofield tries to set up Cayla Barnes in front but Prugova smothers the puck.

Barnes sends a slapshot right on Prugova but she’s handling everything well so far.

A Russian player goes down getting the puck out but there’s no call. Amanda Kessel has a chance turned aside by Prugova.

Alexandra Vafina battles through US opposition to get a shot on Rigsby, who makes a shoulder save.

Another shot deflected by Rigsby.

First offensive zone faceoff for Russia.

Rod Black makes the assertion that Russia doesn’t have the same talent as the Finns. I would say the difference isn’t so much talent (except maybe in net and behind the bench) as it is veterans. Less than half this team has been around since 2015 or before.

Not the most structured looking game for either team so far.

Quick angle shot on Prugova by Kelly Pannek, the rebound comes out with half the net open and Hilary Knight is there on the other side to open the scoring 1-0 USA. The secondary assist goes to Dani Cameranesi. Knight has scored the first goal in three of USA’s six games this tournament.

Barnes shoots and the rebound goes high in the air but it lands harmlessly and play continues.

Rigsby has to make another save on Vafina. She might be trouble this game.

Alex Carpenter goes sliding into the boards and USA has its first power play. Anna Shibanova sits for tripping.

Shorthanded rush by the Russians foiled by Cayla Barnes. The American power play should look a lot more dominant than this. Prugova stops the one timer.

A point shot makes it through to Prugova. She almost doesn’t have it but settles the puck in time.

USA is well up on the shot clock and the Russians aren’t getting any extended zone time but I can’t help but think the Americans are going to have to be better against Finland.

Another save by Rigsby, an easy glove save on Fanuza Kadirova.

Bozek gets the last shot on Prugova and the period ends with USA up 1-0

Shots are 15 to 5 for the Americans. We’ve been told that they’re trying to get everyone in the game today and I’m not sure it’s working for them. They’re doing enough to beat Russia for now but in a completely meaningless game in the round robin USA was up 3-0 by this point.

Second period

Rod Black is still obsessed with the Knight-Coyne-Decker line, a line that hasn’t been used since before the 2018 Olympics.

Yelena Dergachyova tries to send it out of the zone but she can’t manage it, the puck’s taken the other way.

There’s a nice shot by Barnes on Prugova, who squeezes it.

Viktoria Kulishova carries it the other way and gets a turning shot off from the corner that almost sneaks between Rigsby and the post. Rigsby has a bit of trouble with the rebound but gets it covered.

A shot by Hannah Brandt is saved by Prugova, but the US maintains the zone, and Annie Pankowski scores on a fantastic individual effort—fighting through aggressive defending by Sosina, curling and firing a rocket from the high slot. Beautifully done. 2-0 Team USA.

Alex Carpenter feeds Kessel from the slot but Kessel can’t get a shot off.

Prugova dives on a rolling puck just outside her crease before any of the Americans can jump on that opportunity, because her defenders aren’t really helping her out by clearing that area.

Hilary Knight takes a pass from the neutral zone and charges in, utterly disregarding the defensive efforts of Liana Ganeyeva, and hits the trailing defender, Emily Pfalzer, with a perfectly placed pass. Pfalzer leans into it and blasts it past Prugova. 3-0 Team USA.

Sosina goes to the box for slashing, only compounding Team Russia’s troubles. The US powerplay is full of movement and cycling but not really getting it through to the high-danger areas. Bellamy thumps a shot off Prugova’s pads, and then sends one into her glove, causing a scuffle when Coyne Schofield follows it up and a Russian takes exception to that. A bit of bad luck, and a lot of the Russians just getting in the way, lead to a successful Russian kill.

Megan Bozek’s slapshot is a terrifying weapon, and she hammers one from the point not long after the penalty elapses. It looks like it just goes through Prugova, no tip or anything. The pass from Knight while on her knees along the boards was a great setup play. 4-0 Team USA.

The rink announcer is still announcing the Bozek goal when Kelly Pannek piles on another one, tipping a sharp-angle pass from Lee Stecklein past Prugova. 5-0 Team USA.

That triggers a goalie change for Russia. Prugova comes out, Valeria Merkusheva goes in. It’s odd to me that the Russians didn’t have veteran Nadezhda Morozova on the bench for a semifinal game instead of actual teenager Merkusheva; perhaps there was an injury we don’t know about.

Russia is just not a match for the speed and physicality of the American forwards.

Aaaaand there’s a delayed penalty call for Russia. Merkusheva has to make a save on a crease scramble before the whistle goes, and Anna Savonina goes to the box for hooking Dani Cameranesi. The US powerplay goes back to work.

Another good shot from Bellamy at the right hash marks—the Russian penalty killers might want to consider, uh, covering her there—but Merkusheva makes the save. She also makes a good save on a point-blank Decker shot when someone left Brianna goddamn Decker all alone in front, which is a quality tactic if your goal is to lose a hockey game.

Valeria Pavlova forces Rigsby to make a pad save on a shot from the slot.

Wow, a rough neutral zone turnover as Russia is trying to break out goes straight to Kelly Pannek, who weaves her way in. It doesn’t lead to anything much, and the Russians should feel grateful, because Yikes.

Hilary Knight, man. Pfalzer pays her back for the goal earlier in the period with a soft dish right in front of her at the top of the faceoff circle, and Knight does what she does best. What a shot. 6-0 Team USA.

A blocked shot by Dergachyova goes out of play and hits netting.

This is more like what we expected to see from these two teams—flashes of Russian skill here and there, but mostly American dominance.

Third Period

Cameranesi starts off the period with a great chance from the low slot after gloving down the puck and blowing through the Russian defense, although it sounds like the puck hits glass.

Lovely play by Cayla Barnes in the defensive zone to regain possession and quickly send the puck the other way. Barnes is a lot of fun to watch, it’s hard to believe she’s only 20.

Daria Teryoshkina heads to the box for holding, giving the US another crack at their power play.

Only about fifteen seconds into the player advantage, Maria Batalova dumps an American along the boards in a reckless cross-check (this is very in character for Batalova, who takes a lot of unnecessary penalties, even for a Team Russia player) and now Team USA has a 5 on 3.

Merkusheva stops a Bozek slapper but can’t quite keep it covered, and Dani Cameranesi digs it out of her pads and puts it in. It’s ruled no goal, presumably because the ref had whistled the play dead, and we go back to the shooting gallery.

Rather impressively, Team Russia does kill off the 5 on 3, and then the rest of the power play. Score aside, I haven’t been hugely impressed by the US power play, and it’s not like the Russians don’t hand out chances.

A long-range Bozek shot beats Merkusheva but hits the post, and while the Russians are able to sweep it out of the crease very quickly, there’s video review to determine whether or not the puck fully crossed the line. It’s determined that it did, and the US has officially hung a touchdown on the Russians. How American. 7-0 Team USA.

This game feels very much like a repeat of the preliminary round game between these two teams at this point. The only question is how many goals the US will manage to score before the game’s over.

Continuing the parade of frustrated Russians to the box, we have Anastasia Chistyakova called for tripping. It is kind of Russia to give the US some extra power play practice, since that’s something that they apparently need to work on.

Bozek gets another point-blank shot from in close that Merkusheva is able to save, but other than that, the US is not getting a ton going with the player advantage. It’s kind of weird.

They must have heard me type this, because with eight seconds remaining in the penalty, Hilary Knight puts a perfect feed on Kelly Pannek’s tape and she tips it past Merkusheva. Beautifully done. 8-0 Team USA.

Merkusheva makes a save and then in an effort to clear the slot, one of her defenders accidentally almost puts it in when her intended clearing pass hits a teammate and deflects towards the goal, if anyone wants to know how Team Russia is doing right now.

Yelena Dergachyova, who is small and fun to watch when her team isn’t horribly overmatched, tries to drill Scamurra through the end boards. Not a great choice. The US power play goes back to work with less than five minutes left, chasing double digits again.

Merkusheva stops Pankowski in close, and the power play elapses scoreless yet again.

Alevtina Shtaryova gets a great chance on Rigsby with less than a minute remaining, but the Russians can’t break the shutout. Team USA wins 8-0, breezing easily into the gold medal game, where they’ll face Finland. Shots were 49 for Team USA and 11 for Team Russia. Players of the game are Fanuza Kadirova for Team Russia and Hilary Knight for Team USA.

The best players of Team Russia are Nadezhda Morozova, Anna Shibanova, and Alexandra Vafina. For Team USA, it’s Kendall Coyne Schofield, Hilary Knight, and Cayla Barnes.

The bronze medal game between Canada and Russia will be tomorrow at 9:00 am, followed by the gold medal game at 1:00 pm between USA and Finland.