By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
The two North American giants that have dominated women's hockey since its inception will once again meet for the gold medal at the Winter Olympics. The next revival of Canada vs. the United States, arguably the best rivalry in women's sports, will be Wednesday at 10:10 p.m. CST in the gold medal game of the 2018 Games.
Once again the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), which has served as a feeder program to both Olympic teams while dominating the college game, had former stars that were key players in the United States' and Canada's semifinal victories Monday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
There are 37 current and former WCHA athletes competing in the 2018 Games and 30 of them will play for a medal.
Former Minnesota star Dani Cameranesi scored twice and added an assist, while Minnesota Duluth goalie Maddie Rooney had a 14-save shutout in the Americans' 5-0 victory over Finland. Another ex-Gopher, Gigi Marvin, along with former Wisconsin all-American Hilary Knight and North Dakota alumna Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, also added goals. Team USA scored three power-play goals and outshot the Finns, 38-14.
Two recaps of the Americans' semifinal win are here:
Canada struggled early, but scored three third-period goals and beat the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) 5-0 in the other semifinal Monday. Emily Clark, who has eligibility remaining at Wisconsin, had one of the goals in the third period outburst for Team Canada. Former Ohio State standout Natalie Spooner and Wisconsin alumna Blayre Turnbull had assists for the Canadians, who outshot OAR 49-19. Shannon Szabados got the shutout for Team Canada, which will be trying to win its fifth-straight gold medal.
Here are two recaps of the Team Canada semifinal victory:
Canada has won the last five games against Team USA, the four-time world champions who beat Canada in the first three games of the rivals' pre-Olympic tour.
Finland will play OAR in the bronze medal game at 1:40 a.m. (CST) Wednesday
There are two games on the women's schedule Tuesday in the classification round. Sweden will play Korea (tonight at 9:10 p.m. CST) in the seventh-eighth place game. Sweden beat the host country 8-0 earlier in the tournament. Sarah Murray, a former athlete at Minnesota Duluth, is the coach of the historic Korean team.
In the fifth-place game, Switzerland, who had a bronze medal at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, will play Japan, which had never won an Olympic game before coming to Korea and now is on a two-game winning streak, in the fifth-place game which will begin at 1:40 a.m. Tuesday CST. The Swiss beat Japan 3-1 earlier in the tournament.
Encouraged by the growth of the game and the competitive games in Pyeongchang, the International Olympic Committee announced Monday that the women's ice hockey field will expand to 10 teams at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. The story is here:
Switzerland's Alina Muller is the top scorer in the tournament with 10 points (7 goals, 3 assists) and her teammate Christine Meier has eight (0-8). Former WCHA Player of the Year and Minnesota Duluth forward Lara Stalder (3 goals, 3 assists) is tied for third in Olympic scoring with six points, one more than Cameranesi (3-2) and former North Dakota forward Michelle Karvinen of Finland (3 goals, 2 assists). Lamoureux-Davidson has four points (3-1), while UMD alumna Pernilla Winberg of Sweden has three points (2-1).
Among other WCHA alumnae in the tournament, Marvin has two goals, the United States' Meghan Duggan and Brianna Decker each have two points with two assists, as does Turnbull and Spooner. Finland's Minnamari Tuominen also has two points (1-1).
Canada's Clark and Sarah Nurse, Finland's Susanna Tapani and Emma Nuutinen, Sweden's Johanna Fällman, Canada's Haley Irwin and Clark, and Team USA's Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Knight and Hannah Brandt have each scored one goal. Canada's Jocelyn Larocque and Brigette Lacquette, USA's Knight and Sweden's Annie Svedin all have an assist to their credit. Rooney and Finland's Noora Räty have two victories in tournament play, while Switzerland's Janine Alder and Ann-Renée Desbiens of Canada have each posted shutout victories.
Team USA includes 14 former and current WCHA players. Team Canada includes nine former and current WCHA players while Team Finland has seven, Team Sweden features five WCHA alumnae and Team Switzerland has two players with WCHA ties.
Here is the breakdown of WCHA players on the rosters.
* -- denotes that player has eligibility remaining
Goaltenders (2): Alex Rigsby, Wisconsin; *Maddie Rooney, Minnesota Duluth
Defense (4): Monique Lamoureux-Morando, North Dakota; Gigi Marvin, Minnesota; Lee Stecklein, Minnesota; Sidney Morin, Minnesota Duluth
Forwards (8): Hannah Brandt, Minnesota; Dani Cameranesi, Minnesota; Brianna Decker, Wisconsin; Meghan Duggan, Wisconsin; Amanda Kessel, Minnesota Hilary Knight, Wisconsin; Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, North Dakota; *Kelly Pannek, Minnesota
Goaltender (1): Ann-Renée Desbiens, Wisconsin
Defense (3): Brigette Lacquette, Minnesota Duluth; Jocelyne Larocque, Minnesota Duluth; Meaghan Mikkelson, Wisconsin
Forwards (5): *Emily Clark, Wisconsin; Haley Irwin, Minnesota Duluth; Sarah Nurse, Wisconsin; Natalie Spooner, Ohio State; Blayre Turnbull, Wisconsin
Goalie (2): Noora Räty, Minnesota; Eveliina Suonpää, Minnesota Duluth
Defense (1): Mira Jalosuo, Minnesota
Forwards (4): Michelle Karvinen, North Dakota; Susanna Tapani, North Dakota; Emma Nuutinen, North Dakota; Minnamari Tuominen, Ohio State
Defense (3): Johanna Fallman, North Dakota; Emilia Andersson Ramboldt, Minnesota State; Annie Svedin, Ohio State
Forwards (2): Maria Lindh, Minnesota Duluth; Pernilla Winberg, Minnesota Duluth
Goalie (1): *Janine Alder, St. Cloud State
Forwards (1): Lara Stalder, Minnesota Duluth