GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - The U.S. cruised into their third straight women’s Olympic ice hockey final on Monday, shutting down Finland 5-0 in the semis with two goals by Dani Cameranesi and a shutout from goaltender Maddie Rooney.
In the kind of offensive burst U.S. coach Robb Stauber has been waiting for, the Americans, silver medalists in Sochi and Vancouver, converted on three of six powerplays. Heading into the game the U.S. had been one-for-11 on the powerplay during the tournament.
“I look at the shots on goal and we maybe had 39 tonight,” Stauber said. “The other nights we had 44, 50 etc and we didn’t score as much. Our plan coming in was to repeat the good habits that we talked about earlier in the tournament. You’re going to get rewarded.”
The Americans, showing little resemblance to the team that had to come from behind against Finland in their first meeting, went out front early in the first period.
Captain Meghan Duggan fed line mate Gigi Marvin in the slot and she one-timed it past goaltender Noora Raty.
Cameranesi intercepted an attempted clearing pass and skated uncontested in on Raty before going top shelf with a wrist shot.
The U.S. broke it open in the second period on two powerplay goals 34 seconds apart.
Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson blasted a slap shot past Raty with two seconds remaining on a two-player advantage and Hilary Knight made it 4-0, redirecting a shot from the point by Sidney Morin.
Cameranesi’s second came inside the first minute of the third period, again on the powerplay.
Amanda Kessel, sister of Pittsburg Penguins forward Phil, took a cross ice pass and fed the puck low to Hannah Brandt. She quickly got it to Cameranesi who beat Raty high on the glove side.
For a game meant to be free of body- checking, it was a very physical contest, with the biggest hit delivered on Finland defenseman Ronja Savolainen by Duggan.
As Savolainen was clearing her zone, Duggan rammed into her and sent her sprawling.
She hit the sidewall face first and rolled on to her back before being helped to the dressing-room by team mates and coaches.
No penalty was assessed and Savolainen returned for limited action in the second and third periods.
“It was an open-ice hit and you can’t body-check in women’s hockey so that should have been a penalty,” Raty said. “Obviously, the ref decided it wasn’t.”
The U.S. must await the outcome of Monday’s late game between four-times gold medalists Canada and the Olympic Athletes from Russia to see who they play in Thursday’s final.
“Tonight we beat a very good goaltender and a very good hockey team,” Stauber said. “This was really a gold medal preparation for us because they’re a darn good team.”
It is the fifth gold medal game appearance in six Olympic tournaments for the American women who won the first women’s ice hockey tournament in 1998. Canada have won all four since.
Finland proceed to the bronze medal game on Wednesday against the loser of the Canada-Russia game. The Finns have won bronze twice, in 1998 and 2010.
Reporting by Dan Burns,; editing by Ed Osmond