It’s been four long years, but Team USA is finally returning to the Gold Medal game after defeating Finland 5-0 in the semifinals.
The Americans were prepared for this matchup as Dani Cameranesi scored twice and Maddie Rooney pitched a shutout instead of looking ahead at the opportunity to avenge the gut-wrenching loss in 2014.
“Our process and our message has been clear all along,” captain Meghan Duggan told NBC’s Pierre McGuire after the game. “We don't take anyone lightly, we don't put ourselves ahead a couple of days. We focus on the task at hand, and that today was Finland.”
Unlike the first matchup between these two teams in the preliminary round, USA looked hungry right from the opening faceoff.
Gigi Marvin lit the lamp at 2:25 of the opening period when Duggan found her all alone in the slot for a one-timer. Amanda Pelkey also assisted on the play as USA’s fourth line set the tone with an aggressive forecheck in the opening minutes.
Later in the first, Cameranesi wired a perfectly-placed wrist shot to give USA a 2-0 lead. The first-time Olympian intercepted a pass just inside the blue line just before she snapped a wrister with 1:22 remaining.
"We put our attention on scoring in the last few practices," head coach Robb Stauber said. "We just put pucks to the net and we kept repeating it."
Joceleyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored her third of the tournament when she blasted a one-timer while the U.S. had a two-man advantage to make it 3-0 at 13:21 of the middle frame. Kelly Panek made a beautiful cross-ice to set up the play.
Hilary Knight added a goal of her own just 34 seconds later as she redirected Sidney Morin’s shot from the point. Stauber moved Knight from her traditional spot on the power play above the left face-off circle and planted her right at the top of the crease.
Cameranesi added another goal in the first when she fired a perfectly-placed wrist shot over Raty’s blocker to extend USA’s lead to 2-0.
"You train four years for this one game," Monique Lamoureux-Morando said. "This is what we worked for, the chance to win a gold medal."