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U.S. beats Canada 7-5 at women’s world hockey championships

MALMO, Sweden — The United States defended their women’s world hockey championship with a 7-5 win over Canada in Saturday’s final.

Canada may have won the last four Olympic gold medals, but the Americans have now taken five of the last six world titles.

The U.S. and Canada have met in all 16 world finals with this year’s championship the highest scoring. Canada won the first eight, but the U.S. has now beaten them in six of the last eight.

The Americans led 5-2 early in the second period, but Canada scored three goals to tie the game heading into the third.

Brianna Decker scored the winner at 11:42 of the third with Kendall Coyne adding an insurance goal at 13:18. Anne Pankowski, Hilary Knight, Megan Keller, Anne Schleper and Haley Skarupa also scored for the U.S.

Rebecca Johnston countered for Canada with a pair of goals. Marie-Philip Poulin, Brigette Lacquette and Caroline Ouellette also scored.

Canada’s Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped 16 of 20 shots in the first period. She was replaced to start the second by Genevieve Lacasse, who made 13 saves on 16 shots.

U.S. veteran Jessie Vetter turned away nine of 13. She was relieved by Alex Rigsby after Canada’s fourth goal of the game. Rigsby stopped all but one of 14 shots.

Canada had less than 24 hours to recover from a hard 3-0 win over Finland in their semifinal, while the U.S. had a few more hours of recovery from their 13-1 romp over Russia.

U.S. captain Meghan Duggan and defender Kacey Bellamy were back in the lineup Saturday after sitting out the semifinal with illness.

Canada last won the final in 2012 with a 5-4 overtime victory in Burlington, Vt. The U.S. prevailed 3-2 in Ottawa in 2013. World championships are not held in the same year as an Olympic Games.

Both countries came to Malmo with 10 players in their respective lineup who hadn’t played in a world championship before. Canada’s roster was the youngest ever with an average age of 23.

Canada brought 11 players who played the Olympic final that Canada won 3-2 in overtime last year, while the U.S. had 13 from that game in their lineup.

Canada opened the tournament with a 4-2 loss to the U.S. in their pool. The Americans were statistically the better team throughout the tournament leading in goals, power-play goals, penalty kill, and fewer shots allowed on net.

Knight was named the tournament MVP and to the media all-star team along with Decker and U.S. defenceman Monique Lamoroureux. Canadian forward Natalie Spooner was chosen to the all-star team as were Finland goaltender Meeri Raisanen and defender Jenni Hiirikoski.

The International Ice Hockey Federation tournament directorate chose Knight as the top forward, Hiirikoski best defenceman and Nana Fujimoto of Japan best goaltender

Finland beat Russia 4-1 for the bronze medal. The 2016 women’s world championship will be held in Kamloops, B.C.

The Canadian Press

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