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FEATURE: Women Roll To Semi-Finals

By Harry Thompson, USA Hockey Magazine, 02/14/02, 12:15PM MST


PROVO, Utah -- Talk of Cammi Granato's demise as the leader of the U.S. Women's Team may be a little premature. While no one may be ready to put the 30-year-old superstar out to pasture, all the attention paid to the young guns of the U.S. Team has diverted some of the attention away from the game's greatest player.

After surrendering the spotlight to the team's emerging stars in Tuesday's opener against Germany, the veterans took over to lead the U.S. to a 12-1 rout over China at the Peaks Ice Arena.

Granato led the way with her first Olympic hat trick, and Katie King and Laurie Baker each tallied a pair of goals.

"The score may be a little bit lopsided but we're a solid team," said Krissy Wendell, who had a pair of assists. "It's nice to see the balance in scoring and everyone getting involved in the games."

Granato sandwiched a pair of goals around a Shelley Looney tally to stake the U.S. to a 3-0 lead. It was Looney's first goal since her gold-medal-winning goal in 1998.

The Americans are now tied with Finland atop Group B with four points Granato converted a Wendell pass to open the scoring at 1:19 into the game. She notched her second goal, picking up a loose puck near center ice, cutting across the blueline and ripping a low screamer to the far side that cleanly beat Chinese goaltender Guo Hong.

"I felt good today. The puck seemed to be going my way," Granato said. "Once you get a little confidence you kind of go with it."

After a sluggish first period by their standards, the U.S. Team turned on the pressure in the second period, first killing off a 5-minute major on Tricia Dunn's checking from behind penalty and then controlling the play in China's side of the ice.

"Once we started moving it in the second that's when we saw our results," said Julie Chu, who had a goal and an assist.

King made it 4-0, converting a goalmouth feed from Jenny Potter. Courtney Kennedy ripped a shot from the point that hit off Guo's chest. Potter was in perfect position to pick up the rebound and slip a pass to an unchecked King.

During one stretch in the second period, the U.S. made the Great Wall look more like a chain link fence, notching three goals in a 1:09 span.

Lyndsay Wall lofted a soft shot that Guo couldn't handle. Baker was right there to hammer home the rebound. Just 35 seconds later, Julie Chu tipped home a blast from Courtney Kennedy to make it 6-0.

King got her second goal of the game on a backhander that slipped past the outstretched glove of Guo.
That left China looking distraught and discouraged. If there was a mercy rule in women's hockey, the Chinese team would've had it called on them at that point.

"After three quick goals it gets a little tough," said Chu. "But I can tell you from experience that they don't give up. They may have had a couple moments where their shoulders slumped, but I can tell you that after a few minutes they were right back at us."

Granato picked up her third goal of the game with just 10 seconds left in the second period, picking a Natalie Darwitz shot off the post and jamming it in.

After logging 58 shots against Germany in the opener, the U.S. Team threw 71 shots at Guo.

"We seem to generate a lot of shots against that team. Their goalie has faced 70 shots in the past. She's just an outstanding athlete. Our game plan is to get shots on net and see what goes in," said Granato.

On the other side, U.S. goaltender Sarah Tueting endured long periods of boredom, searching the crowd for her parents, who made the trip from Winnetka, Ill.

"I don't think I've done that since I was 7 years old. I found them, which is a really bad sign," said Tueting.

"If you start looking around the stands and looking at the flags, you have to snap out of it and tell yourself that you're in these games. You tell yourself to watch the puck, bring yourself back to the present. Your mind wanders and you have to keep bringing it back. Some days are easier than others."

The only blemish for the U.S. came midway through the second period on a dump in by Chinese forward Xiuqing Yang. The puck short hopped in front of Tueting and slid under her stick and into the goal.

"It was such a fluke thing. One minute I'm looking down at my pads and then I hear the girl scream," said Tueting.

"The puck was really bouncing on me tonight. Some nights are like that. It probably caught me a little bit lazy. I probably wasn't as focused as I should have been. You can't let it get to you. Stuff happens."

Notes: The U.S. is the second seed in the tournament. China holds the No. 6 seed. The U.S. is 18-0-0 vs. China, including 6-0 on the pre-Olympic tour. The U.S. has outscored China, 139-16, including nine shutouts. .. Finland outshot China, 54-12, but managed to slip only four goals past Chinese goaltender Guo Hong. The line of Julie Chu, Andrea Kilbourne and Tricia Dunn got their second Olympic start. Chu had a goal and an assist in her Olympic debut. Tueting studied neurobiology at Dartmouth College. She is also an accomplished pianist and cellist.