Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Turin, Italy A big scare for the U.S. women's hockey team turned into a laugher -- and a lesson.
Angela Ruggiero scored the go-ahead goal on an end-to-end rush with 9:44 to play, and the Americans rallied from a rare two-goal deficit for a 7-3 victory against Finland on Tuesday.
Sarah Parsons also scored two goals for the Americans (3-0), who struggled through most of the first 41 minutes of their final preliminary-round match. Trailing 3-1 in the second period, they faced the possibility of their first loss in international play to a non-Canadian team.
But the U.S. responded with the poise it built during several exhibition matches against Finland last year. Katie King tied it with a long shot through traffic early in the third, and Ruggiero's rush sparked a five-goal third period that included one more for the star defenseman.
"I'm really happy we've had these close games, because Canada hasn't had these types of battles," Ruggiero said of the Americans' probable opponent in the gold-medal match, if both teams survive Friday's semifinals. "There was never a sense of panic in the locker room or on the bench. Maybe that's the edge we have on (Canada). We know we can come back."
The U.S. will meet Sweden in Friday's semifinals. Finland must regroup to play Canada, which beat the Swedes 8-1 earlier to cap a 36-1 run through the preliminary round.
The sport's lack of parity was the talk of the tournament's first three days, when the North American nations beat their four opponents by a combined 39-0. Quietly, Finland was winning its first two games 7-0.