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Canada earns gold medal showdown with U.S., surviving Swiss goalie

Greg Wyshynski
Yahoo Sports
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SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 17: Natalie Spooner #24 of Canada and Laura Benz #21 of Switzerland fight for position in front of the net of Florence Schelling #41 of Switzerland during the Women's Ice Hockey Playoffs Semifinal game on day ten of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 17, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

SOCHI, Russia — Florence Schelling didn’t make it easy, but Canada outlasted the Swiss in an Olympic semifinal battle, 3-1, on Monday in Sochi, advancing to the gold medal game against their archrivals Team USA.

The Americans won their semifinal against Sweden, 6-1, pumping 70 shots on goal. It’s a rematch of the 2010 Olympic final that Canada won, part of their three straight gold medals in the Winter Games.

The semifinal game featured dynamic performances by Schelling, the Swiss goalie, and Shannon Szabados of Canada. The Canadians outshot the Swiss 48-22, and after giving up three first-period goals Schelling shut the door with several outstanding stops.

[Related: USA and Canada on collision course in men's hockey]

The Swiss, meanwhile, found their footing in the second period and had several chances to cut Canada’s lead. Each time, Szabados had the answer.

Natalie Spooner opened the scoring at 7:29 into the game, looping around in back of the Swiss net while Angela Frautschi chased her. Spooner circled to the slot and floated a shot over Schelling’s glove for the 1-0 lead.

After another Canadian goal was waved off because Spooner was in the crease, she struck again, deflecting a Catherine Ward point shot for the 2-0 lead on the power play.

[Photos: U.S. women's hockey team advances to gold medal game]

Canada would make it 3-0 just 23 seconds later, as Melodie Daoust put the puck off Julia Marty’s stick. It then hit Schelling’s left pad and sat in the crease, and Daoust put it home.

The Swiss broke through at 5:14 of the second, on the power play. Szabados was run into to the right of her crease by Sara Benz, interfering enough to allow Jessica Lutz to score and cut the lead to 3-1.

Then it was the Schelling versus Szabados show.

Alina Muller was stopped on a backhander by Szabados. Marie-Phillip Poulin was robbed by Schelling’s glove; she then flashed a pad to stop Spooner. Szabados made a pair of key saves on a third-period Swiss power play.

[Related: Olympian unhappy about Stanley Cup's visit to Sochi]

Canada star Meghan Agosta thought she had a goal when she crashed the net, but the officials ruled that the puck was under Schelling and entered the net because she was pushed in, at 7:30. Brianne Jenner was stopped on a clean attempt in front by Schelling. On another Swiss power play, Lutz deflected the puck only to be robbed by Szabados.

In the end, Canada controlled play and didn't allow the Swiss to pull their goalie. The buzzer sounded, and Canada had earned its shot at a four-peat.

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