Feb 6, 2014, 1:25 AM EDT
SOCHI, Russia — From Jim Craig in 1980 to Dominik Hasek in 1998, the Winter Olympics has seen its share of hockey goaltending heroics. Saturday in Sochi, the United States women will kick off their tournament against a Finland team that features as good a candidate as any to become the next netminding legend.
Noora Raty has already beaten the Americans once, in November, when she made an incredible 58 saves on 59 shots, helping the Finns to a stunning 3-1 upset at the Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid. Some called it the Finland women’s very own Miracle On Ice – even more appropriate given where it took place.
“I was seeing the puck really well,” Raty said Wednesday. “We were able to keep them outside from the best scoring areas. … That’s huge against the USA.”
Making life a bit more difficult for the 24-year-old former Golden Gopher should be the game plan for the Americans on Saturday.
“She definitely competes hard, positionally she does very well and I think she does a great job of keeping them in every game,” U.S. goalie Jessie Vetter said. “We will have to work hard, move the puck around and create deflections to score on her.”
While most of the talk ahead of the women’s tournament has focused on the rivalry between the two powerhouses, the Americans and the Canadians, U.S. coach Katey Stone has maintained all week that her team’s attention is on the Finns.
“The last game we didn’t win was against Finland in the Four Nations Cup,” said Stone, “and there’s not a player in that locker room that doesn’t remember that.”
After Finland on Saturday, the U.S. women have two more preliminary-round games, Monday versus Switzerland and Wednesday versus Canada.
- Dara Torres picks greatest female swimmer(s) of all time, recalls teenage Michael Phelps, more in Q&A 1
- Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross withdraw from Moscow Grand Slam 0
- Prefontaine Classic preview, schedule, broadcast info 0
- Kerri Walsh Jennings injures shoulder, forfeits match 0
- Katie Uhlaender, skeleton World champion, becomes track cyclist 0
- Missy Franklin returns to Colorado, coach Todd Schmitz 1
- Rulon Gardner on returning to wrestling training, getting his gold medal back 1
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)