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U.S. women look to avoid Swedish repeat

Mon., Feb. 22, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – In the relatively short history of women’s hockey in the Olympics, the United States has enjoyed many more successes than failures.

An upset loss to Sweden in the semifinals of 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, stands out as the low point. The Americans led 2-0 before the Swedes roared back for a 3-2 win that denied the Americans a chance to face archrival Canada for the gold. The U.S. settled for beating Finland 4-0 for the bronze.

The U.S. will have an opportunity to avenge that stunning defeat to Sweden today in the semifinals.

“It’s a repeat of Torino,” said defenseman Angela Ruggiero, who is playing in her fourth Olympics. “We plan on bringing everything we’ve been working toward. We’ve been training just for this. We know how important the next game is. We know we’re going to have to show up (today) to advance to the final.”

In its opening round, the U.S. dismantled opponents, outscoring them 31-1, the closest margin a 6-0 win Thursday over Finland.

In the other bracket, the Canadians also went 3-0, outscoring their opposition 41-2, including a 13-1 victory Wednesday over Sweden. Canada faces Finland in its semifinal.

The powerhouses appear to be on a collision course. But first, Sweden.

“It’s not revenge because there are 15 new players,” said Ruggiero, one of six U.S. holdovers from Turin. “It’s a lesson that the older players are sharing: Anything again can happen in the Olympics. There are upsets and that’s the exciting part about the game.”

The U.S. is hitting on all cylinders, with a surging offense, solid defense and goaltender Jessie Vetters, who has stopped all 30 shots she’s faced in recording consecutive shutouts.

“You go into the first couple of games and you kind of get through them and then you play that game against Finland,” said defenseman Molly Engstrom, also a member of the Turin team. We have to get back to the things that we’re good at and the things we’ve been practicing.

“We feel good, we feel confident but we have to keep building on it.”

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