U.S. has never defeated Canada at worlds

Updated: April 8, 2005, 7:57 PM ET
Associated Press

LINKOPING, Sweden -- Kelly Stephens led a three-goal second period to help the United States beat Sweden 4-1 on Friday and move into the women's world championship final against Canada.

The Americans erased an early deficit with goals from Stephens, Katie King and Molly Engstrom. Natalie Darwitz scored early in the last period for the final margin.

Canada beat Finland 3-0 behind two goals from Jayna Hefford to reach Saturday's final for the ninth straight time. Hayley Wickenheiser, who played men's third-division hockey in Finland last year, also scored for Canada, which has beaten the United States in every final since the inaugural event in 1990.

"It was expected ... we'll battle it out tomorrow," American defender Angela Ruggiero said.

Canada outscored its first four opponents 38-0 -- the first time in championship history a team hasn't conceded a single goal on its way to the gold-medal game.

"We're a confident team, but (Finland) definitely gave us a challenge," Hefford said.

With another title, Canada will match a record for consecutive world hockey championships won by a country. The former Soviet Union men's team won every crown from 1963-71.

Charline Labonte earned the shutout for Canada, stopping all 16 shots she faced. Coach Melody Davidson will have to decide whether to start Labonte or Kim St. Pierre in the final. Each goalie has played two games in the championship.

Wickenheiser scored early in the second period, when her hard shot off the boards bounced back toward goaltender Annakaisa Piiroinen, deflected off the goalie's skates and went into the net. Danielle Goyette got an assist.

Hefford made it 2-0 just 47 seconds later when she beat Piiroinen with a low shot to the glove side. She also shot a backhander past Piiroinen from close range midway through the third period after getting a pass from Jennifer Botterill.

In games for fifth to eighth places, China shut out Kazakhstan 3-0 and Germany beat Russia 2-1 at Norrkoping.

Sweden and Finland will play for bronze before the title game.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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