ESPOO, Finland (AP) — The United States soared into the gold-medal game at the women’s world hockey championship by routing Russia 8-0 Saturday behind two goals each by Hilary Knight and Kelly Pannek.
The undefeated Americans will be going for their fifth straight title Sunday against Finland. The host nation jolted Canada 4-2 in the other semifinal.
”We really hit our stride in the second period tonight and were able to generate a lot of offense,” U.S. coach Bob Corkum said. ”We’re one step closer to what we came here for and couldn’t be more excited.”
Goalie Alex Rigsby of the U.S. made 11 stops for her second shutout of the tournament.
Canada will face Russia for the bronze medal Sunday. Earlier in the tournament, the U.S. concluded pool play with a 10-0 romp over Russia.
The U.S. and Canada had met in all 18 previous world championship finals, dating to the first in 1990.
Finland goalie Noora Raty, playing in her hometown, made 43 saves in sending her country past the heavily favored Canadians. It was Canada’s first semifinal loss at the women’s worlds.
”We’ve been pretty confident that one day it could happen when we play a perfect game and I have a good game,” Raty said. ”So we finally scored three on Canada. That doesn’t happen too often. If you keep believing in yourself, anything can happen.”
Ronja Savolainen scored twice, including the empty-netter, to seal it with 37 seconds left. Jenni Hiirikoski and Susanna Tapani also scored for Finland.
Jamie Rattray and Loren Gabel countered for the Canadians, who beat Finland 6-1 Tuesday in the group stage. Shannon Szabados stopped 15 shots in her first loss against Finland in 18 starts.
The Finns scored their first two goals on power plays and pulled ahead 3-2 when Tapani scored with 3:42 left in the second period.