The preliminary round of the 4 Nations Cup wrapped up on Friday night, with Canada beating Finland 3-1 in the final game. It's no surprise that the two world powerhouses in women's hockey, Canada and the U.S., came out on top. The stage is now set for the gold-medal game, but before we get into the final, let's take a look at what unfolded this week.
After blanking Sweden 2-0 in the first game, Canada went on to beat the U.S. 3-2 in the Olympic-gold-medal rematch. With a win over Finland on Friday night, Canada improved to 3-0 on the tournament. They move on to face their arch-rivals, Team USA, and defend their 4 Nations Cup gold medal on Saturday.
Team USA started the tournament off strong with a 5-0 win over Finland. Although it looked like they were set to win their second game, Canada had other plans. They suffered their first loss, falling 3-2 to the Canadians.
The U.S. quickly rebounded on Friday with a win over Sweden. Hilary Knight had the game winner and first goal of the game. After that, Team USA wouldn't look back, cruising to a 3-0 win and earning themselves a spot in Saturday's gold-medal game.
Finland started the tournament on the wrong end of a 5-0 USA win. Despite this setback, they came back strong in the next game, beating Sweden 1-0. Don't let the low score fool you, Finland outshot Sweden 30-15 in this game. Although they finished the preliminary round with a loss to Canada, they will go into the bronze-medal game against Sweden with a better record than their opponents. This may just give them the confidence they need to leave the tournament with a medal.
There weren't too many positives for Sweden to take away from the preliminary round. They lost all three of their games, and were outscored by a total of 6-0. But the beauty of the 4 Nations Cup is that there are only four teams. So, Sweden will face Finland for bronze on Saturday afternoon.
Both Finland and Sweden failed to beat the powerhouses of this tournament. As a result, they will face off in the bronze-medal game on Saturday at 5 p.m. EST. Finland won the first game between these two teams in the preliminary round. They also managed to do something that Sweden could not, score on Canada. I give Finland the slight upper hand in this game.
In a match-up that many people predicted, and hoped for, Canada and the U.S. will face off in the gold-medal game for the seventeenth time in the history of this tournament. The U.S. came out on top last time these two teams faced each other for the 4 Nations Cup gold medal. However, Team Canada is the defending champion, and managed to beat the U.S. in the preliminary round. Like any other Canada vs. USA women's hockey game, this one is difficult to predict.
Given their tournament record, Canada might have a slight edge, but history means very little when it comes to these two teams. The U.S. is going to be looking for vengeance, and that extra motivation could be the advantage that pushes them into a win. You can catch this game on Saturday at 10 p.m. EST on TSN.
Do you have any predictions for the bronze and gold-medal games? Share them in the comments!