Canada get chance of revenge

By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada and the United States will square off in the Olympic ice hockey competition again after both enjoyed crushing victories in the women's semi-finals on Monday.

The Americans thrashed Sweden 9-1 and the Canadians blanked Finland 5-0 to set up a final on Thursday which will be the third time in four Games the teams have met in the gold medal match.

It will provide the Canadians with the chance of revenge after the Games hosts suffered an upset 5-3 loss to the Americans in the men's tournament on Sunday.

"Hockey is a Canadian game and it's our job to make Canadians proud," Canada's Jayna Hefford told reporters.

For the U.S. there was the sweet taste of revenge in beating the Swedes who eliminated them in the semi-finals at the 2006 Turin Winter Games, the biggest ever upset in women's Olympic ice hockey.

The mighty Americans, who eased through the preliminary round with an unbeaten 3-0 record and outscored their opponents 31-1, showed the Swedes no mercy.

"Everyone knows but no one was saying, remember (Turin)," American Angela Ruggiero said. "But a consistent theme throughout these Olympics for our team because of Turin has been let's take it one game at a time."

Canada roared into the semi-finals with three lop-sided wins including an Olympic record 18-0 demolition of Slovakia and the margin of victory over Finland made the game appear closer than it really was.

Sweden will get the chance to leave Vancouver with a bronze despite being pounded 13-1 and 9-1 in their last two contests by Canada and the United States.

The massive scorelines once again put women's hockey in an unwelcome spotlight because of the lack of competitiveness among the eight teams taking part in the tournament.

After Sweden made what was considered a major breakthrough by reaching the final in Turin to end the U.S.-Canada domination of the Games, the routs by the North American teams continued in Vancouver.

"If any team is going to beat Canada or the U.S., they need to have the best day, the best game and their best performance of their lives," Sweden captain Erika Holst said. "If we don't have our best game it is tough."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)