By Paul D. Bowker | April 13, 2019, 4:02 p.m. (ET)


The U.S. women’s ice hockey team is driving for five.

But when the U.S. plays for its fifth consecutive title at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship on Sunday in Espoo, Finland, for the first time in world championship history it won’t be playing longtime rival Canada. Instead, Team USA will face host Finland for the gold medal.

Team USA topped Russia 8-0 in Saturday’s semifinal to advance to Sunday’s gold-medal game. Finland defeated Canada 4-2 in the other semifinal.

The U.S. and Canada had faced each other in all 18 previous finals since the event began in 1990.

The U.S., which scored five goals in the second period, has won all of its six games in this year’s tournament and has not given up a goal in its last four games. Team USA began the tournament with a 6-2 win over Finland.

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Three-time Olympian Hilary Knight, who scored two goals and assisted on three in Saturday’s game, became the all-time U.S. leader in games played in the world championships by playing in her 51st game. Four-time Olympians Angela Ruggiero and Jenny Potter had played in 50. Knight also tied Cammi Granato’s record of 44 career world championship goals.

Knight is the tournament leader with seven goals and is also the points leader with 11 points (seven goals, four assists).

Megan Bozek and Kelly Pannek also scored twice Saturday. Annie Pankowski and Emily Pfalzer had the other U.S. goals.

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.