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Team USA prevails in shootout

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.