U.S. blanks Finland to advance to women’s world championship final

Hilary Knight, right, of the United States, tries for a lose puck as Finland's goalie Meeri Raisanen looks on during third period IIHF Women's World Championship hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

CALGARY — The United States is a win away from a sixth straight women’s world hockey championship.

Alex Carpenter, Abbey Murphy and Kendall Coyne Schofield, with an empty-net goal, scored for the U.S. in a 3-0 semifinal win Monday over Finland

American goaltender Nicole Hensley posted a 14-save shutout. Finnish counterpart Anni Keisala stopped 31 of 33 shots in the loss.

The U.S. will face the winner of Monday’s later semifinal between Canada and Switzerland.

“This team is special,” Murphy said. “It’s been a heck of a road, but we’re here and we deserve it. It’s going to be a ton of fun.”

The U.S. has won eight of the last nine world titles. The Americans edged the host Finns 2-1 in a shootout in the 2019 final in Espoo.

The 2020 championship was cancelled because of COVID-19. This year’s tournament was rescheduled to August in Calgary when Nova Scotia called the championship off in May.

“This is what we have been working toward for the past two years now, to be able to get back to the gold-medal game and have an opportunity to win another gold medal,” U.S. defender Megan Keller said.

After falling 5-1 to Canada to conclude the preliminary round, the United States thumped Japan 10-2 in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. finished second in Pool A at 3-1 ahead of Finland at 2-2.

The Finns, who will play for bronze Tuesday, got by the Czech Republic 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

With Keisala out of Finland’s net for an extra attacker, Coyne Schofield scored into the empty net at 17:08 of the third period.

Down two goals with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, Finland also pulled Keisala during a power-play for two extra attackers, but didn’t generate a goal from it.

“The key point is get the puck to the net. The U.S. was doing a really good job blocking every shot,” Finland captain Jenni Hiirikoski said. “We need to be a little smarter there to get those pucks to the net.”

The U.S. led 2-0 and outshot the Finns 25-7 heading into the third period.

Murphy drove in from the wing and tucked the puck under Keisala to score at 15:17 of the second. Carpenter re-directed a Lee Stecklein shot from the blue-line by Keisala at 10:55.

“The U.S. won the game in the second period,” Finland coach Pasi Mustonen said. “They were better there.

“This team needs time to play the second periods in the right way in order to be able to compete with the North Americans, but we are coming.”

Keisala held the Finns in the game, stopping all 15 shots she saw in the first period.

Her teammates didn’t get a shot on net during two minutes of a five-on-three early in the period, but generated a couple scoring chances later in the period.

“When get a five-on-three, we usually are extremely good. Nothing went right in that situation,” Mustonen said.

Susanna Tapani put the puck off the post with five minutes remaining. Elisa Holopainin shot her own rebound just wide of the far corner of the U.S. net during a power-play.

Russia and Japan will play for fifth place Tuesday with a berth in Pool A in the next world championship at stake.

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