Canadian Women Defeat Switzerland; Playing For Fourth Straight Gold Medal

Canada 3

Switzerland 1

For the fifth straight Winter Olympics, Team Canada will be playing for the gold medal in women’s hockey.

Natalie Spooner scored twice to propel the Canadians to a 3-1 victory over Switzerland in the second semifinal in Sochi on Monday.

Mélodie Daoust also scored, while Shannon Szabados made 21 saves for Canada, who will now play the United States for the gold medal for the fourth time in five Olympics.

Jessica Lutz scored for Switzerland, but Florence Schelling stole the show with an incredible 45-save performance to keep the Swiss in the game throughout, including 22 saves in the second period alone to put the Swiss in a position to nearly beat the Canadians to follow up on their stunning victory over the host Russians in the quarter-final.

However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Schelling as the Canadians dominated the game early.

Spooner opened the scoring just over seven minutes into the game, using her body to control puck possession before turning and firing a wrist shot over Schelling’s glove.

About three minutes later, shortly after a 5-on-3 ended, the puck came to Canadian defenceman Catherine Ward at the point. Spooner redirected Ward’s shot by Schelling for her second of the game.

Just 23 seconds later, Jennifer Wakefield won a puck battle on the goal line, and the puck squeaked loose to Daoust. She drove to the net, eventually putting the puck past Schelling into the open net for a 3-0 Canada lead, prompting the Swiss to call a timeout to settle things down.

From there, Schelling got into a zone, stopping a plethora of Canadian opportunities with a big smile on her face.

The Swiss rewarded their goaltender by getting on the board five minutes into the second on a power play. Szabados thought she had the puck covered in the Canadian net, but Switzerland’s Sara Benz dug the puck out and got Szabados out of position. The puck came out to Lutz, who buried it into the open net to cut Canada’s lead to 3-1.

Szabados wasn’t particularly busy in the first half of the game, but she was solid when needed.

Her best save came late in the second on 15-year-old Alina Muller, who picked off a Jocelyn Larocque clearing attempt and broke in alone. However, Szabados stood tall to rob Muller with a glove save on an attempted deke.

Meanwhile, Schelling was outstanding in the Swiss net, making several big saves in the middle frame.

Marie-Philip Poulin nearly made it 4-1 with less than three minutes left in the second, but Schelling was there with an outstretched glove to rob the 2010 Olympic All-Star.

Schelling followed that up with a big save on Spooner, who was in alone on her. Spooner was looking to complete her hat-trick, but Schelling kicked out a pad at the top of the crease to prevent Spooner from getting the shot off.

The Swiss fed off their goaltender’s play, coming out and playing a more aggressive game in the third period to stay competitive with the Canadians.

Canada had a great shorthanded opportunity early in the third, as Brianne Jenner and Haley Irwin went in on a 2-on-1. Jenner found Irwin alone in front of Schelling, but Irwin couldn’t convert on a deke in close.

The Canadians thought they had made it 4-1 midway through the third, but the referee ruled Meghan Agosta-Marciano pushed Schelling into the net on a breakaway.

Switzerland had opportunities to get within one late, but Szabados shut the door the rest of the way, withstanding the Swiss pressure and tenacity.

Canada’s victory sets up a rematch with the United States from their Group B round robin game, won 3-2 by Canada. The Americans, who defeated Sweden 6-1 in the other semifinal, won their only gold medal in women’s hockey in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, while the Canadians are the three-time defending champions.

Game Notes: With Spooner and Daoust scoring, Canada has now had nine different players score goals in Sochi. … Lutz’s goal in the second period snapped Szabados’ Olympic shutout streak at 225:28, dating back to the 2010 Olympics. The last goal she conceded was also against Switzerland, on Feb. 15, 2010. … Though the Swiss are playing in the bronze-medal game, they are already guaranteed their best Olympic finish in the program’s history. … Of Schelling’s 224 saves in Sochi, 109 have come in two games against Canada, have stopped 64 Canadian shots in their round robin game.

Topics: Canada, Florence Schelling, Olympics, Sochi, Switzerland

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