Team USA prevails in shootout

Updated: April 11, 2005, 1:32 PM ET
Associated Press

LINKOPING, Sweden -- The United States beat Canada 3-1 in a penalty shootout to win the Women's World Hockey Championship on Saturday, ending the defending champions' run of eight straight titles.

Natalie Darwitz, Angela Ruggiero and Krissy Wendell scored for the Americans after regulation and a 20-minute overtime ended 0-0. Sarah Vaillancourt scored Canada's goal in the shootout, the first in championship history.

"It was amazing out there, both teams battled so hard and both goalies obviously played outstanding," said Ruggiero, a two-time Olympian who also played against men in the Central Hockey League in January.

"To finally win a world championship … it took our program 15 years. But the longer the wait the sweeter the taste. We came so close so many times, to finally pull it off in a dramatic fashion like this feels unbelievable."

Earlier, Sweden won the bronze medal behind Maria Rooth's two goals in a 5-2 victory over Finland.

The United States finally won the title after losing all eight previous championship games to Canada. The Americans outshot their opponents in every period, hit the post once in the third period and nearly scored late in overtime when Cammi Granato's shot came within inches from the goal line during a power play.

Kelly Stephens had the best scoring chance in regulation, hitting Canadian goalie Kim St. Pierre's right post from close range after taking a pass from Wendell with only seconds left of an American power play seven minutes into the last period. The Americans outshot Canada 14-6 in the session.

In the first period, the United States outshot Canada 15-7. Granato had two scoring chances, the best one a wrister after skating in front of the net during a power play.

The Americans kept the shots coming in the second period, outshooting Canada 11-6. Wendell, named the top U.S. female college player this season and the championships' top scorer with four goals and five assists, nearly scored on a breakaway with seconds left of a Canadian power play halfway through the period.

But Canada was sharp in the last five minutes, Chanda Gunn making a good save on Caroline Ouellette's shot from between the circle after the U.S. goalie gave up a rebound.

With two minutes left, Hayley Wickenheiser shot just wide despite being brought down when squeezing through heavy traffic in front of the net after sloppy defense by the Americans.

In the bronze-medal game, it was the first third-place finish for Sweden in nine championships. Finland, which also lost the 2002 Olympic bronze-medal game to their Swedish rivals, finished third in seven of nine championships since the inaugural edition in 1990. Sweden's previous best in the worlds was fourth place, most recently in 2004.

At Norrkoping, Kazakhstan edged Russia 2-1 after a penalty shootout to finish seventh. Russia was eighth and last.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press