- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 18, 2006

TURIN, Italy — The Swedish women’s hockey team doesn’t have to watch “Miracle” — the story of the gold medal-winning U.S. men’s hockey team in 1980 — to see what a major Olympic upset on ice looks like.

Instead, the Swedes can just watch the game tape of their own 3-2 shootout win over Team USA after a 10-minute overtime period last night — their first win against the U.S. in 26 games.

“I always thought the bigger heart will always beat talent, and today proved it,” said Sweden forward Maria Rooth, who scored the clinching shootout goal on U.S. goalie Chanda Gunn.

Sweden will play Canada, who defeated Finland 6-0 yesterday, in the gold medal game Monday. The U.S. meets Finland in the bronze medal game the same day.

Rooth, who played at University of Minnesota-Duluth, also scored both of Sweden’s regulation goals in the first three minutes of the second period, tying the game 2-2.

In the shootout, Pernilla Winberg scored first for Sweden.

Meanwhile, Swedish goalie Kim Martin, in her second Olympics at 19 years old, stopped all four U.S. shootout attempts and 37 of 39 shots in regulation and overtime. One U.S. shootout try was discounted because Martin moved too soon, but she stopped the second attempt, too.

Martin helped keep the Americans scoreless in the last 48:56 of the game, including the overtime, as Sweden finally broke the hammerlock of U.S.-Canada dominance.

“This is the greatest thing to happen to women’s hockey in Sweden and everywhere around,” Martin said.

Rooth said: “I felt confident we were gonna win it because of Kim. We had no pressure at all. All the pressure was on them.”

The U.S. had not lost to any team but Canada since international women’s play began in 1990. The Americans beat Canada to win the first gold medal in 1998. The Canadians beat the U.S. four years ago.

For the Americans, playing for a bronze medal is a first — and one they aren’t happy about.

“It hurts right now,” said defenseman Angela Ruggiero, a three-time Olympian and one of the team’s most visible players. “It stings. I’m in shock. There’s a lot of emotions going through my head.”

The U.S. had stretches of sloppy play and failed to convert numerous chances.

From coach Ben Smith on down, they denied that practicing together for less time than in 2002 had anything to do with the outcome. And, at least publicly, no one admitted that cutting Cammi Granato, the star and captain of the previous two Olympic teams, or other veterans was a factor.

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