By Craig Bohnert | April 03, 2016, 10:43 p.m. (ET)
Members of the U.S. women's ice hockey team celebrate winning their semifinal over Russia at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship on April 3, 2016 in Kamloops, British Columbia.


The United States women’s ice hockey team defeated Russia 9-0 Sunday evening in semifinal play at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, British Columbia. With the win, the Americans earned the opportunity to defend the title they have held since 2013.

Russia advanced to the semifinals by defeating Sweden 4-1 Friday evening and faced the U.S. for the second time in four days. The United States was an 8-0 victor in the preliminary contest between the two on Thursday, and it seemed the Americans were determined to match that total in the first period Sunday.

“Our goal today was to get up on them early and try not to over-tax ourselves, to set ourselves up for a successful game tomorrow,” said Jocelyne Lamoureux, who scored two goals and had an assist in a balanced assault on the Russian side. “We were moving the puck really well and had goals from all four lines. Rigs (goalkeeper Alex Rigsby) had a shutout, but it wasn’t an easy shutout. She stepped up and made some big saves early.”

Rigsby recorded her second win of the tournament as Russia took 17 shots against the 40 attempted by the U.S.

Two-time Olympic silver medalist Kelli Stack opened the scoring 6:59 into the contest off assists from Olympic teammate Monique Lamoureux and Annie Pankowski. Stack’s shot was the seventh by the U.S. in the early going, against only one by the Russian side.

Jocelyne Lamoureux picked up her second goal of the tournament 25 seconds later, and the rout was on. Megan Bozek found the net when her shot deflected on a Russian defender at 10:31 for a 3-0 margin, which was increased when team captain Hilary Knight notched her tournament-leading sixth goal at 11:20.

The Russians swapped goalkeepers at the 14:12 mark, turning to Nadezhda Morozova for the second time in as many meetings with the U.S. Morozova was able to hold back the rising U.S. tide for just over five minutes before conceding a goal to captain Meghan Duggan with 16 seconds left in the period, giving the United States a 5-0 lead at the first intermission.

The player of the game in a prelims meeting with Russia at the 2015 worlds, Jocelyne Lamoureux made a bid for the honor this time around with her second goal of the night, pushing the score to 6-0 with a four-on-four goal at 25:01. Brianna Decker then gave the U.S. a power play goal for a 7-0 score at 37:36. Stack scored her second goal of the game on a power play just before the end of the period for an 8-0 American lead at the second intermission.

Knight tallied her seventh goal of the 2016 worlds 1:23 into the third period as the U.S. closed in on a double-digit advantage, but had to settle for the 9-0 final score. Knight ended the game with four points on two goals and two assists. Her nine points lead the tournament and set up the possibility of her third tournament scoring title, honors she won in 2011 and 2015.

If history is any indication, the United States will face Canada in Monday evening’s final. The two teams have faced off in each of the 16 previous championship games, with Canada holding a 10-6 advantage in those meetings; however, the United States has won five of the last six and six of the last eight gold medals. The title game is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET and can be seen live on NHL Network.

“Our focus the last couple of years has been to focus on ourselves,” Jocelyne Lamoureux said when asked about the possible meeting with Canada yet again in the championship game. “We know every team in this tournament at this point. There’s not a huge turnover with players each year, so we know what to expect as far as systems. If we can play well individually and collectively I think we set ourselves up for a successful game.”

PyeongChang 2018 Qualifiers Set

The tournament quarterfinals determined the first five teams to qualify for the women’s ice hockey tournament at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The U.S., Canada, Finland, Sweden and Russia all earned enough points thus far at the world championships to secure a top-five position in the world ranking and punch their tickets to PyeongChang.

The world ranking is comprised of results from the past three world championships and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Host country Korea and two other nations will join those five countries at the Games, Feb. 9-25, 2018.