Canada 10, Switzerland 3
by Amy Attas
Canada came into the semi-final undefeated, allowing only five goals across their first five games. They were expected to win and they did. The game still offered hints at what's to come in Wednesday's medal matchups.
Mélodie Daoust returned to game play for the first time since suffering an injury in Canada's opening match against Switzerland. Daoust was tournament MVP at the 2018 Olympics and 2021 Worlds, so it was great to see her healthy. Her minutes were light, but she notched an assist and saw time on the powerplay.
Daoust's return bumped Jamie Lee Rattray down to thirteenth forward, but Head Coach Troy Ryan found ways to squeeze her into the action. On only her first or second shift, she scooped up a rebound and scored Canada's second goal of the game.
The offensive firehose
Canada cranked open the nozzle on their offensive firehose once again, scoring three quick goals in the first period. Switzerland head coach Colin Muller used his timeout to try and settle things down, then pulled Andrea Brändli after Canada went up 4-0. I don't think Brändli was to blame for the score, but Switzerland settled down once Saskia Maurer stepped between the pipes and made a highlight-reel post-to-post save on a Canadian 2-on-1.
Switzerland's offense broke records as well – their three goals in the 10-3 loss were the most scored by any Canadian opponent thus far in the tournament. All three came from the one-two punch of captain Lara Stalder (2G, 1A) and assistant captain Alina Muller (1G, 1A). The pair had great chemistry on the powerplay, and Stalder ripped a few punishing top-corner shots.
There's no doubt Canada can score, with notable contributions from their blue liners (defender Claire Thompson came into this game with nine points, the most by a defender in a single tournament, then added to that total with the game's opening goal and two assists). If Canada has a weakness, it's turnovers on the breakout in their own zone – something Team USA exploited with a strong forecheck in the first period of the CAN-USA preliminary game. Of course USA wasn't able to score on any of their sixteen first-period shots, and Canada came out of that game with a 4-2 win.
Switzerland will meet Finland in the Bronze medal game. When they battled in the round-robin Switzerland won 3-2, but that doesn't mean Finland can't grab it this time. I'm curious to see who Coach Muller puts in net for Switzerland, since Brändli has been his number one all tournament, but Maurer put on a good show in the semifinal. I'd still put my money on Brändli, as well as some offensive firepower from Stalder and Muller.
United States 4, Finland 1
by Melissa Burgess
If you know anything about sports, you know this: there are no guarantees.
Although the United States and Canada facing off for the gold medal in women's ice hockey in Beijing, is the predictable outcome, it wasn't really a sure thing until that final buzzer blew in USA's quarterfinal win over Finland.
Finland's program has been steadily improving over the years. They took bronze in 2018 in Pyeongchang and did the same at the 2021 World Championships. With the strength of their program, and a handful of questions on the American side, it truly could've been either team heading to the gold medal game.
Monday's quarterfinal began with a somewhat quiet first period. The Americans had the advantage with more zone time and shots on goal, but Anna Keisala stood tall in net to keep things even and scoreless. Although Alex Cavallini was much less busy, facing only six shots in the opening twenty, she did have to make a few big saves, including this one in the dying seconds:
Early in the second period, USA went on the power play for the first time with Tanja Niskanen in the box on a tripping call. Finally, this was the break they needed to open the scoring. Cayla Barnes tallied her first goal of the tournament, scoring from below the faceoff circle to the goaltender's left. Barnes picked up a quick pass from Hannah Brandt and with the goalie just enough out of position, beat her glove-side.
Hilary Knight doubled the lead late in the middle frame on a goal from the hashmarks just outside the faceoff circle to Keisala's right. Knight pounced on a big rebound, settled the puck just enough and slid it into the net.
With a goal and an assist, Knight now holds sole possession of second place all-time in U.S. women's hockey Olympic scoring. She has 26 points to date.
Hayley Scamurra then scored her first Olympic goal with under five minutes to play in regulation. Parked in front, Scamurra was able to tip a shot from Cayla Barnes in the slot & redirected it enough to beat Keisala.
Although Team USA seemed to be in a good position from there, things did get a little less comfortable when Susanna Tapani put Finland on the board. Thankfully for the Americans, Tapani's goal – which came with the goaltender pulled & extra attacker activated – was scored with just 26 seconds left in regulation.
Abby Roque notched an empty-net goal with five seconds remaining for her first Olympic goal. Alex Cavallini stopped 25 of 26 shots faced in the win, while Keisala had 38 saves on 41 shots faced in 56:12.
One point that can't be ignored is how Joel Johnson is choosing to use his players – or more accurately, not use them.
Jincy Dunne and Caroline Harvey saw no ice time in the quarterfinal matchup, leaving players like Megan Keller (27:18) and Lee Stecklein (26:47) with heavier workloads. For comparison's sake, Harvey has played 22:08 across six games, less time than Keller, Stecklein, and many others saw in a single game.
Scamurra, who now has four points, played just 5:56 in the entire game. Abbey Murphy (5:32) and Grace Zumwinkle (7:13) also saw super limited ice time in the quarterfinal.
Considering the team is already down a player in Brianna Decker, and didn't have any taxi squad options, Johnson's choices are questionable at best. If this team manages to win a gold medal, it will be in spite of his coaching, not because of it. The fact that they'll finish with at least a silver medal appears to be due in no part to his leadership, but simply to the sheer talent and skill of the players on the ice.
The bronze medal game (Switzerland vs. Finland) will be at 6:30 AM Eastern time tomorrow, February 16, followed by the gold medal game (Canada vs. United States) at 11:10 PM Eastern.