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U.S. OLYMPIC WOMEN'S ICE HOCKEY TEAM DOWNS SWEDEN, 7-1, IN PRELIMINARY ROUND

NAGANO, Japan (February 9) -- Following a slow start, the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team notched four unanswered goals during a six-minute stretch of the second period to defeat Sweden, 7-1, at the XVIII Olympic Winter Games here Monday evening. With the victory, the United States improved to 2-0-0 in the tournament's preliminary round, while Sweden fell to 0-2-0.

In addition to a stifling defense, Team USA was led by forward and assistant captain Karyn Bye (River Falls, Wis.), who scored two goals, and defenseman Sue Merz (Greenwich, Conn.), who contributed three points on one goal and two assists.

Sweden opened the game's scoring at 10:02 of the first period when Malin Gustafsson tallied a power-play goal from the blue line on her team's only shot on goal in the period. U.S. forward Laurie Baker (Concord, Mass.) tied the score, 1-1, when she scored on a one-timer off a pass from Merz at 16:27 in the first.

Weaving through the Swedish defense, Bye started Team USA's second period scoring outburst with a power-play goal at 12:39. Less than two minutes later, Katie King (Salem, N.H.) netted a rebound off a shot by Alana Blahoski (St. Paul, Minn.) to put the U.S. up by two goals, 3-1. From eight feet out, Merz then scored through the five-hole of Sweden's goaltender, Annica Ahlen, for an unassisted goal at 16:20 of the period. With Sweden on the power play, Bye finished the four-goal barrage with a breakaway tally at 18:39 of the second stanza.

In the third period, forward Gretchen Ulion (Marlborough, Conn.) registered a power-play goal off a feed from team captain Cammi Granato (Downers Grove, Ill.) at 14:28 to give the U.S. a 6-1 advantage. Team USA's Shelley Looney closed out the scoring in the game with an unassisted, short-handed goal at 15:30 to make the final score 7-1.

Team USA allowed just one shot on goal by Sweden in each period. Making her first start of the tournament, U.S. goaltender Sara DeCosta (Warwick, R.I.) collected the victory, while Sweden's Ahlen stopped 40 of 47 shots.

The United States (2-0-0) continues round-robin play Wednesday against Finland (2-0-0), while Sweden (0-2-0) faces Canada (1-0-0). Face-off for the USA-Finland game is set for 8:00 p.m. in Aqua Wing Arena.

SCORING SUMMARY
Team Sweden 1 0 0 -- 1
Team USA 1 4 2 -- 7

First period -- Scoring: 1, SWE, Gustafsson (Sjoelander, Holst), 10:02 (pp). 2, USA, Baker (Merz), 16:27. Penalties: Ulion, USA (body checking), 5:07; Movsessian, USA (cross checking), 9:41; Elfsberg, SWE (slashing), 11:57; Baker, USA (hooking), 19:00.

Second period -- Scoring: 3, USA, Bye (Merz, Mounsey), 12:39 (pp). 4, USA, King (Blahoski), 14:26. 5, USA, Merz (unassisted), 16:20. 6, USA, Bye (unassisted), 18:39 (short handed). Penalties: Sjoelander, SWE (interference), :20; Burholm, SWE (slashing), 11:24; Edstrand, SWE (slashing), 12:14; Bailey, USA (interference), 17:02.

Third period -- Scoring: 7, USA, Ulion (Granato), 14:28 (pp). 8, USA, Looney (unassisted), 15:30 (short handed). Penalties: Ulion, USA (roughing), 6:00; Burholm, SWE (hooking), 9:06; Morelius, SWE (checking from behind, 10-minute major), 9:45; Baker, USA (hooking), 9:49; Bench, SWE (delay of game), 13:44; Movsessian, USA (slashing), 14:42.

Shots on Goal -- Sweden 1-1-1 -- 3. USA 13-25-9 -- 47.

Goalies -- SWE, Ahlen (47 shots, 40 saves); USA, DeCosta (3 shots, 2 saves).

Penalties -- USA 7/14; Sweden 8/24.

Power Plays -- USA 2/7; Sweden 1/7.

Attendance -- 3,608.


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