Women's ice hockey provided another exhilarating day of action on Monday, as the competition's favorites—the United States and Canada—took the ice for Group A.
The United States continued its dominance against Switzerland, but Canada was given all it could handle against Finland.
Once the dust settled, both teams improved to 2-0. It appears as though we are in for a treat, as the United States will take on Canada in a clash of the titans on Wednesday.
Let's take a closer look at the day's events and look at the current standings as the 2014 Olympics in Sochi continue to unfold.
Switzerland 0-9 United States
Team USA went on a scoring frenzy early in this contest. According to USAHockey.com, the team broke an Olympic record by scoring three goals within 55 seconds of each other in the first period. The team also set a personal record by scoring its fastest five goals—in a span of 6:22—in an Olympic contest.
Six different players found the back of the net:
Not only was the offense on point, but the defense was as well. Team USA goaltender Molly Schaus recorded 10 saves on her way to a shutout.
Seventeen players from Team USA finished with a positive plus-minus on the day, led by Anne Schleper, Kendall Coyne and Amanda Kessel at plus-four. On the flip side, all 18 Switzerland skaters with had a negative plus-minus.
Switzerland's goaltender, Florence Schelling, had her work cut out for her. Even though she allowed nine goals, she was responsible for 44 saves as the United States poured it on with 53 shots on goal.
Florence Schelling, who starts in goal against the U.S. today, is the only woman ever to play in the in the Swiss men's third-highest league— Jerry Sullivan (@TBNSully) February 10, 2014
Team USA looks as poised and polished as ever. It will take on Canada on Wednesday—a matchup that is sure to hold the attention of a large audience around the globe.
After finishing with a silver medal in Salt Lake City, a bronze in Turin and another silver in Vancouver, it appears that Team USA looks primed to capture its first gold medal since 1998.
Finland 0-3 Canada
Canada has been the most dominant Olympic women's hockey team in history. After finishing with a silver medal in Nagano in 1998, it rattled off three straight gold medals in 2002 in Salt Lake City, 2006 in Torino and again in 2010 in Vancouver.
Despite its dominance over the years, Team Canada was given all it could handle against Finland on Monday. Although the final score indicated a decisive 3-0 win for Canada, it was in a tight 0-0 match for most of the contest.
It wasn't until the 49th minute of the game that Canada was able to find the back of the net for the first time. From there, the team piled it on, scoring two more goals in the period:
Both goaltenders put on fantastic performances. Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados pitched a shutout by recording 14 saves. Finland goaltender Noora Raty allowed three goals, but she was solid overall, as she recorded a total of 39 saves and didn't receive much help offensively from her team.
Noora Raty has 75 saves in ~110 minutes of 2014 Olympic hockey so far.— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) February 10, 2014
Who wins Wednesday's big game?
Even though Canada had a bit of a scare in the early goings of this contest, the team once again proved why it is one of the most dominant in the sport. Canada did what all good teams do when faced with a pressure situation—it regrouped and came out victorious.
The Canadians are also boosted by the strong play of Hayley Wickenheiser, of whom coach Kevin Dineen was especially praiseworthy leading up to the matchup with Finland, per The Canadian Press via Toronto Star:
"She’s got ‘It,’" he said. "I don’t know what ‘It’ is, but whatever makes someone extremely successful in their chosen field, she’s got. She’s just the real deal.”
Canada can now use its momentum from the third period of Monday's contest to propel the team into Wednesday's game against the United States with a hot hand. The Canadians will certainly need all of their confidence for the impending matchup, as the United States dropped nine goals earlier in the day.
One thing is for certain: Fans are in for a matchup of the ages when Canada and the United States face off on Wednesday.
Updated Women's Ice Hockey Standings: Group A
After decisive victories by the United States and Canada on Monday, the two powerhouses remain unbeaten. Earning three points for each win, both teams are tied atop the standings with six points in the competition.
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