By Josh Ferguson
Team Canada solidified a cross-border battle for gold against the United States after a 5-0 win over Finland at Canada Hockey Place Monday.
Canadian scoring sensation Meghan Agosta collected her ninth goal of the tournament in the win to break the record for most goals in a single Olympics. The 23-year-old broke Danielle Goyette’s record of eight goals set at the ’98 Games in Nagano.
Leading into this semifinal matchup, the Canadians outshot their opponents 181-34 through three games. The Finns didn’t allow any goals on six power plays, but goaltender Noora Raty must have felt like she was standing in a firing range with a big bullseye on her chest as Canada pumped 50 shots on the keeper.
Raty was easily the best player on the ice from both teams, though, and managed to make 45 saves. Her team, on the other hand, only managed 11 shots in the contest.
Cherie Piper opened the scoring 5:22 into the first when Agosta coasted around the Finnish goal before hitting Piper streaking to the goal with a cross-crease pass that she buried to take a 1-0 lead. Haley Irwin added another marker to make it a two-goal game in a first period that saw Canada outshoot the Finns 15-2.
After Tessa Bonhomme crashed the Finnish goal, Agosta buried the record-setting marker with three minutes left in the second when she fired the loose puck past Raty and Bonhomme, who was still trying to get out of the net when the puck crossed the line.
Raty, who remained under heavy-fire from the Canadians in the second, could have used the help from Bonhomme because her team had only registered four shots in the game up to that point.
Irwin collected her second goal of the game in the third and Caroline Ouellette added a shorthanded goal in the dying minutes to clinch a berth into Thursday’s gold medal game.
Shannon Szabados got the start in goal for Canada and stopped 11 shots for the shutout and the win.
With the loss, Finland will try to go home with the bronze when they faceoff against Sweden on Thursday.
As two-time defending Olympic champions, the Canadians will be feeling the pressure on home soil Thursday in the gold medal game. Canada has not lost in the Olympics since the 1998 gold medal game – a 3-1 loss to the United States.