Finland’s Noora Raty sets sights on gold (and possibly Olympic hockey stardom)

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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.

Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will host the Closing Ceremony

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Figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will host the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night in Primetime on NBC. The team, along with play-by-play partner Terry Gannon, made the announcement during Tuesday night’s broadcast of the ladies’ short program.

Lipinski, Weir and Gannon will commentate the pageantry from PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, which will feature the Parade of Nations, interviews, profiles, musical performances and more.

“Parades, K-Pop, fireworks, costumes, dancing – who better to host the world’s biggest party than Tara, Johnny and Terry,” Jim Bell, President, NBC Olympics Production and Programming, said in a press release.

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Lamoureux twins shine in Olympic Final

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It must be an incredible feeling to share the Olympic experience with your twin sister while skating next to one another on the same team. But, how many sets of twins can say they each had a game-changing moment to help their team capture a gold medal for the first time in 20 years?

NBCOlympics.com: Gold at last: U.S. women beat rival Canada in epic shootout

The Lamoureux twins are in elite company as they both shined individually while helping the U.S. defeat Canada in the women’s hockey gold-medal game.

“I’m digging the new necklace I got today,” Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said. “It is been a dream to do this, side by side. We have pushed each other since we were little and our brothers have kicked our butts along the way.”

Jocelyne, tasked with shooting in the first round of extra innings, performed a highly-skilled maneuver en route to scoring the eventual shootout-winning goal. No. 17 skated in all alone, faked to her backhand as Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados slipped, then confidently slid the puck into the back of the net.

Click here to read the full story and watch highlights from USA’s incredible win