After disposing of their three foes in the group stage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Canada women's hockey will take on Switzerland for a spot in the gold medal game.
Canada weren't scored on in each of their first two games in Sochi, winning those by a combined eight goals to none. One of those actually came against the Swiss, who the Canadians easily topped, 5-0 in their Olympic opener.
Switzerland, however, took an odd route to get to the semifinals. After being dominated in their opener by Canada and losing their final two group games, they still got into the quarterfinals, where they beat Russia to get here.
Let's break down the women's tournament current outlook, and everything you need to know about the upcoming semifinal showdown.
What: Women's hockey semifinal, Canada vs. Switzerland
Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome
When: Monday, Feb. 17
TV Time: Noon ET (5 p.m. GMT)
Live Stream: NBC Olympics Live Extra
There are very few powers in Olympic sports more dominant than Canada women's hockey have been since the sport was included into the Games in 1998.
The biggest disappointment for the Canadians since then was a 1998 silver medal after losing to the USA in the first ever Olympic women's hockey championship. After that, though, is when they began dominating.
In 2002, 2006 and 2010, Canada won gold. They beat the United States two of those three times, and came in as an overwhelming favorite to make it four in a row at Sochi.
Canada has validated that hype, most notably with a 3-2 win over the U.S. to close the group stage. The Canadians should end up playing Team USA in the gold medal game if each wins as favorites in the semifinal stage, so that victory bodes well.
That win by Canada also made sure a record of 16 straight years without a loss to their neighbors down south still stood, per The Score—a record that could come tumbling down if the U.S. claim gold:
Canada's win over USA on Feb. 12 allowed the Canadians to take a much-deserved five-day break by getting a bye through the quarterfinal round. That allowed them to soak in the win over the U.S., as the Canadian Olympic Twitter account highlighted:
But before Canada can focus on playing the U.S. again, they will have to dispose of a Swiss team that they handled recently but also have improved much since that game.
Switzerland battled to a 4-3 loss to Finland to end group play, a team that Canada only beat 3-0. After that, they shut out the host country of Russia in spectacular fashion, winning 2-0.
Suggesting that the Swiss will be a pushover would be premature in this game as everything is on the line, and that tends to equal the playing field on the ice for a less skilled team if they come in with the right emotion.
However, against Canada—the dominant force in the sport—that probably won't make much of a difference as the talent gap is much too large.
The Swiss have improved a lot since facing Canada in their Olympic opener. But not nearly enough to stand skate-to-skate with the world's best team for an entire game.
Caroline Ouellette is hungry to get one last gold to make it four in a row, as the 34-year-old may hang up the skates after the 2014 Games. They won't want to send her out playing in a consolation game for bronze.
Considering Switzerland lost their first three games of these Olympics, getting into the bronze medal game won't be frowned upon for the Swiss.
Canada 4, Switzerland 1
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