BUDAPEST, Hungary - Canada will play for gold at the under-18 women's world hockey championship.
Team captain Lauren Wildfang scored in overtime Saturday to lift the Canadians to a 1-0 victory over Russia in the semifinals.
Canadian coach Laura Schuler was pleased with her players' poise throughout a tense game that she said was the perfect preparation for Sunday's gold-medal match.
"The Russians played absolutely outstanding, and I think that their level of play really forced us to bring our game to a new level, and I was really happy with that," Schuler said. "Obviously, being in such a tight game, for us we faced some adversity and it was good pressure to have before going into the gold-medal game, to face that kind of adversity, that kind of pressure."
The Canadians will face the winner of Saturday's other semifinal between the United States and the Czech Republic. Canada beat the Czechs 5-0 in the preliminary round.
The Canadians, who earned a bye into the semis, outshot the Russians 70-24, but couldn't put anything past Russia's netminder Valeria Tarakanova through 60 minutes of regulation.
"We had numerous, numerous chances to put the puck in the net and their goalie played outstanding," Schuler said. "For us on the bench, we knew it was just going to be a matter of time before we were able to capitalize, and just really happy with the energy on the bench overall. The kids knew it, they came off each shift with smiles on their faces, like 'Aw, we almost had it there.' I think that helped us going into overtime, just building our energy.
"I was just happy with how they responded, they embraced the challenge and they just kept believing. It was great to see."
Wildfang finally scored the winner 3:09 into overtime.
"We were all crashing the net, and I took a shot and I just got my own rebound and it trickled in," Wildfang said. "Throughout the whole game, we stuck to our systems and I think that's why we became successful today. We didn't lose sight of the goal and we didn't lose sight of our game plan."
Shea Tiley got the shutout for Canada.