U.S. women’s hockey crushes Sweden to make final vs. Canada
Goalkeeper Shannon Szabados of Canada looks for the rebound on a blocked shot against Switzerland during the first period of the 2014 Winter Olympics women's semifinal ice hockey game at Shayba Arena, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Switzerland head coach Rene Kammerer talks to players during timeout during the first period of the 2014 Winter Olympics women's semifinal ice hockey game against Canada at Shayba Arena, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Phoebe Stanz of Switzerland (88) dives for the puck against Lauriane Rougeau of Canada during the second period of the 2014 Winter Olympics women's semifinal ice hockey game at Shayba Arena, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Meghan Agosta-Marciano of Canada, center, reacts as she slides into the net while attempting to score against Goalkeeper Florence Schelling of Switzerland during the third period of the 2014 Winter Olympics women's semifinal ice hockey game at Shayba Arena, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Megan Bozek of the United States, left, congratulates Kacey Bellamy of the United States after Bellamy scored a goal against Sweden during the first period of the 2014 Winter Olympics women's semifinal ice hockey game at Shayba Arena Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
SOCHI, Russia – The work began before the U.S. women’s hockey team reached the medal round, before it arrived in Sochi, before the roster was even selected.
Four years ago, the Americans left the Olympics with a silver medal. And Julie Chu was determined to be back.
“When that buzzer goes off and it erupted in the arena and we fell short of our goal of being the best in the world, that hurts,” the four-time Olympian said after the United States beat Sweden, 6-1, yesterday to reach the gold medal game in Sochi. “The last four years, that’s been our goal.”
Megan Bozek and Brianna Decker each had a goal and two assists, and the Americans outshot Sweden 70-9 to clinch no worse than a silver medal. The U.S. has medaled in every Winter Games since women’s hockey was added in 1998, and just once – with a loss to Sweden in the 2006 semifinals – failed to reach the Olympic championship game.
Canada, a three-time defending champion that has played in every Olympic final, will have a chance for a fourth gold in a row after a 3-1 victory over Switzerland later yesterday. Not since the inaugural tournament in Nagano have the Americans beaten Canada, losing in the championship game in 2002 and 2010 and again in the preliminary round of the Sochi Games tomorrow.
There are 11 players on the U.S. roster who played in the final in Vancouver, but Chu is the only one who was also on the team in Salt Lake City or Turin. She has two silver medals and a bronze.
“We’re going for a different color this time,” she said.
And Coach Katey Stone would like to see her get it.
“It’s about time isn’t it? It’s time,” said Stone, who was also Chu’s coach at Harvard. “Julie’s been everything to the program, she’s been a youngster, she’s been a veteran … she’s been a mother to the younger kids. Kids like that don’t come around all the time. She’s a special one. I certainly hope she gets what she wants.”
In goal, Jesse Vetter needed just eight saves for the victory.
The U.S. scored five times in 47 shots on starting goalie Valentina Wallner before she was replaced in the second period by Kim Martin Hasson. The backup was the winning goaltender when Sweden upset the Americans in Turin, and she stopped 22 of 23 shots.
“We took Valentina out because she had a busy day at work,” said assistant coach Leif Boork, whose team will face Switzerland for third place. “We wanted to make a decision for the next game, the bronze medal game.”
Anna Borgqvist scored on a deflected shot past Vetter with just under seven minutes remaining to spoil the shutout.
Alex Carpenter and Kacey Bellamy scored in a span of 66 seconds in the first period, and Amanda Kessel gave the Americans a 3-0 lead before Sweden got off its first shot. The U.S. outshot Sweden 29-1 in the first period.
“That was not the start we wanted to have,” Boork said. “We knew before that it is one of the world’s best teams and they showed that today. We tried to play for the whole game, even if we were under hard pressure from the beginning. But it’s too big of a challenge for us at the moment.”
In the later game, Natalie Spooner scored twice and Shannon Szabados stopped 21 shots to help Canada beat Switzerland, 3-1. The three-time defending gold medalists advanced to the women’s hockey final for the fifth consecutive Olympics.
Canada holds a 3-1 edge in gold medal games, and it also beat the U.S. in the round-robin of the Sochi Games on Wednesday.
Florence Schelling, who went to Northeastern University in Boston, made 45 saves for Switzerland. The Swiss will play Sweden on Thursday for the bronze medal.
Spooner scored 7:29 into the game after circling behind the net, putting a high wrist shot just beyond the reach of Schelling’s glove. She made it 2-0 on a power play less than four minutes later, and Daoust needed just 23 seconds after that to give Canada a 3-0 lead.
But Jessica Lutz scored for Switzerland 5:14 into the second period to make it a two-goal game, and Szabados needed several good saves to keep if from getting any closer.
Canada and the United States have won every Olympic women’s hockey gold medal, and all but one silver.
Belarus’s Darya Domracheva won the pursuit and individual biathlon races last week. She took the lead for the first time after four minutes and stayed ahead of the field after the first shooting. Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic took silver and Tiril Eckhoff of Norway bronze.
Russia’s winning two-man bobsled had Alexander Zubkov driving and Alexey Voevoda as the brakeman. The Swiss team of Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann took silver, and the U.S. bronze, with Steven Holcomb driving and Steven Langton as brakeman. It was the first two-man bobsled medal for the U.S. in more than a half century.
Belarus’s Anton Kushnir nailed a near-perfect landing after a “back double full-full-double full” jump – five twists packed into three head-over-heels flips while soaring 50 feet off the ramp and into the night sky.
“It was the best jump I’ve ever witnessed in person,” said 18-year-old American Mac Bohonnon, who finished fifth.
Alexei Grishin won Belarus’ first ever gold medal in Vancouver four years ago – also in the men’s aerials. Afterwards, he got his picture on a stamp back home. Yesterday, he failed to qualify in the aerials. Belarus now has five golds in Sochi. Australia’s David Morris finished 24 points behind Kushnir to win silver; China’s Jia Zongyang took the bronze.
Germany’s win in the team event ended Austria’s winning streak. It had won gold in the last two Olympics and hasn’t lost a team large hill event since the 2005 world championships. Germany’s team included Andreas Wank, Marinus Kraus, Andres Wellinger and Severin Freund. Austria took silver and Japan won the bronze.
China beat Britain, 6-5, to qualify for the Olympic semifinals in men’s curling. The loss forced Britain into a tiebreaker against Norway today for the final spot in the playoffs. Canada and Sweden advanced on Sunday. In the women’s tournament, Switzerland and Britain advanced to the semifinals, joining Canada and Sweden. Canada is the first women’s curling team to go through the round-robin matches without a loss.