Saturday, February 27, 2010

U.S. trounces Finland to reach hockey final

The youthful United States men's hockey team needs one more victory from authoring a new version of Miracle on Ice.
The Americans continued their impressive and surprising run at the Vancouver Olympics with a convincing 6-1 victory over Finland in the semifinals on Friday to advance to the gold-medal final on Sunday. The only undefeated team remaining in the men's tournament steamrolled on the strength of a stunning start that saw them score six times before the game was 13 minutes old.
"I think that was one of the best games in the tournament because I got to watch most of it," said U.S. goalie Ryan Miller, whose team has outscored the opposition 22-6 in its five wins. "Hopefully, we can put that kind of performance on the ice on Sunday."
The U.S. will play the winner of the late semifinal Friday between Slovakia and Canada. If Canada prevails, it would set up a North American final, which was the case in 2002 in Salt Lake City when Canada managed a 5-2 win.
"If we play Canada, I guess the fans and everyone else wants a Canada-U.S. game and those are always fun to be part of," U.S. forward Paul Stastny said.
Stastny scored the sixth U.S. goal midway through the first period that essentially knocked the veteran-laden Finland to the bronze-medal game on Saturday. What was so shocking was that Finland had been so defensively responsible in its previous four outings.
Finland's Teemu Selanne remarked that Finland felt good about its chances against the U.S.
"You can't blame the goalie," he said. "They got a couple of good bounces. It was 2-0, 4-0, 6-0. At that point, you wish it was curling so you could just give up.
"They're not that good. They have a good team, we know that, but it's very disappointing we couldn't even compete today."
This was supposed to be a goaltender's duel between Miller and Finland’s Miikka Kiprusoff. But the Finns simply collapsed after Kiprusoff gave the puck away to U.S. forward Ryan Malone for the game's first goal, 2:04 in.
"We can't blame Miikka at all," Finland defenceman Sami Salo said. "We, as the defencemen and the forwards, didn't provide him any help. "We made a lot of mistakes and that's the bottom line."


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