It was a lot closer than they wanted, but in the end the U.S. were more than satisfied to walk away with a 3-0 victory over Finland in the semifinals of the IIHF women’s world championships.
“Today wasn’t pretty, but we got it done,” said U.S. head coach Katey Stone.
The U.S. was definitely the better team on this day, but they faced the daunting task of beating one of the tournaments better goalies in Finland’s Noora Raty.
The U.S. outshot Finland 43-11, but struggled to find a way to solve Raty until Hilary Knight beat her on her backhand at 53:55 of the third period.
Monique Lamoureux and Brianna Decker, with an empty-net goal, also scored for the U.S. Jessie Vetter faced 11 shots.
The win allowed the U.S. to advance to the championship final on Tuesday where they will face the winner of the Canada-Russia semifinal.
Less than two minutes after Knight’s goal, Lamoureux made it 2-0 as she waited Raty out and beat her shortside.
The U.S. dominated play for the first two periods outshooting Finland 34-8, but Raty kept her team in the game with a number of big saves.
Raty needed to be at her best in the second when Finland took four consecutive penalties giving the U.S. a two-man advantage for 18 seconds and again for 51 seconds.
“We knew the longer we can keep it close the better chance we’re going to have,” said Raty. “In the end they were the better team today and they deserve to win.”
Finland finally managed to get a shot on goal at the 33-minute mark of the game and nearly scored when Michelle Karvinen made a great move around Gigi Marvin and then put a shot off the crossbar, much to the surprise of U.S. goaltender Jessie Vetter.
“I was halfway celebrating and hoping it went in,” said Karvinen. “Sometimes it doesn’t go post in, but post out and it was just one of those situations.”
With time winding down in the second Raty made a huge glove save on Knight to keep things scoreless.
“She is awesome and in my opinion she’s the best in the world,” said Karvinen of Raty’s play. “She saved us so many times in this game. I don’t think I need to say much, you just have to look at some of her saves.”
Finland will play in the bronze medal game on Tuesday.