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Hickok SportsThoughts

Sports historian and author Ralph Hickok of www.hickoksports.com sometimes meanders on about current happenings in sports and sometimes looks back in languor.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ninth Time Is Charm for U. S. Women

Canada and the United States faced off Saturday night in the gold medal match at the world women's hockey championships in Linkoping, Sweden.
Nothing new about that. In all eight previous championships, Canada had beaten the U. S. in the final game.
This time, though, the American women prevailed to win their first gold medal. Maybe that should be "endured," because it took a while. The game was scoreless at the end of regulation, so they went into overtime.
After 20 minutes of that, there was still no score. Time for a shootout.
Natalie Darwitz, Krissy Wendell, and Angela Ruggiero scored in the shootout and Chanda Gunn made saves of three of Canada's four shots to get the win.
It was the first time the women's world championship was ever decided in a shootout. Fittingly, the crowd of 4,488 was the largest ever for women's ice hockey in Sweden.
Wendell won the championship's MVP award, Gunn was named best goaltender, and Ruggiero was named best defenseman. Jayna Hefford of Canada won the best forward award.
It was a tough loss for Canada, which didn't give up a goal in regulation time during the entire tournament. The Canadians won their first four games by a combined score of 38-0 before being blanked by Gunn.
A half dozen of the women who played in Sweden were on the ice when Minnesota beat Harvard, 4-3, to win the NCAA championship just a couple of weeks ago.
Wendell, Darwitz, Kelly Stephens, and Lyndsay Wall of Minnesota were on the winning U. S. squad, along with Harvard's Julie Chu. Sarah Vaillancourt of Harvard played for Canada.