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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 26, 2010

U.S., Finland face off in hockey semifinals

 •  Kim sets record in skating to gold


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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Marit Bjoergen crosses the finish line to take the gold medal for Norway in the 4x5 km cross country relay.

ANDREW MEDICHINI | Associated Press

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia As members of U.S. men's hockey team prepare to play Finland in the semifinals today, they'll need to look in the mirror to find their strategy.

"I think both teams play a very similar style," said USA Hockey's Jim Johannson. "We have to play with high energy and put pressure on Finland defense while keeping the forecheck off our defense."

The Americans have been leaning heavily on the strong play of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who has given up five goals in four games and the Finns have benefitted from Calgary Flames' goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who has given up four goals in three games.

The Finns earned the silver medal in 2006 with a strong goals-against average and they have followed a similar script to reach the semifinals in Vancouver.

"We know that we won't score many goals," Finland coach Jukka Jalonen said. "We won't score four, five goals against top countries. So we have to play defense well. We have to snuff them out."

The winner of this game will play today's winner of the Canada vs. Slovakia game, and a USA vs. Canada rematch would certainly feed the NHL's desire to sell the game south of the Canadian border. Plus, it would give the Canadians a chance to redeem itself for the 5-3 loss to the USA in the preliminary round.

"But the Canadians aren't going to root for us (against Finland)," USA defenseman Erik Johnson said. "The Canadians have never rooted for us in any international game I've played in Canada."

MORE ICE HOCKEY

In the ongoing dispute over whether the NHL will let its players participate in the 2014 Sochi Games, the head of Russia's pro hockey league says it would be a serious mistake for the NHL to stand in their way. Alex Medvedev said he met three times in Vancouver with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Bettman is concerned about shutting down the NHL season during the Olympics. He also has doubts about an Olympics in which the hockey would be played at a time when many North American fans would be asleep.

FIGURE SKATING

Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek will not defend his title at next month's world championships in Turin, Italy. Lysacek, who won gold at the Vancouver Olympics a week ago, said he is not retiring. "I still want to continue to compete, though," the 24-year-old Lysacek told icenetwork.com. "I'm not afraid to lose. Regardless of medals, I still have so much to thrive on in the sport. I'm not ready to say goodbye." Five-time U.S. ice dance champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto also will bypass the worlds and are expected to retire from competitive skating.

CROSS-COUNTRYSKIING

Norway won the women's cross-country relay after Marit Bjoergen quickly decided the race on the final leg for her third gold medal of the Vancouver Olympics. Bjoergen and Italy's Sabina Valbusa went out together at the final exchange, but the Norwegian immediately pulled away from her only remaining rival and skied alone the rest of the way. The Norwegian team of Vibeke Skofterud, Therese Johaug, Kristin Stoermer Steira and Bjoergen finished the 4x5-kilometer race in 55 minutes, 19.5 seconds as Norway won its first women's relay gold since 1984. Germany was second after Claudia Nystad beat Finland's Aino-Kaisa Saarinen in a two-way race for the silver. Finland took the bronze. The Americans were 12th.

BOBSLED

American bobsledder Bill Schuffenhauer was detained and released by Canadian police after an argument with his fiancee, a person with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press. Schuffenhauer, a silver medalist in 2002, resumed Olympic training yesterday and is expected to compete in Friday's four-man bobsled. Police released him after finding no evidence of a crime, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. "I don't foresee any way that he would not race, regardless of how things progress," said Darrin Steele, chief executive of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

CURLING

The Norwegian men and their popular, gaudy, diamond-print trousers will meet Canada in the gold-medal final after beating Switzerland. Canada is attempting to become the first Olympic curling team to go unbeaten at the games since the sport returned as a medal event in 1998. It earned its own spot in the final by beating Sweden. In the women's final, it'll be Sweden vs. Canada. The defending gold medalists from Sweden KO'd the reigning world champion Chinese in one semifinal, and the hosts took out Switzerland on a late shot.