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NAGANO, Japan (February 17) -- In the first-ever gold medal game in Olympic women's ice hockey competition, the United States defeated Canada, 3-1, at the XVIII Olympic Winter Games here Tuesday evening. The victory gave the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team the tournament's only unbeaten and untied record at 6-0-0, while Canada fell to an overall record of 4-2-0.

Forward Sandra Whyte (Saugus, Mass.) had a hand in all three Team USA goals, contributing two assists and adding an empty-net goal in the final seconds of the game. U.S. forward Gretchen Ulion (Marlborough, Conn.) added two points on a goal and an assist while goaltender Sarah Tueting (Winnetka, Ill.) shut down Canada's offense with 21 saves.

Following a scoreless first period, Whyte snapped a pass to Ulion who drove a shot past Canadian goaltender Manon Rheaume for a power-play goal at 2:38 in the second. Team USA defenseman Sue Merz (Greenwich, Conn.) was credited with an assist after jump-starting the attack with a pass to Whyte.

In the third period, forward Shelley Looney (Trenton, Mich.) gave the United States a 2-0 lead on a power-play tally at the 10:57 mark. The puck was advanced by Whyte and Ulion to set up Looney on the play. Nine seconds after a face-off in the U.S. defensive zone, Canada's Danielle Goyette closed the Americans' lead to one on a power-play goal at 15:59.

With eight seconds remaining in the game, the United States thwarted a comeback attempt by Canada after Whyte controlled the puck at mid-ice to register an empty-net goal and seal the victory, 3-1.

In net for the United States, Tueting stopped 21 of 22 shots to record her third victory while giving up just four goals in the tournament. Canada's Rheaume recorded 21 saves in a losing effort.

In the bronze medal game, Finland scored three goals in the second period to post a 4-1 victory against China.

Team Canada 0 0 1 -- 1
Team USA 0 1 2 -- 3

First period -- Scoring: none. Penalties: Mounsey, USA (high sticking), 8:57; Campbell, CAN (holding), 17:00.

Second period -- Scoring: 1, USA, Ulion (Whyte, Merz), 2:38 (pp). Penalties: Drolet, CAN (tripping), :43; Coyne, USA (holding), 14:09; Movsessian, USA (tripping), 17:22.

Third period -- Scoring: 2, USA, Looney (Whyte, Ulion), 10:57 (pp). 3, CAN, Goyette (Wickenheiser, Heaney), 15:59. 4, USA, Whyte (unassisted), 19:52 (empty net). Penalties: Goyette, CAN (body checking), 9:37; Mounsey, USA (body checking), 15:50.

Shots on Goal -- CAN 9-4-9 -- 22; USA 8-11-5 -- 24.

Goalies -- CAN, Rheaume (23 shots, 21 saves); USA, Tueting (22 shots, 21 saves).

Penalties -- CAN 3/6; USA 4/8.

Power Plays -- CAN 1/4; USA 2/3.

Attendance -- 8,626.

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