U.S. women beat Canada to win Hockey Canada Cup

The U.S. defeated Canada 2-1 to win the Hockey Canada Cup on Sunday in the same building that will host the gold-medal final in women's hockey next February at the Vancouver Olympics.

The U.S. defeated Canada 2-1 to win the Hockey Canada Cup on Sunday in the same building that will host the gold-medal final in women's hockey next February at the Vancouver Olympics.

American captain Natalie Darwitz and Monique Lamoureux scored power-play goals for the U.S., which has now beaten Canada in the last four major international tournaments, including the 2008 and 2009 world championships.

Goaltender Jesse Vetter won her fifth straight start against Canada. She was Canada's nemesis again Sunday with 34 saves, including 19 in the first period.

Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., replied for the hosts in front of 8,137 at GM Place, which will be called Canada Hockey Place for the Games next February. Kim St. Pierre of Chateauguay, Que., had 27 saves in the loss.

The Americans went 2-0 versus Canada in the tournament, which was an Olympic test event.

Canada and the U.S. have met in the final of every world championship and Olympics, except the 2006 Winter Games final which featured Canada and Sweden.

U.S. on a roll

But the U.S. has now won six of its last eight games against its northern rival and, barring a major upset, the two countries are expected to meet for Olympic gold again Feb. 25.

The pace fell off in the second and third periods of Sunday's final. The first period featured multiple scoring chances on both sides and a goal for each.

It's early in Olympic preparation for both countries. The Canadians seemed to tire during their fifth game in seven days. They struggled to generate the tying goal after falling behind 2-1 early in the third.

Canada had five power-play chances and the U.S. two over the final 40 minutes of the game, yet the hosts were outshot 19-15 over that span. Canada went 1-for-8 with a man advantage.

The Canadians had more jump to open the game than they had in a 4-2 loss to the Americans three days earlier in the preliminary round, perhaps because of emotion carrying over from a scrappy semifinal the previous night against the Swedes.

Canada and Sweden traded punches a few times in that game and Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser ripped the helmet off of Danijela Rundqvist in the final minute.

Darwitz's power-play goal at 1:28 in the third period stood up as the winner as Wickenheiser was in the penalty box for slashing. Julie Chu put the puck off the backboards and as it flew back toward Canada's net, the U.S. captain batted the puck over St. Pierre's pad.

Canada had a two-player advantage to end the first period because of bodychecking and interference penalties to Gigi Marvin and Caitlin Cahow. Both Agosta and Marie-Philip Poulin pounced on a rebound off a Wickenheiser shot from the point. Agosta got her stick on it to bat it by Vetter at 19:35 to tie the game 1-1.

With just three seconds left on a U.S. power play, Lamoureux threw the puck on net from a deep angle. The puck went off the skate of Canadian forward Sarah Vaillancourt and slid past St. Pierre's outstretched pad at 8:27.

Finland edged Sweden 1-0 for bronze earlier on a goal from Jenni Hiirikoski. Goaltender Noora Raty made 23 saves for the shutout and Swedish counterpart Kim Martin had 39 saves in the loss.

Toronto forward Cherie Piper did not play for Canada in the final because of an elbow injury she suffered in a pre-game skate Saturday. Darwitz was in the U.S. lineup despite a hard hit in the previous day's semifinal versus Finland.

Canadian head coach Melody Davidson made veteran defenders Gillian Ferrari and Becky Kellar her healthy scratches in the final and said it was simply their turn to sit.

"Maybe some day players will sit because I didn't like the way they were playing, but that's not the case right now," she said prior to the game.

Goaltender Charline Labonte (ankle), forward Jennifer Wakefield (shoulder) and Delaney Collin (post-concussion) did not play any games during the tournament.

The Canadian women have the week off before they resume training in Calgary. They'll participate in a tournament with men's midget triple-A teams Sept. 24-27 and play their first of a six-game series against the U.S. starting Oct. 5 in Victoria.