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U.S. OLYMPIC WOMEN'S ICE HOCKEY TEAM SKATES PAST CANADA, 7-4

NAGANO, Japan (February 14) -- In a preview of the gold medal matchup, the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team erupted for six unanswered goals in the third period to drop Canada, 7-4, at the XVIII Olympic Winter Games here Saturday evening. The U.S. victory, which came in the final preliminary round game for both teams, improved Team USA's record to 5-0-0, while Canada fell to 4-1-0.

Forward and team captain Cammi Granato (Downers Grove, Ill.) registered three points on two goals and an assist, and A.J. Mleczko (Nantucket, Mass.) assisted on two consecutive goals -- including the game-winner -- to lead the United States.

Canada opened scoring in the game on a power-play goal by forward Lori Dupuis at the 3:01 mark in the first period. With 40 seconds remaining in the first period, Team USA capitalized on a power-play opportunity to tie the score, 1-1. On the play, Granato tipped in a rebound for an unassisted goal at 19:20.

Both teams were held scoreless in the second.

The Canadian squad quickly reeled off three straight power-play goals to begin the third period, making the score 4-1 with less than 15 minutes remaining in the game. Forward Laurie Baker (Concord, Mass.) began Team USA's comeback with an equal-strength goal at 7:05. Skating on the power play, Granato one-timed a cross-ice feed from Gretchen Ulion (Marlborough, Conn.) to record her second goal of the game at 10:57 and cut Canada's lead to one. She then assisted on Jennifer Schmidgall's (Edina, Minn.) power-play tally at 12:25 to tie the score, 4-4.

In a scramble in front of the net, U.S. forward Tricia Dunn (Derry, N.H.) poked the puck past netminder Lesley Reddon to tally the game-winner 23 seconds later as Mleczko assisted. Lisa Brown-Miller (Union Lake, Mich.) and Baker added insurance goals to make the final score 7-4.

Team USA goaltender Sara DeCosta (Warwick, R.I.) was inserted in net midway through the second period and stopped 22 shots on the way to capturing her third victory in the tournament. Canada's goaltender, Reddon, made 23 saves in the loss.

Finishing the preliminary round with the tournament's only unbeaten and untied record, the United States (5-0-0) faces Canada (4-1-0) in the gold medal game on Tuesday. Face-off is set for 8:00 p.m. in Big Hat Arena.

SCORING SUMMARY
Team Canada 1 0 3 -- 4
Team 1 0 6 -- 7

First period -- Scoring: 1, CAN, Dupuis (Sunohara), 3:01 (pp). 2, USA, Granato (unassisted), 19:20 (pp). Penalties: Merz, USA (interference), 1:38; Heaney, CAN (interference), 5:43; Dunn, USA (tripping), 11:00; Dupuis, CAN (body checking), 11:44; Mleczko, USA (body checking), 14:20; Diduck, CAN (holding), 17:47.

Second period -- Scoring: none. Penalties: Ruggiero, USA (checking from behind, misconduct), 1:53; Goyette, CAN (roughing), 2:14; Campbell, CAN (holding), 6:24; Brisson, CAN (body checking), 7:40; Bailey, USA (body checking), 17:05; Movsessian, USA (high sticking, double minor), 19:56.

Third period -- Scoring: 3, CAN, Dupuis (Brisson), 1:24 (pp). 4, CAN, Hefford (Dupuis), 5:28 (pp). 5, CAN, Brisson (Wilson, Wickenheiser), 5:23. 6, USA, Baker (King), 7:05. 7, USA, Granato (Ulion, Mounsey), 10:57 (pp). 8, USA, Schmidgall (Granato), 12:25 (pp). 9, USA, Dunn (Mleczko), 12:48. 10, USA, Brown-Miller (Mleczko), 17:06. 11, USA, Baker (unassisted), 18:58 (empty net). Penalties: Baker, USA (tripping), 3:48; Ruggiero, USA (body checking), 4:31; Bye, USA (high sticking), 8:08; Hefford, CAN (body checking), 9:02; Brisson, CAN (slashing), 10:35; Diduck, CAN (body checking), 15:06.

Shots on Goal -- CAN 6-8-21 -- 35; USA 6-11-13 -- 30.

Goalies -- CAN, Reddon (29 shots, 23 saves); USA, Tueting (10 shots, 9 saves), DeCosta at 10:37 of second (25 shots, 22 saves).

Penalties -- CAN 9/18; USA 11/30.

Power Plays -- CAN 4/10; USA 3/9.

Attendance -- 5,940.


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