With a berth in tomorrow’s gold medal game at stake, Team USA and Team Finland found themselves face-to-face yet again. The last time we were blessed with the Women’s World Championships (2019) the Finns thought they had won gold (goal disallowed in overtime) but the Americans snatched it from them.
After beating Finland 3-0 (39-10 SoG) in the preliminary round, Team USA did it again in the semis by the same score. Sure they have had their ups and downs in the current tournament, but they find themselves right where they wanted to be - one win away from capturing another gold medal, which would be their sixth consecutive. If they are going to do so they will likely have to beat Canada - who will play in the second semifinal against Switzerland, in Canada - which is no easy feat.
Team USA basically did what they wanted, when they wanted against Team Finland throughout the afternoon. Even when the Finns had a player (or two) advantage, the Americans were racing down the ice for another scoring chance. Credit to the Finns for not giving up, but they were playing catch-up all game.
After a goalless opening period in which the Americans held a 15-4 shot advantage, it didn’t take them long to finally get a puck past Anni Keisala. On their 17th shot of the game, it was Alex Carpenter who finally scored the game’s first goal, her third of this tournament at 3:23. Positioned perfectly in front of the net, while battling with an opponent Carpenter was able to deflect Lee Stecklein’s point shot past Keisala. That ended up being the game-winning goal.
The one-goal lead stood for about 12 minutes until Abbey Murphy collected a long pass from Megan Keller, slipped past a Finnish defender, and used some shimmy-shake moves to deke Keisala just enough to slip the puck under her and over the goal line. Captain Kendall Coyne Schofield finished off the scoring with an empty netter in the final minutes of the game.
After playing in the third period of Team USA’s quarterfinal win against Japan, it was Nicole Hensley who got the start between the pipes for the Stars and Stripes. She wasn’t tested much throughout the game, but when she was she made some dazzling saves - none prettier than the right leg pad kick save with about five minutes left in the opening period. The defense in front of her was mostly airtight, especially during the Finns’ power play opportunities. Team USA has yet to give up a power-play goal in the tournament (16/16) and they will need that same type of performance in the gold medal game.
Goals scored by USA: Alex Carpenter (EV), Abbey Murphy (EV), Kendall Coyne Schofield (EN)
It’s a shame that Finland wasn’t able to get a goal early in the game to put some fear into Team USA in this semifinal, but they have nothing to hang their heads about. Anni Keisala was fantastic, stupendous, admirable, and a warrior in the goal for the Finns. She was constantly under siege and constantly cool as can be in the crease. The way they blocked shots to nullify USA power plays and keep themselves alive in this game was very respectable.
what are they talking about, wrong answers only: pic.twitter.com/sTaivuHy0u— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) August 30, 2021
Expect the Finns to come out and be determined to take home the bronze medal in their next game against the loser of Canada-Switzerland. They are a rising power and this is just another step on the path to where they want to be. Sometimes you have to lose to win in the long run.
Goals scored by Finland: n/a
TIG’s Players of the Game
These are not the same as the IIHF’s Players of the Game. This honor is based on performance and also vibes.
Finland: Anni Keisala
USA: Nicole Hensley