Final day of Group A preliminary action, starting off with the big one, Canada vs USA. If anyone was wondering where Women’s Hockey Wednesday went, you’re looking at it. (There are only so many hours in the day. Links will be back after the Olympics.)

Canada vs USA 2-1

Geneviève Lacasse gets her first start of the tournament, quite the assignment. Shannon Szabados is on the bench in case of trouble. It’s Natalie Spooner’s turn to receive the golden helmet as she skates in her 100th game of international competition. Maddie Rooney is in net for USA with Alex Rigsby as backup.

The broadcast starts with a tribute to Canadian Olympic hockey voiced by Alan Hawco. Footage from every Olympics (and for women, pictures from before) is included. It’s quite something. Hopefully it’s available online somewhere.

First period

First shot on goal goes to Canada, Emily Clark and the rookie line get a chance on the first shift.

The top line comes on against their American counterparts, who get the puck into Canada’s zone. Mélodie Daoust loses an edge but keeps the puck away from USA briefly before an extended board battle.

Amanda Kessel and Jillian Saulnier collide, but the only call is offside.

Spooner’s centring pass gets away from her centre, Blayre Turnbull but they get it back into the US zone.

Amanda Pelkey puts a shot wide on Lacasse.

Hilary Knight tries to enter alone and Rougeau pokes it away.

Kendall Coyne chips a shot through the crease that hops over Lacasse but continues through instead of in.

Canada has a terrible change, allowing Hilary Knight to go one on one with her former Boston Blades teammate, Lacasse. Lacasse stops her cold.

Turnover by Turnbull leads to an opportunity right in front of Lacasse. Canada needs to get it out of their own zone. It’s fortunate that Lacasse has lots of experience with a high shot count (cf Boston Blades 2015-16 season).

Emily Pfalzer sends a puck right onto Brigette Lacquette’s stick and she fires a bomb in but misses wide.

Jocelyne Larocque ices the puck as Meghan Agosta was going off and missed the pass. Canada’s not as organized as I’d like.

Agosta gets right in close to Rooney and there’s a bunch of players trying to jam the puck in. The Lamoureux twins take exception to this but the officials settle things down without sending anyone off.

Oof, Gigi Marvin collides with the ref, who goes down backwards protecting her head.  That did not look particularly accidental, but no call.

Meghan Agosta gets called for an illegal hit against the boards. The US power play is certainly active, with fast passes and a number of shots, but they allow a three on two shorthanded. Only results in a soft shot for Canada but not a great look for the States. Sarah Nurse gets a second shorthanded opportunity. Shot is better but result is the same, no love.

Even strength brings Lacasse twisting around trying to freeze a puck that nobody can see.    And yet, I have confidence that she can handle it and she proves me right.

Kendall Coyne is annoyingly speedy. News at 11.

Agosta fires off one of the better shots for Canada but Rooney gets a glove on it no problem.

Marie-Philip Poulin sends in a pretty wrister that Rooney sees the whole way.

Goodness, nobody in this game has any respect for my blood pressure. Fast and frantic.

Battle in the crease leaves Daoust and Poulin stuck in the blue paint while Brigitte Lacquette’s shot goes in, so it’s no goal - the whistle was actually blown before the puck went in.

Oh good the Canadians have decided that the six defenders they brought to the Olympics are not sufficient and stuck Haley Irwin on the back end. This is fine. Not at all something that could have been planned for by bringing fewer than 14 forwards.

Poulin gets another opportunity but no dice.

Laura Stacey goes sprawling in the US zone and Lee Stecklein heads to the box for the Americans. Kendall Coyne gets a shorthanded chance but she doesn’t really put her all into the shot.

Poulin and Rebecca Johnston are doing work on the power play. Laura Fortino nearly manages to tip a shot in but it goes wide. The period ends before the penalty does.

US is up on shots 14-12 but they were up 12-7 at one point, so Canada’s getting their act together.

Second period

Canadian power play doesn’t look particularly inspired, but they don’t have much time left.  Back at even strength they look better but Knight gets a worrying opportunity nonetheless.

Wakefield and Spooner get an opportunity but can’t connect on the pass.  Play is going end to end without pause here and the US is getting more shots in.

Team USA ices the puck so everyone gets a moment to breathe.

Agosta looks to have an opportunity but she encounters a pair of Americans and goes down between them.

Soft shot on Lacasse but she decides to stop play, at least partly because there’s an American bearing down on her on the other side. Jocelyne Larocque has that handled but it was a good call.

Coyne and Mikkelson in a foot race that Coyne wins in the Canadian zone but can’t get a shot off.

Duelling chants in the stands. That or it’s in Korean, I can’t tell which team has the edge in crowd enthusiasm.

Fortino tips a puck out so we have a faceoff at centre ice.

Poulin goes down spinning and Megan Keller goes off for the trip. Canada gets a nice chance immediately on the power play but Rooney keeps the puck out. Second chance results in a bit of a pileup at net.

Lacquette lets off another hard shot - I wish her shooting was as accurate as it is hard. Shorthanded chance for the Americans but Lacasse isn’t bothered.

Puck comes back into the American end and Meghan Agosta scores with 10 seconds left in the power play on a pass from Natalie Spooner. First point in this tournament for Spooner. Brianne Jenner gets the secondary assist. With her 17th Olympic goal, Agosta is now one back from Hayley Wickenheiser for the record in Olympic career goals.  1-0 Canada

Monique Lamoureux comes right in but Lacasse keeps it out, and then stops another without her stick. Jocelyne Lamoureux follows up with what looks like a sure thing but hits the post. It takes a terrifyingly long time for someone to get Lacasse a new stick. Meanwhile, Canada gets the puck out.

Spooner gets the puck and powers it up the ice. Sarah Nurse gets a stick on a bouncing puck but can’t control it. There’s an errant stick fouling things up for everyone in the US zone. Things have somehow gotten faster.

Canada gets a little hemmed in their own zone and end up blocking more than one shot. Clock says shots are currently 10-3 for the USA. I think it’s demonstrative but maybe a little low in terms of Canadian shots.

Knight quite audibly hits a post.

Clark and Nurse try to combine again but while they connect eventually it’s not quite going to plan.

Nurse comes back in and sends a shot on net high with Laura Stacey in front and that’s the first Olympic goal for Sarah Nurse. 2-0 Canada, assist to Jocelyne Larocque.

We come back from commercial and there’s basically a fight inside the Canadian net. Lacasse loses track of the puck and a number of Canadian players come in to help her out while a few Americans come in to do the opposite. Once everyone is out of the crease, the US asks for a penalty shot, with the argument that a Canadian skater covered the puck with her hand.

Jocelyne Lamoureux takes the shot but Lacasse is not having it. Not only does she stop the shot, she chirps at J Lam afterwards. (Is there bad blood specifically between Lacasse and the Americans? Oh, you betcha.)

Meghan Agosta goes off for roughing shortly after so the Americans are back on the power play. Couple of exciting chances for the Americans and Rougeau helps Lacasse out. Turnbull gets it out but loses an edge.

Brianna Decker hits a post and Lacasse goes backwards trying to smother the puck. It’s actually still loose but the officials lose sight of it, so the whistle is blown.

Agosta comes out of the box but it doesn’t immediately help and there’s another battle in the crease.

23 seconds left in the period and the Americans ice the puck. Canada takes advantage to get a couple of dangerous shots on Rooney. Team USA gets the puck out but can’t get another shot before the horn goes.

Shots are 18-6 for the  US. Canada might be winning but it would be nice if they hit the US net.

Third period

Maddie Rooney goes for a walk early on but the US keep the puck.

Kendall Coyne scores for the US, getting a pass from Brianna Decker. She takes the puck all the way in, down the middle of four Canadians and going five-hole on Lacasse. 2-1 Canada.

The Decker line gets another chance but Jennifer Wakefield breaks that up.

Pelkey gets a quick shot and Lacasse gets a pad on it.

Bunch of interceptions in both directions, no shots.

The Canadians are not getting very deep into the US zone but the US are racking up more opportunities.

Knight comes in offside, giving everyone (me included) a moment to breathe.

Sarah Nurse takes a pass from Lacquette but goes in offside.

Saulnier and Johnston combine for a  chance and we’ve finally got some sustained zone time by Canada.

Knight and Decker get in close on Lacasse but she stops it.

Still 12:07 to go in the third. Dani Cameranesi gets a shot on Lacasse. Poulin tries to get the puck out of the zone but it takes an overly complicated team effort to accomplish the feat.

Rebecca Johnston takes ownership of the puck and dances around trying to get a lane. She ends up fanning on the shot and the puck comes out of the US zone again.

Spooner gets a hold of the puck in Canada’s zone and does her Natalie Spooner thing which involves heading all the way in, around the US net. She throws the puck out front to Haley Irwin, who puts it in. The call on the ice is goal but it’s reviewed for a kicking motion. Cassie Campbell-Pascall believes it’s a redirection. The ruling is a kick, so the score stays 2-1.

Jenner and Johnston create some havoc in the US zone. Jillian Saulnier keeps the puck in and gets it back to Johnston in front. No goal, but Canada draws a penalty. Hilary Knight is called for tripping.

Keller gets the puck out and Canada has to re-set. Poulin fires a hard shot in but Rooney stops it and doesn’t allow a rebound for the player in front. Another shot, another save by Rooney.

Puck comes out again and Fortino re-sets. Canada gets the puck deep but can’t get a shot. Knight comes back but Canada keeps control for a little longer before eventually being called offside.

5:24 left in the period and Johnston brings the puck back in. Jenner flips the puck up over the US net from behind and comes very close to banking it in off Rooney.

Dani Cameranesi gets another opportunity but Lacasse sees it all the way.

Icing against Canada.

Pfalzer puts a shot on goal with traffic in front and Lacasse is there.

Agosta brings the puck out but ends up offside.

Brianna Decker is called for a crosscheck on Jocelyne Larocque as she enters the Canadian zone and Canada is back on the power play with less than 3:30 left. Poulin is checked and the puck comes out.

Poulin takes down Coyne in the neutral zone and she gets called for interference so it’s 4 on 4 in the Canadian zone.  Fortino ices the puck in an attempt to get it out.

Spooner gets in deep for Jenner. Kessel gets a shot in and Hannah Brandt takes Meaghan Mikkelson into the post, but comes off the worse for it.

The US have a 40 second power play and the crowd seems behind them although again the competing chants muddy the sound a bit. Long board battle in the Canadian zone and then a mess at the net. Rooney is out and Canada tries for the empty net.  The US get it back in for the final seconds and Lacasse does everything to keep the puck out.

The game ends with another fight in the Canadian net after a last-second shot by the Americans. and frankly if this doesn’t end with a suspension for somebody that affects the semi-finals I’ll be shocked.

The final play is reviewed to see if the Americans scored (they didn’t, they shoved Lacasse into the net)  or if the whistle went before the horn and there’s still a few seconds to go.  It’s ruled no goal, the game is finally over.

Penalties were issued at the end of the game: 2 minutes for roughing to Poulin and 2+2 to Monique Lamoureux, also for roughing. I’m not clear on whether that means they’re automatically out of their respective next games, but we’ll find out shortly.

Final shots are 45-23 for the Americans, final score 2-1. Canada wins group A.

Finland vs. Russia 5-1

Noora Räty starts in goal for Finland, as expected. All three Russian goalies have seen game time already this tournament, but coach Alexei Chistyakov goes with Nadezhda Morozova, who turned in a very solid performance in relief against the US.

First Period

The game starts off with a lot of back-and-forth play, Finland getting most of the possession at the beginning. Russia’s first shot came courtesy of Lyudmila Belyakova, a try from the top of the crease that Räty gloved easily.

It looks like Russia’s backed off the same kind of intense swarm defense they used against the US, which makes sense—while the Finns have some good forwards, their lineup comes nowhere near to Team USA’s in either skill or speed. Russia can afford to play a more relaxed, offensive system.

And they’re getting chances, too! Olga Sosina and Valeria Pavlova have a nice two on two rush that Räty nevertheless handles.

The first penalty of the game is on the Finns for too many players on the ice after a sloppy line change, and Pasi Mustonen is not happy. There’s some conflict about who Finland wants in the penalty box—they eventually settle on Mira Jalosuo to sit and feel two minutes of shame.

A scary moment for Finland at the beginning of the penalty; Dergachyova attempts to deflect a shot from Pirogova in front of the net, and goes sprawling through the crease instead. After that, Finland does a great job killing off the penalty—they don’t let the Russians get set up for the rest of the power play. They escape a dumb penalty unscathed.

A long pass by Hiirikoski out of Finland’s zone is collected by Venla Hovi, who gets a nice shot off that Morozova is able to save. On the same shift, two Finnish players crash Morozova’s crease, trying to poke the puck through her pads. Finland and Russia have seen a lot of each other—they were both Group A teams at the last World Championships—so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some bad blood boil over here.

A bad giveaway in the Finnish zone leads to a scoring opportunity for Russia, Olga Sosina picking off a pass by Rosa Lindstedt. Räty handles it, but if you keep giving a player like Sosina opportunities like that, she’s going to put one of them in.

A stretch pass to Yekaterina Smolina leads to another shot on Räty. Soon after that, another Russian attempt to spring a breakaway by air-mailing the puck down the length of the ice is missed by the intended forward and leads to an icing. They’ve been trying those long stretch passes a lot, and consequently have iced the puck a lot, but it’s working a good chunk of the time.

Jenni Hiirikoski, who’s been the Finns’ best skater so far (unsurprising) tries a nice move through the slot for a shot in a moment of “screw this, I’m doing it myself.” Morozova has to sprawl out as Riikka Välilä tries to hammer in the rebound. That’s Finland’s best chance yet.

That stretch pass works again, hitting Yelena Dergachyova perfectly, but Räty doesn’t bite on her move and makes the save on a nice backhand shot.

There’s another Finnish turnover off a bad pass, forced by Diana Kaneyeva. Russia is definitely managing more offensive pressure in this game, and it’s nice to see what this offense full of children is capable of when not simultaneously trying to handle Canada or the US.

Liana Ganeyeva takes a shot and Räty isn’t able to handle the rebound cleanly, but no Russian is close enough to capitalize.

Belyakova takes a roughing penalty, getting her arm up and knocking down Annina Rajahuhta (I think I might’ve learned a Finnish curse from reading Rajahuhta’s lips). The Finns are able to immediately set up on the cycle, and after some smooth, patient passing, it’s Michelle Karvinen who’s able to one-touch a phenomenal shot past Morozova from the top of the faceoff circle.

Räty, apparently bored, decides to go almost all the way into the corner to swat at a puck with her stick even as the Russians are closing in. Never say that Noora Räty doesn’t make hockey games exciting.

With just over twenty seconds left, Russia takes another penalty, just to kill any momentum they might have had left. Liana Ganeyeva hooks a Finn behind Morozova’s net, dragging her to the ice, and the Finns are back on the power play. They aren’t able to create much in the last twenty seconds, and the period ends 1-0, Finland.

Second Period

Finland starts the second with about a minute and a half of power play time, but they only need twenty seconds. They get in, get set up, and a gorgeous little pass from Emma Nuutinen below the goal line is tapped right in by Karvinen, who’s standing right at Morozova’s doorstep.

A Finnish rush nearly makes it 3-0 from a shot by 6, but she fires it just wide. The Finns are finding their feet offensively at even strength now.

Russia looked like it might have a good chance, but Pavlova’s attempt at a drop pass went right to the stick of a Finnish defender. The time to get cute with your passes is probably not while down 2-0 and facing one of the best goalies in the world, but hey, I’m not an Olympian.

Yekaterina Nikolayeva takes Russia’s third penalty of the game, a hooking call on Nuutinen. Nikolayeva has also mastered the Marie-Philip Poulin “put your stickblade over the penalty box camera to hide your shame” move, and I’m happy to see that catching on. Poulin is a women’s hockey trailblazer in multiple senses.

The Russian penalty killers really have no way of handling the Finnish cycle on the power play. Morozova has to make several strong saves before the Russians are able to clear it with only thirty seconds left, and then the Finns immediately set back up. For the first time this game, the Russians manage to kill off a penalty, but it’s mostly luck and Morozova.

The broadcast mentions that it’s been eleven minutes without a shot from the Russian team, which tracks with the eye test. Those promising flashes of offense from the first period have faded for now.

Sosina, who’s been the Russians’ best forward so far, carries the puck into the Finnish zone and looks like she might get something going until the play is whistled for offsides. The transparent frustration on her face is understandable.

A strong shot for Susanna Tapani bounces off Morozova’s pads. Finland is able to keep on the pressure, Karvinen looking for her hat trick until the play is whistled dead and the faceoff is brought out of the zone for unclear reasons.

Fantastic chance for Russia at the other end—Pavlova is able to bat a puck out of the air in front of Räty, catching her by surprise, but can’t get her stick on it once it’s down to put it in the open net. Not long after that, Räty has to make a save on a Russian player from close to one of her posts. The brief flurry of offense results in a tripping call on Finland, Jalosuo sweeping her stick and knocking Alevtina Shtaryova’s legs out from under her. Shtaryova headed off in visible pain (she did manage to complete her intended pass, which Dergachyova couldn’t convert on); hopefully she just had the wind knocked out of her.

The Russian power play gets a decent chances, but they have a lot of trouble holding the puck in. Tapani is sprung for a really nice shorthanded attempt that Morozova saves, but it wastes plenty of time off the Russian penalty. Finland kills it off.

Venla Hovi puts a nice shot on Morozova, but none of her teammates are able to take advantage of the rebound. The Russian defense is just so easily flummoxed. Whenever the Finns get set up and start passing the puck around, anything resembling structure seems to fall apart.

Fantastic pass by Hiirikoski finds Sanni Hakala right in the low slot, and I’m genuinely surprised Morozova was able to save that. She’s been really good so far.

A good chance at the other end for Russia, with Räty unable to freeze a shot from Anna Shokhina. Diana Kanayeva comes in to try and grab the loose puck, but Räty basically throws herself down on top of it and turtles.

Oh my goodness, Riikka Välilä. A great defensive play by Jalosuo (I think) in the Russian zone forces a turnover. Välilä collects the loose puck and makes one of the nicest moves I’ve seen this tournament, navigating past Angelina Goncharenko and patiently waiting for Morozova to bite before backhanding the puck in. The oldest, and coolest, player in the tournament makes it 3-0 for Finland in the final minute of the second period.

Third Period

A long shot from Hiirikoski finally breaks up the back-and-forth that started this period

There’s a great play by Sosina to tip a point-to-point pass by Lindstedt and send the puck the other way on a breakaway. Räty makes the save, because of course she does. Sometimes, her goaltending seems unfair.

Belyakova gets a shot off after taking advantage of some uncharacteristic confusion in the Finnish D. She recovers her own rebound along the boards, and threads a cross-ice pass to Anna Shokhina. Räty comes out to play it aggressively, but it’s maybe too aggressively, because Shokhina lines up her shot and does not miss, giving Russia their first goal of the tournament. It’s 3-1.

Fanuza Kadirova carries the puck in, but it’s easily sticked away by a defender.

A shot by Pavlova off the rush is saved by Räty, and then after Finland clears the zone, she brings it right back in and fires it wide. Pavlova’s been very noticeable this game, along with team captain Sosina. Shokhina’s goal seems to have rejuvenated Russia a bit, like they’re all remembering scoring really is a thing that they are capable of doing after being blanked for eight straight periods.

At the other end, Tapani has a fantastic chance, and Välilä almost puts in her rebound. That line of Tapani, Karvinen, and Välilä is really, really good.

Morozova calmly gloves a shot from Saila Saari.

Pavlova’s centering attempt goes nowhere, and it’s taken the other way by Finland. An attempt to clear the Russian zone is bodied down by Välilä, but before the Finns can get anything going Russia takes a penalty. It’s a body-checking call along the boards on Diana Kanayeva, and the Finnish power play goes back to work.

This starts out as a better penalty kill than we’ve seen from Russia so far, but it turns out that doesn’t matter. Finland doesn’t need two minutes of consistent pressure to convert, all they need is a point shot from Minnamari Tuominen that finds its way through traffic and past Morozova. If I was Alexei Chistyakov (to be clear: I am not), I would have my players doing nothing but penalty killing drills from now until their quarterfinal game against the Swiss.

Just to remind everyone the game isn’t over yet, Belyakova cuts in and snaps a hard shot on Räty right from the slot. Belyakova’s also made an impression this game—she basically created Russia’s lone goal herself, snipe from Shokhina aside.

Another nifty goal from a Finn, this time eighteen-year-old Petra Nieminen capitalizing on another unfortunate turnover. She dances through the slot, mesmerizes the Russian defense, and slides the puck between Morozova’s pad and the near post. It’s a pretty nice first Olympic goal, and she makes the score 5-1 for Finland.

Morozova makes a save on a shot from the blue line by Hiirikoski. It’s odd to praise the performance of a goalie who’s let in five goals, I know, but three of those were shorthanded. She’s acquitted herself well here.

Despite a push by Tapani and Välilä in the dying seconds, the final score is 5-1, Finland. Russia’s penalty kill and inconsistent offense were their undoing; they will face Group B winner Switzerland in the quarterfinals, while the Finns will play Sweden.