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Canada Shuts out Finland for Women's Ice Hockey Final
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Defending Olympic champion Canada shut out Finland 6-0 Friday evening to meet Sweden in the women's ice hockey final of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.


The Canadians, who have won eight women's ice hockey world titles out of nine on offer since the event was introduced to World Championship level in 1990, were in a good position to win their second consecutive Olympic gold medal following the elimination of the United States. The Americans beat Canada at the Nagano Olympics final in 1998 and the World Championship final in 2005.


Jayna Hefford of Canada admitted she was expecting to play against the United States in the final.


"I watched the match (between US and Sweden) today and was a little shocked," Hefford said. "We were preparing to play U. team, but Sweden played very well today."


Canada, the top finisher from preliminary Group A, scored two in each period for its fourth straight victory at the eight-team tournament. The Canadian defense met no serious challenge while the Finns, who finished fourth in the Salt Lake City Games four years ago, spent most of their time struggling to stop the North Americans' blitz and relentless attack.


Katie Weatherston opened the scoring for at 17:33 before Gillian Apps added another less than two minutes later to give Canada a 2-0 lead in first period.


After the game resumed, Hayley Wickenheiser and Caroline Ouellette also found home with respective long-range shots in 34:59 and 36:26, prompting Finland coach Melody Davidson to replace starting goalie Maija Hassinen with substitute Noora Raty, who conceded two more goals to Cherie Piper in the third period.


"They are one of the best teams in the world and the favorite to win in the final," said Mari Pehkonen of Finland.


"They were really strong today. They have great skaters and outskated us," she added.


Earlier on Friday, Sweden came from 2-0 down to upset the United States 3-2 through penalties in the other semi-final match.


(Xinhua News Agency February 18, 2006)


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