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USA women put nine past Czech Republic in world ice hockey semi-final

USA women put nine past Czech Republic in world ice hockey semi-final

Captain Hilary Knight, Amanda Kessel and Tessa Janecke each scored twice, and the United States secured their tournament-record 22nd berth in the women’s hockey world championship gold-medal game with a 9-1 rout of the Czech Republic on Saturday.

The victory sets up another potential showdown against cross-border rival Canada in the championship game on Sunday. Canada, which eked out a 3-2 overtime win over Sweden in the quarterfinals, plays Switzerland in the other semi-final later in the day.

Canada (5-0) finished atop the Group A standings following a 4-3 shootout win over the Americans on Monday.

With nine titles to Canada’s 12, the US (5-1) have never missed a gold-medal game in tournament history, and they will be seeking to reclaim the title after losing to Canada in each of the past two finals.

Second-year coach John Wroblewski’s decision to retool an aging roster so far has paid off, with a mix of veterans – Knight and Kessel – and youngsters – Janecke and Caroline Harvey – filling the scoresheet against the Czechs.

The 33-year-old Knight also added an assist to increase her Team USA-record world championship total to 98 points. The 20-year-old Harvey scored and added four assists to raise her team-leading tournament total to 13 points. The 22-year-old Janecke now has three goals and six points in her tournament debut.

Cayla Barnes had three assists while Abbey Murphey and Abby Roque also scored. Aerin Frankel stopped 14 shots to improve her tournament record to 4-1.

USA forward Amanda Kessel (28) celebrates scoring a goal against the Czech Republic with forward Hilary Knight (21) and defender Caroline Harvey (4) in the first period at CAA Center.
USA forward Amanda Kessel (28) celebrates scoring a goal against the Czech Republic with forward Hilary Knight (21) and defender Caroline Harvey (4) in the first period at CAA Center. Photograph: Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports

Adela Sapovalivova scored for the Czechs, who are making their Group A debut in the tournament after winning their first tournament bronze medal last year. This marked the second straight year the Czechs have lost to the US in the semis, following a 10-1 decision in last year’s tournament in Denmark.

Blanka Skodova stopped 15 shots and was pulled after Murphy put the Americans up 4-0 at the 8:13 mark of the second period. Katerina Zechovska allowed five goals on 26 shots.

With the US leading 1-0 after the first period, Knight scored twice in a span of 1:28 during a second period in which the Americans scored five times. Barnes set up Knight’s first goal to convert a 2-on-1 break 4:22 into the period. Knight then made it 3-0 with a power-play goal in which she tipped in Harvey’s shot from the left point.

Making her 13th world championship appearance, Knight has five goals in six tournament games, marking the eighth time she’s scored at least five. It also marks the eighth time she has posted at least nine points.

The U.S. and Canada have played for gold in 20 of the previous 21 tournaments, with the exception of 2019, when the Americans defeated Finland 3-2 in a shootout after the Finns beat Canada in the semis.

Canada is the two-time defending world champions, ending the Americans’ run of five straight titles with a 3-2 OT win over the US in 2021 in Calgary. Canada defeated the US 2-1 in the final last year in Denmark. The Canadians also are the defending Olympic champions after a 3-2 win over the Americans at the 2022 Beijing Games.

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