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The Honolulu Advertiser

Associated Press

Posted on: Monday, February 15, 2010

U.S. women roll in hockey opener

 • Chinese pair notch skating world record
Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

USA's Meghan Duggan, middle, celebrates with teammate Kelli Stack after scoring against China in a preliminary round hockey game.

GENE J. PUSKAR | Associated Press

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia Three decades after Mark Johnson scored two goals in the Miracle on Ice, the U.S. women's coach just wanted a comfortable win to celebrate his return to Olympic hockey.

Johnson didn't want an embarrassment for their Chinese opponents and that's why the Americans posted a blowout that stopped short of a wholesale beatdown.

Jenny Potter scored three goals in the first 22 minutes while becoming the leading scorer in U.S. Olympic history, and the Americans opened the preliminary round of the women's tournament with a 12-1 romp over China yesterday.

Meghan Duggan scored twice for the Americans, who got the expected result when a seasoned power takes on a developing team. China has never beaten the United States in 20 tries over nearly two decades, losing by an identical score in Salt Lake City.

Yet the Americans didn't match Canada's 18-0 rout of Slovakia on Saturday, in part because they cycled the puck and remained patient for scoring chances after taking a 7-0 lead early in the second period. With an all-out offensive blitz at UBC Thunderbird Arena, the Americans might have been able to run up the score in pursuit of a huge goal differential but without criticizing Canada, they chose not to do it.

"I get uncomfortable when the score gets too lopsided," Johnson said. "I've been on the other end of that too many times. It can be a difficult balancing act. You certainly want to respect your opponent and the hard work they did to get here. At some point it becomes uncomfortable, so you try to do the things that make the team stronger, get something out of the game, and move on."

Potter scored five points while notching her first Olympic hat trick, and fellow four-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero scored the first goal in the avalanche in front of a crowd including Vice President Joe Biden, Salt Lake City Games executive Mitt Romney and 1980 U.S. hockey captain Mike Eruzione.

Meanwhile, Finland overcame an early deficit to beat Russia, 5-1.



Uh-oh, Canada: Sidney Crosby got hurt in his final NHL game before coming to the Olympics.

Crosby, the biggest star on a Canadian roster filled with big names, blocked a shot with his right shin in the second period of a game against Nashville. He played the rest of the game, with an assist in the third period of a 4-3 shootout loss for Pittsburgh.

"I will be there," Crosby said. "I'm on the flight tonight."



Alexandre Bilodeau's feat winning the men's moguls might land him on a postage stamp or a loonie, Canada's $1 coin.

His victory was the first by a Canadian in any event at an Olympics held in Canada. Although there were only two Olympics in Canada before Vancouver, there were 244 gold medals awarded over those games.

Bilodeau's breakthrough came in the 10th event of these games and well past the point of panic for a country that invested about $6 billion in hosting and $110 million in preparing its athletes to "Own the Podium."

Bilodeau moved into first with a swift, soaring run, then had to wait out one final foe. Later, Bilodeau stood atop the medals stand and bowed, revealing a large red maple leaf on the back of his white helmet as his prize was placed around his neck. Millions of folks from Yukon to Newfoundland were surely singing along to "O Canada."

"I had it, I took it and now I belong to history," Bilodeau said.

Australia's Dale Begg-Smith took silver and American Bryon Wilson got the bronze.



Tim Burke was supposed to challenge for a medal. Then came a heavy, wet snowfall that was tough enough to undo Norwegian great Ole Einar Bjoerndalen as well.

Bjoerndalen, winner of a record nine biathlon medals, had the worst finish of his Olympic career 17th.

"When the snow came down, it was hopeless," he said.

Burke, the first U.S. biathlete to lead the World Cup standings, wound up 47th.

The three medalists France's Vincent Jay, Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen and Croatia's Jakov Fak were among the first 10 starters, before the snow began to cause problems. Jeremy Teela was the top American, finishing ninth.



Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic won the women's 3,000 meters, Germany's Stephanie Beckert got silver, and Canada's Kristina Groves got bronze.

Sablikova also is favored to win the 5,000 meters.

Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. was the top American, finishing ninth.



It's getting to the point where it will be news when they do ski in Whistler.

The Alpine schedule was wiped out yet again, this time keeping the women from a training session because of heavy rain and snow. The men's downhill is to begin today, when drier, cooler air is expected.

The delays continue to help Lindsey Vonn in her recovery from a bruised right shin. Vonn's husband told The Associated Press she went through a rigorous slalom training session, her biggest test since being injured Feb. 2.

"Her focus has definitely changed from, 'Am I going to race?' to 'I'm definitely racing, and I need to get the rust off and try to get the speed back,' " Thomas Vonn said.