Hockey

Canada advances to women's world hockey final

Canada's national women's hockey team continued its dominance at the world championships in Harbin, China, on Wednesday, defeating Finland 4-2 to clinch a berth in the finals.

Vaillancourt scores twice in 4-2 defeat of Finland

Canada's national women's hockey team continued its dominance at the world championships in Harbin, China, on Wednesday, defeating Finland 4-2 to clinch a berth in the finals.

Sarah Vaillancourt notched two power-play goals in a 38-second span and Hayley Wickenheiser posted three assists in the win.

Kim St. Pierre faced only 12 shots, while Finnish goaltender Noora Raty blocked 30 of 34 attempts.

"Quite frankly I wasn't pleased with the effort in the first period and we were all in agreement on that," Canadian head coach Peter Smith said after the game. "We were standing around waiting for things to happen instead of making things happen."

The score was 1-1 after the first period, but Vaillancourt's back-to-back goals in the second gave Canada some breathing room.

A Sherbrooke, Que., native and sophomore at Harvard, Vaillancourt won the Patty Kazmaier Award this year as the best hockey player in NCAA Division 1 women's hockey.

The Finns now find themselves in the unusual position of rooting for a team that just beat them, as Canada's performance in a Thursday head-to-head with the U.S. will determine their fate in the tournament.

If Canada wins, the Finnish women will make their first-ever appearance in the title game. If Canada loses, the U.S. advances in their place.

"I've never been nervous about watching a Canada-U.S. game, but I will be tomorrow," Finland captain Emma Laaksonen said.

Finland already caused a stir at the tournament by toppling the Americans in a 1-0 overtime upset on Tuesday.

If the U.S. loses against Canada, it will mark the first time in a decade that the world championship has not ended in a Canada-U.S. showdown.

"There's always that huge competition against the U.S. and you never want to lose a game against them," Vaillancourt said. "If we could eliminate them from the final, that would be awesome for us and really good for women's hockey."

Charline Labonte will start in net against the U.S., with the championship game on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.

In other action in Harbin on Wednesday, Sweden beat Russia 3-1 and Japan prevailed over China 3-1.

With files from Canadian Press

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