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US hit nine past Swiss Canadian women march on

SOCHI, Russia, Feb 10, (RTRS): The United States punched their ticket to the semi-finals of the Olympic women’s ice hockey competition with a routine 9-0 win over Switzerland on Monday. Much as they did in their opening game against Finland, the second-ranked US team dominated throughout and started to run away with it when two goals in an eight-second span of the first period made it 3-0. “It was pretty awesome to see our team came out tonight and always trying to bring the same level of play no matter who we are playing,” Amanda Kessel, who had two goals and two assists, told reporters. “We stayed to our game today and it’s huge going into the next game against Canada.” Swiss goalie Florence Schelling, who made 64 saves against Canada in an opening-game loss, had another busy night as she made 44 saves against a US team who never took their foot off the gas pedal.

The United States will now shift their focus to Wednesday’s matchup with arch-rivals Canada, which is widely expected to be a preview of the gold medal game between the two superpowers. “We have Canada on Wednesday and we’re going to have to maintain that speed the entire game,” said forward Jocelyne Lamoureux. “We’re not going to be able to take a shift off because they’ll take advantage of that, they are a good team.” By securing one of the top two spots in Group A, the US women earned a bye to the semi-finals while winless Switzerland, who face Germany in their final preliminary round game, will play a quarter-final against one of the top two teams from Group B. In an effort to make the women’s event more competitive, the world’s top-four ranked teams were placed together in Group A. But while scores have not been as lopsided as they were at the 2010 Games, the United States and Canada continue to assert their dominance.

Switzerland made a solid start to the game and even had a few scoring chances but the floodgates opened after the United States scored around the midway mark of the first period. Kessel, Monique Lamoreux and Kendall Coyne each had two goals while Brianna Decker, Hillary Knight and Alex Carpenter also scored. US goalie Molly Schaus needed to turn aside 10 shots for the shutout. Canada’s bid for a fourth consecutive women’s ice hockey Olympic gold medal remained safely on course on Monday but they took a while to subdue Finland before going on to secure a nervy 3-0 win.

After two scoreless periods that saw both teams miss a number of chances, Canada pulled in front when Meghan Agosta-Marciano ripped a shot past Finnish goalie Noora Raty on the powerplay with just over 10 minutes to play. Jayna Hefford added another goal with a dazzling deke on Raty three minutes later and Rebecca Johnston tallied finished it off with a two-on-one break. “We knew that Finland was going to come out and bring it. They are an unbelievable team, they have improved so much and we knew we needed to be patient,” Agosta-Marciano told reporters. “We didn’t get frustrated, we stuck to the game plan, we kept coming, we kept getting shots on net and sooner or later once we got that one, we got three.”

The win extended Canada’s impressive streak of never losing a game in a major ice hockey competition to any other nation than the United States. They play their neighbours in their final preliminary group game on Wednesday but, with both teams already safely assured a quarter-final bye, there is only pride, and the chance to gain a psychological edge ahead of their expected return meeting in the gold medal game, at stake. Raty, who made 40 saves in her team’s 3-1 loss to the United States on Saturday, baffled Canada’s shooters for much of the game and turned aside 39 shots in another strong showing. “We played really well for 50 minutes and then the last 10 minutes we ran into penalty trouble and that takes a lot of energy out of our players, including myself. So we kind of ran out of gas there,” she said. “We were close but is wasn’t enough. We played well but if you want to beat the US or Canada you have to play a full 60 minutes.” Finland will close out the preliminary round on Wednesday against Switzerland, with both teams moving to the quarter-finals to play the top two teams from Group B.


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