Canada eased past Sweden 4-1 here Monday evening to defend its Winter Olympic women's ice hockey title at the 2006 Turin Winter Games.
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, met no real challenge as they won five in a row on the way to the top of podium in the northwestern Italian city.
"This is beautiful, and it was just a great team effort to bring home another gold medal for our country," said Canadian captain Cassie Campbell. "I know there are so many people back home who are proud of us. I'm so proud of every single player on our team."
The Swedish women, bronze medalists at the Salt Lake City Gamesin 2002, could be satisfied with their best result at major international competitions after upsetting reigning world champion and potential title contender the United States 3-2 in the semi-finals.
"We are a very young team, I think we will be much better in Vancouver four years later," said Gunilla Andersson, who notched Sweden's only goal.
Cherie Piper and Jayna Hefford scored a pair of goals in the second period to give Canada a convincing 4-0 lead.
Hayley Wickenheiser tore open the Sweden defense to feed Piper,who was waiting in front of the goal, and the latter slapped the puck pass Swedish goalie Kim Martin to make it 3-0 in 28:58.
Less than two minutes later, Jayna Hefford added one in a similar way assisted by Jennifer Botterill.
Sweden finally got a consolation power-play goal through Andersson, who beat Canadian goaltender Charline Labonte with a long-range shot, in 45:24.
Canada outshot Sweden 26-8 in the match played in the Palasport Olympic rink.
Gillian Apps opened scoring for the defending champion, who beat Sweden 8-1 in a preliminary-round match earlier in Turin, three minutes and 15 seconds into the game after she powered in alone in front of the Swedish net.
Caroline Ouellette doubled Canada's lead in 12:13, converting on a perfect long pass from Jayna Hefford.
Earlier on Monday, the United States beat Finland 4-0 for the bronze medal.
(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2006)