April 02, 2016 - 8:53 AM
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Finland earned a semifinal date with Canada at the women's world hockey championship after a 5-0 quarter-final blanking of the Czech Republic on Friday.
Russia defeated Sweden 4-1 in the day's other quarter-final to also advance to tournament's final four. The Russians will take on defending champion United States and the Finns get the host country in Sunday's semifinals.
The semifinal winners meet for gold Monday at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, B.C.
The U.S. topped Pool A at 3-0 and Canada was second at 2-1 to earn byes to the semifinals and the day off Friday. Canada concluded the preliminary round Thursday with a 6-1 win over Finland, which went 1-2.
Michelle Karvinen led Finland against the Czechs with a pair of power-play goals. Rakika Valila scored shorthanded, and University of Manitoba winger Venla Hovi and Tanja Niskanen also scored for the 2015 bronze medallists.
Meeri Raisanen earned the eight-save shutout for a light night. Finland's top goalie had posted a 49-save performance in a 2-1 loss to the U.S. in the preliminary round. Czech goalie Klara Peslarova stopped 39 shots.
"We have a lot of self-confidence," Finland coach Pasi Mustonen said. "The Czechs have played a good tournament. We met them in an exhibition game. They were good in that game, but they had a shortage of energy (today).
"Meeri had an easy game today, so it won't hurt. I can promise you she'll play against Canada."
Olga Sosina paced the Russians with two goals, including an empty-netter, and a pair of assists against the Swedes. Tatyana Burina and Valeria Pavlova also scored with goaltender Nadezhda Morozova stopping 26 shots for the win.
Johanna Olofsson replied for the Swedes, who got 22 saves from goalie Sara Grahn.
Russia went 0-3 in Pool A. The Swedes topped Pool B with three wins ahead of the Czech Republic at 2-1.
The Czechs were the surprise of the tournament. They had earned promotion from the 'B' world championship for just the second time in the 17-year history of the tournament and beat Switzerland and Japan en route to a quarter-final berth.
The Swiss defeated Japan 3-1 in the first game of a best-of-three relegation series Friday.
In the current tournament format that's been in place since 2012, the top four countries in the world are seeded in Pool A and fifth through eighth in Pool B.
The top two teams in 'A' earn byes to the semifinals. The bottom two meet the top two seeds from Pool B in the quarter-finals.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016