Canada beats Finland, on to Olympic men's hockey semifinal
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Canada advanced to the semifinals of the Winter Olympics with a gritty 1-0 win over Finland on Wednesday night but lost starting goaltender Ben Scrivens to an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Maxim Noreau’s goal 55 seconds into the third period was enough for Canada to reach Friday’s semifinal against Germany, which shocked top-seeded Sweden 4-3 in overtime. The Russian team plays the Czech Republic in the other semifinal.
“I saw it from the bench. It had eyes,” Canada captain Chris Kelly said of the winning goal. “A fantastic (faceoff) win by (O’Dell). That’s kind of what it takes. Just one play and that’s the difference.”
Scrivens started the game, but gave way to Kevin Poulin at 4:17 of the second period after a crushing Eric O’Dell check sent Finnish player flying into the Canadian goaltender. Scrivens briefly remained in the game, but came out at the next stoppage.
Hockey Canada said in a statement that Scrivens suffered an “upper-body injury” and his availability for the semifinal wasn’t know. Scrivens has carried the bulk of Canada’s load in goal in the tournament, but Poulin played in Canada’s 4-0 win over South Korea on Sunday.
Canada is looking for a third straight Olympic gold medal, though the 2010 and 2014 titles were won with rosters stocked with NHL talent. There are no NHL players competing at the Pyeongchang Games.
Despite the high stakes, there were plenty of empty seats at the 10,000-capacity Gangneung Hockey Centre. It was a tight opening with the physical Canadians needing five minutes to get a shot on target. Finland’s Mikko Koskinen, who finished with 29 saves, had to make a big pad save to stop a deflection on Canada’s second shot.
The Canadians came out with far more purpose in the second period and Koskinen had to make an early pad save to deny an Andrew Ebbett shot. It took less than four minutes for Canada to rack up more shots than it had in the entire first period, but the game was scoreless going into the final period, setting up Noreau’s goal.
“What a battle,” said Canada defenseman Chris Lee. “I can’t believe what happened there. We had an in-game goalie change too and Poulin stepped in and played unbelievable.”
Canada will face a Germany team with a red-hot goaltender in Danny aus den Birken, who made 31 saves against Sweden He kept Germany in the game when the shots were lopsided in Sweden’s favor. Christian Ehrhoff, Marcel Noebels and Dominik Kahun scored in regulation for Germany, which went up 2-0 and 3-1 before Sweden fought back.
Canada which advanced directly to the quarterfinals by virtue of being the best second-place team, finished runner-up to the Czech Republic in Group A. The Canadian men sandwiched wins of 5-1 over Switzerland and 4-0 over South Korea 4-0 around a 3-2 shootout loss to the Czechs.
The Finns, ranked fifth among the 12 teams after the opening round, were second to Sweden in Group C after defeating Germany 5-2 and Norway 5-1 before losing 3-1 to the Swedes. They advanced to the quarterfinals by beating South Korea 5-2 in a qualification game.
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