Canada beat Finland 4-1 on Tuesday at the Pyeongchang Olympics, and they have their eye on the next match: against their rivals, the U.S.
With two wins and a 9-1 edge in goals under their belt at the Olympics so far, the Canadian women are happy with how things are going.
“We’ve started something really good here. And we’re looking forward to continue on this journey and this mission that we’re on,” forward Meghan Agosta said Tuesday.
With both North American teams having booked their ticket to the semifinals – the Americans’ 5-0 win over the Russian entry in the late Pool A game ensured that – the final preliminary-round game between the two women’s hockey heavyweights Thursday will be an interesting appetizer before their expected Olympic final showdown.
The top two in Pool A earn byes to the semifinals. The bottom two play quarterfinals against the top two teams in Pool B.
The Canada-U.S. winner will play the A4/B1 victor while the loser takes on the A3/B2 winner in the semifinals.
Canada coach Laura Schuler says her team’s approach against the Americans on Thursday won’t change no matter the playoff-round scenario.
“Our goal, every single time we play, is to be better,” said Schuler. “We want to grow from (the 5-0 win over) OAR (Olympic Athletes from Russia) to Finland. We want to grow from Finland into the U.S. game.
“The one great thing about our girls is we’re never satisfied where we’re at. We’re happy with where we’re at but we’re never satisfied. We always want to be better.”
Agosta and Melodie Daoust each had a goal and an assist Tuesday. Marie-Philip Poulin and Jillian Saulnier also scored as some of the Canadian men’s team watched from the upper tier of the arena.
Riikka Valila, Finland’s 44-year-old veteran, became the oldest woman to score a goal in either the Olympics or women’s world championships at 7:17 of the third period. She stuffed in her own rebound off an athletic Shannon Szabados save following a Canadian defensive letdown.
“I do like where our team’s at,” said Schuler. “I thought tonight we had a real strong first and second period. Finland obviously played us really hard in the third period. I think we might have got ahead of ourselves a little bit, maybe thinking too much offensively instead of playing a sound defensive game.
“Because Finland’s a great team and they can generate a lot of offence too. So the importance of us making sure that we’re staying connected and playing defensive hockey first before heading down the other end.”
Outshot 32-23 by Canada, the Finns had their chances. Rosa Lindstedt hit the goalpost in the first period and Szabados stopped Susanna Tapani on a breakaway in the third.
Japan and Switzerland have already qualified for the quarterfinals out of Pool B.
The Canadian women are after a fifth straight Olympic title. The Finns, who lost 3-1 to the U.S. in its opener, are two-time bronze medallists.
Meaghan Mikkelson, a 33-year-old defenceman and three-time Olympian from St. Albert, Alta., marked her 100th international appearance for Canada.
© 2018 The Canadian Press