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U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team Falls to Sweden in Semifinals

By, 02/17/06, 10:30AM MST


TORINO, Italy -- The U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team had a 39-18 shots-on-goal advantage, but Sweden edged Team USA 3-2 in a shootout in semifinal action at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

"Our kids played very hard," said U.S. Head Coach Ben Smith (Gloucester, Mass.). "Give credit to Sweden. They got stronger as the game wore on. Obviously their goaltender played very well."

With Team USA on the power play, Kristin King (Piqua, Ohio) notched her first Olympic goal at 7:55 of the opening period when she picked up a Julie Chu (Fairfield, Conn.) rebound in the center of the crease and jammed it in for an early U.S. lead.

At 1:04 of the second session and the U.S. on the power play, Kelly Stephens (Seattle, Wash.) made it 2-0 when she deflected a Lyndsay Wall (Churchville, N.Y.) slapshot to the high, far corner. Sweden's Maria Rooth cut the lead in half at 6:17 when she took a pass at the corner of the crease, spun around and back-handed the puck through the legs of U.S. netminder Chanda Gunn (Huntington Beach, Calif.). Rooth knotted the score just more than three minutes later when her shorthanded chance found the back of the net at 9:40. Team USA had numerous chances to re-gain the lead with a two-man advantage for more than three straight minutes in the back half of the second period, but could not solve Swedish netminder Kim Martin.

While there was no scoring in the third period, the U.S. overcame adversity of its own by killing off back-to-back penalties in the waning minutes of regulation and the beginning of overtime, including :34 of a Swedish two-man advantage.

Team USA outshot Sweden 8-3 in the 10-minute overtime period, with Natalie Darwitz (Eagan, Minn.) and Sarah Parsons (Dover, Mass.) having the best U.S. chances. Gunn foiled Sweden's best chance four minutes into overtime when she made a huge toe save on Pernilla Winberg from point-blank range.

The game was decided by game-winning shots and Sweden finished with 2-0 advantage to gain the 3-2 victory.