02:30am CDT, 09/17/14

U.S. dominates Sweden, advances to women's hockey gold-medal game



By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer
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After dominating Sweden to the tune of a 6-1 final, the U.S. Olympic Women's Hockey Team is on its way to the gold-medal game at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. It will be the fourth trip to the final in the five Olympics women's hockey has been a part of.

Team USA out-shot Sweden 70-9 in the game and was near perfect from start to finish. Six different players scored goals for the U.S. as the offense was spread out. Defenseman Megan Bozek and forward Brianna Decker each had three points to pace the American attack.

Jessie Vetter didn't get much work between the pipes for Team USA, making eight saves on nine shots. Sweden's starter Valentina Wallner did all she could to keep things close as she made 42 saves on 47 shots before being yanked in favor of Kim Martin-Hasson.

It was a dominant effort throughout for Team USA, which had four days off since its disappointing preliminary-round loss to Canada. That should help boost confidence heading into a highly-anticipated gold-medal game.

The U.S. will now await the winner of the semifinal between Canada and Switzerland. In all likelihood, we'll be looking at the fourth USA-Canada final since women's hockey came to the Olympics in 1998.

LIVE BLOG

USA 6, Sweden 1 -- FINAL

9:45 a.m. -- GAME OVER Team USA earns a 6-1 win over Sweden and will advance to the gold-medal game for the fourth time in the last five Olympics. They'll await the winner of Canada-Switzerland semifinal. Gold-medal game is set for Thursday.

9:41 a.m. -- GOAL USA -- Brianna Decker's initial shot rocketed off the crossbar, but it goes off a Swedish defender's skate and into the net. So Team USA's first goal of the third period is an awfully wacky one.

9:39 a.m. -- A little bit of scrum develops in front of the Sweden net. Not much comes of it as time is winding down. Under four minutes now.

9:37 a.m. -- PENALTY SHOT STOPPED Jocelyne Lamoureux attempts the spin-o-rama on the penalty shot, but Kim Martin-Hasson makes a big pad save. Still 5-1.

9:36 a.m. -- Penalty shot coming up for Team USA as Jocelyne Lamoureux was hauled down from behind on a breakaway.

9:32 a.m. -- GOAL SWEDEN A point shot from Emma Eliasson may have taken a deflection off Anna Borgqvist and the Swedes are on the board for the first time. Sweden buzzing a bit more in the third period.

9:31 a.m. -- Jessie Vetter has her toughest test yet as Erica Uden-Johansson's wraparound attempt sqeezed through. Vetter was able to get her glove behind her and sweep the puck off the line. So close, but no goal.

9:29 a.m. -- USA not quite just going through the motions, but they aren't pushing as hard for offense in this period. Shots are not coming as fast and furious, though they hold a 7-1 advantage over the Swedes so far this period.

9:25 a.m. -- Sweden showing no quit out there. They're still trying to generate chances, but struggling to get through to the U.S. night. Only one shot on goal this period, but they keep pushing the pace and are making the U.S. work defensively.

9:19 a.m. -- U.S. doing a good job of working the offensive zone with a lot of crisp passing and looking for good shots. They're still very much in control and not showing any signs of letting up despite the score.

9:15 a.m. -- Third period underway.

9:09 a.m. -- Now would be a good time to refresh that cup of coffee. USA-Sweden will hit the ice again shortly for the third period. Team USA 20 minutes from another trip to the gold-medal game.

9:03 a.m. -- Second Period Recap:

It was much of the same in the second period as the U.S. continued its dominance of Sweden. Goals from Monique Lamoureux and Megan Bozek have the lead at 5-0. Now the U.S. women have to focus getting out of the third period healthy and not developing any bad habits With the likely scenario of playing Canada for gold on Thursday, it's important to focus on playing the way they have all along. Unfortunately, that means not letting up in a game that's already out of hand.

9 a.m. -- Second period ends with the U.S. up 5-0. Shots are 51-6.

8:54 a.m. -- The U.S. has reached 50 shots in the game with 3:59 to play in the second period. Fifty.

8:51 a.m. -- All the credit to Wallner, who now sits on the bench. She made 42 saves and really was never given much of a chance. It could be a lot worse if she didn't make some incredible stops throughout her time in net.

8:49 a.m. -- Veteran Kim Martin-Hasson will come out to replace Valentina Wallner. She was the goaltender that helped Sweden upset the U.S. in the 2006 semis. Doesn't look like history will have a chance to repeat itself, though.

GOAL USA -- Megan Bozek's blast from the top of the point finds its way past Wallner to make it 5-0. That puck had some serious zip on it.

8:46 a.m. -- Team USA successfully kills the penalty to Coyne. They allowed just one shot on Sweden's power play. Shot counter now reads 45-3.

8:43 a.m. -- Team USA killing a penalty as Kendall Coyne sits in the box for hooking.

8:41 a.m. -- Doc Emrick noting the retirement of Noora Raty, the spectacular Finland goalie. She was part of that Minnesota women's team last year that went wire-to-wire undefeated and won back-to-back national titles. Still in her prime, but it can be tough for women's hockey players to have the time to work full-time and train. She really is one of the best in the world and it's sad to see her career come to an end.

USA GOAL -- Monique Lamoureux scores on the power play for the United States after the Swedish goalie came up with several impressive saves but couldn't stop Lamoureux's shot from the slot. Shots are 42-2.

8:33 a.m. -- Kendall Coyne was just thrown to the ice and hit her head hard. USA will go back on the power play. Sure feels like the United States is about to score again. They haven't let up off the gas pedal.

8:31 a.m. --Sweden goalie Valentina Lizana-Wallner just made the save of the women's tournament stretching out with her glove hand to rob the United States of its fourth goal. Shots are 31-1 four minutes into the second period.

United States completely dominates the first period and takes a 3-0 lead to the locker room. Team looks a lot better than it did in its loss to Canada. United States goalie Jessie Vetter with a big period stopping the only Sweden shot.

Shots finish 29-1 in the first.

8:10 a.m. -- United States picks up another penalty Let's see if Sweden can get more than a shot on this power play. Shots are 28-1 now.

8:06 a.m. -- Record for most shots in a period is 34 set by the United States in Nagano during the first women's hockey olympic tournament. United States has 27 shots with 4:20 left in the first.

8:03 a.m. -- THEY DID IT! Sweden got a shot on goal.

8:01 a.m. -- Sweden comes dangerously close to getting a shot on net, but it was blocked in front. So close.

8:00 a.m. -- Sweden gets its first power play of the game as Michelle Picard gets whistled for hooking. Shots currently 26-0 U.S., so Sweden has to find a way to take advantage on a rare opportunity on the advantage.

7:57 a.m. -- GOAL USA Amanda Kessel chips a loose puck up and over Wallner to make it 3-0. It came on the tail end of back-to-back power plays. Sweden still has yet to have a shot. This one's getting out of hand.

7:51 a.m. -- USA back to the power play as Hilary Knight got tripped up. Shots now 13-0 in the game.

7:49 a.m. -- GOAL USA Some great pressure in the zone leads to a blast from Kacey Bellamy. It found a way through Wallner and gives the U.S. a 2-0 lead.

7:48 a.m. -- U.S. firmly controlling the game. Lead shots 9-0 so far in the game. Their speed and skill really giving Sweden fits.

7:46 a.m. -- GOAL USA Alex Carpenter fires one home from the slot after a great pass by Kelli Stack for a power-play goal.

7:43 a.m. -- A good shot from Anne Schleper from the point is kicked aside by Wallner. USA moving the puck aroud very well in the offensive zone.

7:39 a.m. -- Alex Carpenter gets a great chance when the puck takes a weird hop off the boards, but Wallner recovered well and stacked the pads. Hilary Knight nearly slipped one in on the wraparound shortly after.

7:37 a.m. -- Kendall Coyne and Brianna Decker get a chance in close to the net, but couldn't squeeze the puck past Valentina Wallner.

7:35 a.m. -- We're underway. USA looking to take control early with their speed.

7:30 a.m. -- Puck about to drop in Sochi. The U.S. women's team has Jessie Vetter in net. She has a 1-1 record, 2.04 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. She was also the team's primary starter at the 2010 Olympics.

7:17 a.m. -- Here's Team USA's lineup for today's semifinal:

Hilary Knight - Kelli Stack - Alex Carpenter
Kendall Coyne - Brianna Decker - Amanda Kessel
Meghan Duggan - Jocelyne Lamoureux - Monique Lamoureux
Extras: Lyndsey Fry, Julie Chu

Anne Schleper - Megan Bozek
Kacey Bellamy - Gigi Marvin
Michelle Picard - Josephine Pucci
Lee Stecklein

Jessie Vetter
Molly Schaus

The Facts

Who: United States vs. Sweden

What: First women's hockey semifinal

When: 7:30 a.m. eastern Monday on NBC Sports Network

Where: Shayba Arena, Sochi, Russia

The United States women find themselves in a similar scenario as the one they experienced in 2010. Last time around, Team USA met Sweden and trounced them 9-1 in the semifinal to reach the gold-medal game, but this matchup has one moment history the Americans will hope to avoid repeating.

At the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, the American women were in a similar scenario to the one they're in now. Taking on Sweden in the semifinal, the U.S. was stunned in a shootout. It remains the biggest upset in the history of women's hockey at the Olympics. Team USA had to settle for a shocking bronze.

Anything can happen when it's single elimination, but Sweden will be a huge underdog to the Americans. The Swedes finished second in Group B but pulled off a surprise win on Saturday knocking off rival Finland 4-2 in the quarterfinals.

The United States has been led in scoring by Hilary Knight, who has tallied five points. Amanda Kessel has four points and is a +6.

Sweden is led offensively Pemilla Winberg who also has five points in the tournament.

If Sweden stands any chance, it will need a huge performance from goalie Valentina Wallner who has a 93.8 save percentage in the tournament. She took the reins from veteran Kim Martin, who was the goaltender who stood on her head in that 2006 shootout win over the U.S.

It should at the very least be an interesting tilt, but most anticipate a USA-Canada rematch for gold on Thursday.


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