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Beijing 2022 Ice Hockey: Semifinals Preview

Beijing 2022 Ice Hockey: Semifinals Preview by Zoë Hayden

After the quarterfinal round, Canada, the United States, Finland, and Switzerland find themselves in the Olympic semifinals. Making it this far means each of these teams will play for a medal in the coming days.

Team USA vs. Finland

Monday, February 14 at 8:10 AM Eastern US time

Team USA is coming to this game after a game against the Czech Republic which displayed many of their team weaknesses despite the 4-1 score line. While the Czechs only mustered 6 shots on goal through 60 minutes, they scored first (on their first shot of the game, in the second period) and held the US power play to just 1 goal on 5 attempts. The Americans faced an extremely good goaltender in Klára Peslarová as well, not to mention the resiliency and physicality of a Czech squad appearing on the Olympic stage for the first time. The devil is in the details – while the Czechs had lots of difficulty with puck possession, they got pucks to the net from strong locations when they had the opportunity. Team USA triumphed by every statistical measure possible, but the Czechs reminded everyone that the door is still open even against top teams.

Finland rolled over Japan to get here in a game that I expected to be much closer, but the Finns had all of their offensive pieces clicking and came out on top by a score of 7 to 1. Anni Keisala stopped 24 of 25 shots en route to the victory, while Nana Fujimoto faced a high shot volume (42 overall) and was pulled for Akane Konishi late in the third period who made 7 saves in the final minutes. Finland likely has a lot of their confidence back after that quarterfinal matchup, which included a hat trick from Petra Nieminen and three-point performances each from Susanna Tapani, Nelli Laitinen, and Michelle Karvinen.

While the last time these two teams met saw the US triumph over Finland 5 to 2, it was their first game of the tournament and a lot has transpired since then. I would have to expect a closer matchup this time around. Team USA has the raw talent to triumph over any team in this tournament, but their execution has been lackluster, and coach Joel Johnson has been severely limiting the ice time of young defenders Jincy Dunne and Caroline Harvey for no apparent reason. Like I said, the door is open. Finland could execute better this time around and change the script a bit.

Canada vs. Switzerland

Sunday, February 13 at 11:10 PM Eastern US time

Switzerland returns to the Olympic semifinals after falling in the quarterfinals to the Olympic Athletes from Russia back in 2018 in Pyeongchang. (They had last won bronze in Sochi in 2014, their best-ever Olympic finish.) In Beijing, their 4-2 win over the Russian Olympic Committee was a thrilling conclusion after losing 5-2 to them in round robin. A relatively even game saw the teams tied 1-1 at the end of the second period, but Alina Müller got the go-ahead goal late in the third, and then she added an empty netter for the victory. Canada, on the other hand, is coming off of an 11-0 drubbing of Team Sweden. When these teams met in round robin play, Canada had a 12-0 victory.

It's always easier said than done, but it's hard to imagine a Canadian loss here. The best team in the tournament will likely be on to the gold medal game. If there's any one player to talk about in this run by Canada, it's probably Sarah Fillier. The 21-year-old has 8 goals in 5 games (tied with teammate Brianne Jenner) and shows no sign of slowing down. Switzerland's goal here is pretty simple – don't lose 12-0 again. But Canada isn't going to make that part easy.

The bronze medal game will be contested on Wednesday February 16 at 6:30 AM Eastern US time, with the gold medal game at 11:10 PM the same day.