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Raty then returned to the University of Minnesota to finish a college career in which she posted a 1.34 goals-against average, including a 41-0 record and a 0.96 GAA as a senior while winning her second straight NCAA championship. At the Four Nations Cup in November, she made 58 saves to lead Finland to a 3-1 wakeup call over the United States.

“She’s one of the best goaltenders in the world. It’s hard to score on her,” said U.S. defenseman Megan Bozek, Raty’s teammate at Minnesota. “But I think it makes it that much sweeter when you do get that goal on her.”

CARRYING THE FLAG: Canada has never sent a hockey team to the Olympics without Hayley Wickenheiser.

The 35-year-old forward known as the Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey will be playing her fifth Winter Games and going for her fourth gold medal. (She also played on the Canadian softball team that finished tied for last in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.) Wickenheiser was a pioneer in the women’s game — the first woman who wasn’t a goalie to play full-time in a men’s professional league — and she was chosen as Canada’s flag-bearer for the Opening Ceremonies.

But Wickenheiser was stripped of her captaincy by new coach Kevin Dineen, who was brought on to coach the team in December after Dan Church’s surprise resignation. After beating the Americans three straight times in their pre-Olympic tuneup series before Church stepped down, the United States won the next four.

HOME ICE ADVANTAGE: Despite its tradition as a men’s hockey power — and remember, the dominance of what was then the Soviet Union was the reason the Miracle on Ice was such a miracle — the host nation has never made much of a dent in the women’s game. Russia won a bronze medal in the 2001 world championships and then didn’t return to the podium at worlds for a decade.

But the Russians finished third at last year’s worlds, giving the hosts hope that they can reach the medal round at the Olympics for the first time.