By Bill Brophy for WCHA.com
There will be seven former Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) players who will be leaving the 2018 Winter Olympics with bronze medals, while 23 former and current WCHA stars will compete for the gold medal in the much-anticipated Canada vs. United States game tonight.
Susanna Tapani scored a goal and added an assist to help back the goaltending of former Minnesota all-American Noora Räty as Finland edged the Olympic Athletes from Russia, 3-2, and earned a bronze medal Wednesday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Tapani's goal, just 10 seconds into the second period, gave the Finns a 2-0 lead and was set up by former North Dakota teammate Michelle Karvinen. Tapani's score also set the Olympic record for the fastest goal from the start of a period. Minnamari Tuominen, an Ohio State alumna, also added an assist in the third-place game. Räty made 20 saves in leading Finland to its third bronze medal in the six Olympic tournaments that have been held in women's hockey.
It was the second bronze medal for Karvinen, Tuominen and Räty and the first for Tapani and 2016-17 North Dakota freshman Emma Nuutinen. Former Minnesota defenseman Mira Jalosuo and backup goaltender Eveliina Suonpää of Minnesota Duluth also won their first bronze medals with Finland, which also came in third in 1998 and 2010.
Two recaps of the game are here:
Now attention turns to the game the whole tournament has been waiting for: The gold medal game between the two giants of the sport, Canada and the United States. It will be played Wednesday at 10:10 p.m. CST.
Canada, looking to win its fifth straight gold medal, has won 24-straight Olympic games since the Americans beat them in 1998 in the first Olympic gold medal game. Team USA has won the last four world championships.
Canada has won the last five games against Team USA, including a 2-1 decision earlier in the Olympics. The Americans had beaten Canada in the first three games of the rivals' pre-Olympic tour.
Here are some of the reports leading up to the much-hyped rematch:
Here is a story on how the rivalry has been built over the years:
The United States has 14 current or former WCHA players, while Canada has nine in the gold medal game.
Karvinen is currently tied for third among the leading scorers in the tournament. Switzerland's Alina Muller is the top scorer with 10 points (7 goals, 3 assists) and her teammate Christine Meier has eight (0-8). Former WCHA Player of the Tear and Minnesota Duluth alumna Lara Stalder (3 goals, 3 assists) is tied with Karvinen (3-3) with six points, one more than Team USA's Dani Cameranesi (3-2) and Finland's Tapani (2-3-5). Another UND alumna, Team USA's Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, has four points (3-1). Tuominen (1-2) finished with three points, tying her with UMD alumna Pernilla Winberg of Sweden (2-1).
Among other WCHA alumnae in the tournament, Team USA's Gigi Marvin has two goals, the United States' Hilary Knight (1-1), Meghan Duggan (0-2) and Brianna Decker (0-2) all have two points, as does Team Canada's Natalie Spooner (0-2) and Blayre Turnbull (0-2). Sweden's blueliner, Annie Svedin, an Ohio State alumna, also had two points (1-1) and is the tournament's plus-minus leader (plus 8).
Canada's Emily Clark and Sarah Nurse, Finland's Nuutinen, Sweden's Johanna Fällman, Canada's Haley Irwin and Emily Clark, and Team USA's Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Knight and Hannah Brandt have each scored one goal. Canada's Jocelyn Larocque, Brigette Lacquette and Meghan Mickelson each have an assist. Räty had three tournament victories, while Team USA's goalie Maddie Rooney has two goaltending wins. Switzerland's Alder and Ann-Renée Desbiens of Canada have each posted goaltending 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