PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) Marie-Philip Poulin dashed Finland’s hopes of pulling off another upset.
Poulin had a goal and an assist in a 2-plus minute span of second period, helping Canada pull away and beat the Finns 4-0 on Thursday night in the women’s hockey world championship semifinals.
”We knew they weren’t going to give up and had to keep pressure on them,” she said. ”We had two big goals in that period to give us a 3-0 lead. We wanted the energy to keep going. We had a good start, which has been lacking the last couple of games.”
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The Canadians will face the U.S. on Friday night for gold.
Finland handed Canada a stunning setback in group play with a 4-3 win, but couldn’t come close to duplicating the result.
”We were lucky the score was as close as it was early in the game,” Finland coach Pasi Mustonen said. ”They were very motivated to have a strong start and they did.”
Unless the Finns win bronze on Friday, their coach won’t call the tournament a success.
”We have not won anything,” Mustonen said. ”We came here to win a medal and the only way we can do that is by winning Friday.”
The Canadians were in control from start to finish in the rematch. It didn’t show up on the scoreboard, though, until late in the first period when Sarah Potomak lifted a shot over Noora Raty’s blocker.
”We wanted to come out fast and that goal was huge for us to get it on the board,” said Potomak, who has been missing classes at the University of Minnesota to play in the world championship.
Canada’s Emily Clark added an empty-net goal with 4:29 left and Shannon Szabados wasn’t tested much during a 23-save shutout.
Raty finished with 31 saves for the Finns.
The Canadians will have another chance to redeem themselves against a team that beat them earlier in the tournament. Just after winning an off-ice fight for better wages, the U.S. women’s hockey team beat Canada 2-0 in the world championship opener for both teams. After the loss seemed to linger and lead to a setback to the Finns, the Canadians routed Russia to earn a spot in the semifinals.
”Every time you start with a tough start, that’s when you get stronger as a team,” Poulin said. ”That’s what we did. We went through adversity and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It’s the women’s world championship and every team, they’re here to win that gold medal.”
The Americans lost to Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Russia, but they have beaten their rivals in three straight world championship finals and that has served as motivation for Poulin and Co.
”We’re on a mission,” she said.
While the Americans’ coach, Robb Stauber, was scouting Canada at USA Hockey Arena, he was taking note of a team that looked different than it did a week ago.
”They’re champions,” Stauber said. ”They’re not a team that is going to go away.”
Follow Hockey Writer Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage