SOCHI, Russia —
“I think this one is the real deal,” he said. “You always say, ‘Oh, they don’t like each other.’ I don’t think that. I think there’s a mutual respect there. Sometimes to be really good, you have to have a foil.”
Finland’s Jenni Hiirikoski scored her second goal of the game with 2:22 left in overtime to help the 2010 bronze medalists escape with a 4-3 victory over Switzerland earlier Wednesday. The Finns earned the No. 3 seed in the Olympic playoffs, and they will play the loser of the round-robin finale between Russia and Sweden, with the other facing Switzerland.
“It’s getting to be the fun part now,” said Michelle Karvinen, who also scored twice for Finland. “I’ve been looking forward to getting to the real part of the tournament.”
Hilary Knight also scored and Vetter stopped 28 shots for the United States, which also had secured a spot in the semis already. Charline Labonte made 25 saves for Canada, which had already earned a bye into the semifinals and now will take the No. 1 seed into the playoffs.
If they both win, they would meet again in the final.
“There’s always plenty on the line” against the Americans, Wickenheiser said. “Whether there’s a gold medal or not, it feels like a gold-medal game.”
It’s the fifth time the teams have met in the Olympics, but the first since women’s hockey was added to the Winter Games in 1998 that they have played in the preliminary round. The Americans beat Canada twice that year — including the gold medal game — but it’s been Canada ever since, at least in the Olympics.
In addition to leading their southern neighbors 3-1 in Olympic gold medals, Canada has 10 world championships to five for the United States. (No other country has won even one.)