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Canada, United States meet again for gold in women's world hockey championship

04/03/2015 08:42 EDT | Updated 06/03/2015 05:59 EDT
MALMO, Sweden - The women's world hockey championship final pits the tested versus the rested.

Canada used up a lot more energy winning its semifinal than the United States. The Canadians beat Finland 3-0 on Friday evening after the U.S. romped 13-1 over Russia in the afternoon.

Canada and the defending champion U.S. will clash again Saturday, the 16th time in as many world championship events they've met in the final. The Canadians won the first eight but the Americans have taken five of the last seven world titles, including four of the last five.

"Every time you wake up for a gold-medal game, no matter the rest time you had, I think it's always exciting and you're going to play your heart out and with passion for sure," Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin said.

The Americans took advantage of Russia's soft goaltending for their lopsided win. The U.S. will also have a few more hours of recovery than the Canadians, who are taking the tack they have the more battled-hardened squad going into the final.

"Finland is a tough team to play against so going into (Saturday) I think we're going to be ready for the U.S. and ready for that compete level, the same compete level we had to bring (Friday)," Canadian forward Natalie Spooner said.

Canada also had a suprisingly light practice schedule once the tournament started, in part because every game starting at 4 p.m. local time didn't leave time for game-day skates.

The Canadians skated the day before Saturday's opener — a 4-2 loss to the U.S. — and didn't practise again until Thursday.

"We wanted to make sure they got a lot of rest before we got to this point," Canadian head coach Doug Derraugh said.

"I think it's good we had a tough game in some ways today so that we are prepared for tomorrow's game, which certainly is going to be tough for us."

Canada outshot Finland 40-19 but led just 1-0 after two periods. Finnish goaltender Meeri Raisanen seemed ready to shut the door on the Canadians after Poulin's power-play goal in the first period.

But momentum swung to Canada on a fatal Finnish mistake in the first minute of the third.

Raisanen was behind her net clearing the puck and put it off the skate of defender Jenni Hiirikoski standing beside her. The puck deflected to the front of the net just as Spooner arrived on the forecheck.

The Canadian made the most of the gift to give her team a 2-0 lead 25 seconds into the third.

The Toronto forward scored a prettier goal midway through the period when she fooled Finland defender Anna Kilponen with a deke, then went high on the backhand to score.

"She's a big, strong player, but she's also got great hands, which she just showed," Derraugh said.

Ann-Renee Desbiens of La Malbaie, Que., stopped 19 shots for her second shutout. This is the 20-year-old's first world championship, so Derraugh's choice of starter Saturday will be interesting.

Genevieve Lacasse of Kingston, Ont., had 30 saves in the loss to the U.S. to open the tournament. She stopped 15 shots in a 6-2 win over the Finns to cap the preliminary round.

"We'll be making that decision tonight," Derraugh said. "I guess it's good that it's going to be a tough decision."

Usually experienced in net, Canada came to this world championship with thee goalies who had never played in one before.

The Americans were without captain Meghan Duggan and defender Kacey Bellamy because of illness, but head coach Ken Klee said they "should be" in the lineup Saturday.

There wasn't a trace of sweat on the faces of acting captain Brianna Decker, who scored a hat trick, or forward Hilary Knight in their post-game interviews after beating Russia.

"Whenever you can put yourself in the best position going into a gold-medal game, that's what you try and do," Knight said. "Fortunately we had that position today.

"Extra hours of rest or sleep or recovery or whatever it may be is very important and crucial."

Finland and Russia will play for bronze Saturday. Japan avoided relegation to the world 'B' championship in 2016 with a 2-1 win over Germany. Japan will play in next year's global event in Kamloops, B.C., while the Germans drop to the second-tier tournament.

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