SOCHI, Russia – The stage is almost set for yet another gold medal matchup after the U.S. women's hockey team blasted Sweden 6-1 in Monday's semifinal game. If Canada beats Switzerland as expected, the rivals will face of Thursday's championship game.
Last week, Canada defeated the USA 3-2, shifting the momentum and ending the American's four-game winning streak vs. Canada. The USA hasn't won gold since 1998, the year the sport debuted at the Winter Games. Canada has taken gold in the past three Olympics, while the Americans have gone home with two silvers (2002, 2010) and a bronze (2006).
Six different players scored for the U.S. team, as Americans outshot Sweden 70-9.
Other than the final few minutes, the game was a lopsided affair. Shayba Arena only came to life after Sweden scored its first goal at 53:04, rooting for the underdog. Nobody likes a superpower, especially not American one on Russian ice. A minute later the crowd roared again after Sweden's goaltender Kim Martin Hasson stopped a Jocelyne Lamoureux penalty shot.
The semifinal blowout isn't the best indication of the game's growth. Four years ago, at the Vancouver Olympics then International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge put women's ice hockey on notice, raising concern that the sport might be dropped from the Olympic program if more countries didn't field competitive teams.
But International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel has said the sport's Olympic future is not in doubt.