By Josh Ferguson
Team USA avoided a repeat of the 2006 Olympics and solidified a shot at the gold medal with a 9-1 semifinal victory over Sweden at Canada Hockey Place on Monday.
As expected, the Americans’ speed and potent puck pursuit was just too much for the Swedes. Monique Lamoureux scored a hat trick to lead her team to the win.
Lamoureux opened the scoring 7:14 into the first when she busted around a prone Swedish defender before walking across the goal and burying it between the wickets of ‘tender Kim Martin.
Sweden needed to stay out of the penalty box in this game if they wanted any chance of advancing, but Emma Eliasson was called for bodychecking just 52 seconds after the Americans opened the scoring. Team USA wasted little time on the ensuing power play and attacked the Swedish net before Meghan Duggan buried a loose puck to make it 2-0 going into the intermission.
Angela Ruggiero and Caitlin Cahow scored in the early minutes of the middle frame to extend the Americans’ lead to four goals.
Sweden finally solved American goalie Jessie Vetter on the power play when Pernilla Winberg made a beautiful play by deflecting a low point shot up into the air before swatting it past Vetter. Although it was a gorgeous goal, it was the only one Sweden collected in the game.
After Karen Thatcher made it 5-1 before the end of the second, the Americans steamrolled the Swedes in the third on singles from Kerry Weiland and Kelli Stack and two more from Lamoureux to give her the hat trick and a 9-1 American final.
Vetter wasn’t tested much in the game and stopped 11 of the 12 shots she faced. At the other end, Martin didn’t get much help from her defensemen and was lit up for nine goals on 46 shots.
The Americans went 3-for-5 with the man advantage, while Sweden went 1-for-4 on the power play.
With the loss, Sweden will still have a shot to medal in a battle for bronze on Thursday afternoon. Team USA will go for their first gold medal since 1998 later that day.
By Josh Ferguson