By Andrew Podnieks

Canada did it by scoring early in every period. Jenn Wakefield had two of the three, and Shannon Szabados had a fairly easy time of it to record the shutout by blocking 19 shots. Canada fired 49 shots on the two OAR goalies.

The win sets up another gold-medal showdown between these two titans of women’s hockey in three days’ time. Russia, meanwhile, will play Finland for bronze on Wednesday.

Canada’s win tonight in Gangneung was hardly the all-out thrashing many expected. Indeed, the Canadians looked a little rusty (from a four-day layoff) and a little disinterested (in playing an opponent they’ve never lost to).

Be that as it may, they got the job done and have plenty of time–too much time?–to prepare for the most important game of the last four years.

Canada got exactly the kind of start it typically gets against lesser teams, scoring early and dimming their hopes of upset right away. Tonight, it was Jennifer Wakefield who got the goal, but it was Natalie Spooner who did the heavy lifting.

She went into the corner among a scrum of players, emerged with the puck, and got it to Wakefield in the slot. Wakefield wired a clean shot in at 1:50 for the quick lead.

The Olympic Athletes should have tied the game midway through the period. Yelena Dergachyova had the puck to the back side of Shannon Szabados with a wide-open net, but somehow she managed to poke the puck laterally, into the goalie’s pads.

Canada then made it 2-0 with a goal early in the second. This time it was a little razzle dazzle from Melodie Daoust in the OAR end before she dished off to captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who backhanded a high shot over Valeria Tarakanova’s glove.

The third repeated a pattern asWakefield got her second of the nigth just 1:59 in. She glided out in frotn and took a quick shot that went under the arm of Tarakanova and in from a terrible angle. Just 31 seconds later, Emily Clark got to a loose puck from close range and snapped a fourth goal in.

Coach Alexei Chistyakov was in no mood and quickly replaced Tarakanova with Nadezhda Alexandrova. Still, Rebecca Johnston connected for a power-play goal at 14:08 when she smacked home her own rebound.