U.S. to meet Canada in hockey semifinals at Olympics

There will be no gold medal game rematch of last week’s classic Olympic men’s hockey game between the United States and Russia.

The U.S. is still very much alive for that game, but the host Russians will not be there after being eliminated with a 3-1 loss to Finland on Wednesday morning.

Things went much better for the U.S. as the Americans cruised to a 5-2 win over the Czech Republic.

That sets up what should be an intense semifinal matchup on Friday against Canada, which survived a scare from Latvia when Shea Weber scored a power-play goal in the third period to secure a 2-1 win.

Dustin Brown and David Backes broke a 1-1 tie with late first-period goals to help the U.S. pull away from the Czech Republic.

For Russia, it was another early exit from Olympic hockey tournament.

The Soviet Union had won seven of nine gold medals between the debut of Olympic hockey in 1956 and the breakup of the country in 1991. The so-called unified team also took gold in 1992.

But independent Russia has not been the same.

They have now won just two medals in five tournaments, a silver in 1998 and a bronze in 2002.

Finland will play Sweden in another matchup of regional rivals in the other semifinal.

The U.S. and Canada are also set to play in the women’s tournament, but that will be in the gold medal game on Thursday morning. It will be the fourth time the teams have met in the finals in the five Olympics since the sport was added.

Canada has won three straight Olympic meetings, but the U.S. has gone 4-3 against Canada in seven meetings leading up to the Games.

The women’s gold medal game airs at 9 a.m. Thursday on NBC (Cable 3).