Canadian women seal third gold

Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:37pm EST
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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada beat the United States 2-0 on Thursday to claim a third successive Olympic women's ice hockey title, setting the stage for what the hosts hope will be a golden double in their favorite sport.

Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice in the first period and shutout netminding from Shannon Szabados completed an unbeaten romp through the competition which ended in wild celebration on the ice to a deafening standing ovation.

"It's so special I don't know if it's sunk in yet," said Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser who was playing in her fourth Olympics. "You grow up in Canada you know the expectations.

"We stuck together, believed in ourselves and played hard..just to win on home ice, the crowd and family."

Hockey-mad Canadians hope to repeat the scene on Sunday if the men's team can get past Slovakia in their semi-final on Friday and reach the gold medal final.

"We wish them good luck and I hope we inspire them," Canadian forward Gillian Apps told reporters.

Earlier, Karoliina Rantamaki scored two minutes into overtime to lift Finland to a 3-2 win over Sweden in the bronze medal game.

The final was played out in front of an excited capacity crowd including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, hockey great Wayne Gretzky and actor Michael J Fox in an electric atmosphere that almost rivaled the Canadian men's clash with Russia on Wednesday.   Continued...

<p>Marie-Philip Poulin (C) of Canada celebrates her goal against the U.S. with teammates Meghan Agosta (2) and Meaghan Mikkelson (12) during the women's ice hockey gold medal game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 25, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>