By Dan Burns
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) – The U.S. cruised into third straight gold medal game appearance in the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament on Monday, shutting down Finland 5-0 in semi-finals with help from a pair of goals by Dani Cameranesi and a shutout from goalkeeper Maddie Rooney.
In the kind of offensive burst that U.S. coach Robb Stauber has been waiting for, the Americans, silver medalists in Sochi and Vancouver, converted on three power plays and outshot the Finns by a three-to-one margin.
The Americans went out front early in the first period. Their captain Meghan Duggan carried the puck behind the Finland net and fed line mate Gigi Marvin in the slot and she one-timed it past goaltender Noora Raty.
Cameranesi added to the lead late in the period. She intercepted an attempted clearing pass by Susanna Tapani in the Finnish zone and skated uncontested in on Raty and went top shelf with a wrist shot.
The U.S. broke it open in the second period on a pair of powerplay goals 34 seconds apart.
On the first of the two Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson blasted a slap shot past Raty off a feed from Kelly Pannek with two seconds remaining on a two-player advantage. Then Hilary Knight made it 4-0, redirecting a shot from the point by Sidney Morin.
Cameranesi’s second came inside the first minute of the third period, again on the powerplay. Amanda Kessel, sister of Pittsburg Penguins forward Phil, took a cross ice pass and fed the puck low to Hannah Brandt by the left goal post. Brandt quickly got it to Cameranesi who beat Raty high on the glove side.
The U.S. must now await the outcome of Monday night’s game between four-time gold medalists Canada and the Olympic Athletes from Russia to see who they play in Thursday’s final.
It is the fifth gold medal game appearance in six Olympic tournaments for the American women. Women’s ice hockey was introduced as an Olympic event in Nagano, Japan, in 1998, and the U.S. won that first one, but Canada has won all four since.
(Reporting By Dan Burns; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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