The matchup everyone has been waiting for is looming, but Team USA has one more game to win before a potential gold-medal confrontation with Canada.
Finland was considered a team that could potentially upset one of the tournament favorites in the preliminary round, but both the U.S. and Canada handled the Finns in the early going.
Even with the 2014 gold medal rematch pending, the U.S. won’t overlook its semifinal opponent.
“There’s no certainty other than we have one more game. That’s our guarantee,” head coach Robb Stauber told NBC Olympics. “We’ve got to do a hell of a job in order to guarantee ourselves another game, so our players are focused and I think they feel pretty good about where we’re at.”
The U.S. outshot the Finns, 42-24, in the first meeting, but at the end of 20 minutes, they were trailing 1-0.
“We’ve seen them a lot, they make it very difficult for us to come through the neutral zone with our speed,” Stauber explained. “Our thought process all along has been if we’re able to maintain that speed and that intensity for 60 minutes, it’s hard to hold the Americans off.”
Stauber’s squad has done a wonderful job generating scoring opportunities and getting pucks on net, outshooting their opponents 137-60 in the first three games. However, their nine total goals during the 2018 Winter Games do not match the amount of quality chances created.
“We haven’t scored nearly as much as we’d like, but our hope is that if we keep doing the right things and creating the opportunities that they will come,” Stauber said. “That’s clearly one of our main focuses, making sure that we give ourselves the chance to score and make it very difficult on our opponents. We’ve done that, but on the other hand, this is the Olympics and it’s extremely difficult to score, and so we just have to work every night.”
The U.S. women entered these Olympic Games with a ‘Gold or Bust’ mentality, but having to face Finland and the stout goaltending of Noora Raty one more time, Stauber believes his team is ready for the challenge of staying in the moment.
“These are Olympians. And they’ve been trained to be Olympians,” Stauber concluded. “The players have been well aware of what can happen at the Olympics and if you take your eye off the ball.”