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Canada advances to final at women's world under-18 hockey championship

CALGARY - Inspired by Canada's win at the world junior men's hockey championship last week, the country's under-18 women's team wants a gold medal too.

CALGARY - Inspired by Canada's win at the world junior men's hockey championship last week, the country's under-18 women's team wants a gold medal too.

The Canadian women are win away from that coveted medal at the inaugural women's world under-18 hockey championship following their 7-1 semifinal win over Sweden on Friday.

The host team will face the U.S., an 8-0 winner over the Czech Republic, in Saturday's championship game.

The Canadian women are aiming for the same standard achieved by the men's under-20 team last Saturday in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

"They want to win because the men won and they know how important that is to Canada and to hockey and they come here and they accept that expectation and pressure," head coach Melody Davidson said.

Catherine White of Brampton, Ont., led Canada with a pair of goals on Friday, including a short-handed one early in the second that gave the hosts full control of the game.

"We knew, the goalie, the way she played (go) upstairs or through the five-hole," White said. "That's what our goalie coach was telling us."

Camille Dumais of Beaconsfield, Que., had a goal and two assists for Canada.

Marie-Philip Poulin of Beauceville, Que., Brianne Jenner of St. Catharines, Ont., Audrey Belanger-Cournoyer of Montreal and Carolyne Prevost of Sarnia, Ont., also scored, while defenceman Tara Watchorn of Newcastle, Ont., contributed a pair of assists.

Goaltender Delayne Brian of Winnipeg stopped 15 of 16 shots for her third win of the tournament, while Swedish counterpart Valentina Lizana was under siege for much of the night and made 39 saves on 46 shots.

Lisa Johansson scored for Sweden in the third period.

Canada's semifinal at Father David Bauer was an announced sellout and no more tickets were available for Saturday's final in the building that holds about 2,000 people.

There is no television coverage of the final, but the championship game will be webcast on telus.com and on hockeyCanada.ca starting at 9:30 ET.

Canada and the U.S. have a long-standing and occasionally heated rivalry in women's hockey that the under-18 teams have been quick to embrace.

"I was caught off guard on the rivalry already," Davidson said. "I thought it would take a little while to establish it, but it's on both sides I'm sure.

The two countries have met in the final of every women's world championship with Canada taking all but one. The two sides have also clashed for Olympic gold twice with each winning one.

The Canadian under-18 team swept the U.S. in a three-game series last August in Ottawa by a total score of 12-4. This Canadian team has 15 players from that edition and the U.S. has 11 veterans.

"They're quick, tenacious on the puck and they've got some great talent from the front end all the way back to the goaltending, so I would say it will be a classic again," Davidson said of the Americans.

Canada rattled off seven unanswered goals against Sweden on Friday before Johansson scored at 7:38 of the third period.

The host team's power play was humming as Dumais scored Canada's fourth of the game with a man advantage at 4:29. Canada's special teams were the difference as they held Sweden scoreless on four opportunities.

"I'd like to say we worked on them," Davidson laughed. "You just go with your chemistry and players that are familiar with each other and obviously there's some talent out there."

Prevost and Belanger-Cournoyer scored power-play goals in the back half of the second period and White scored one even strength at 6:48.

Canadians took a firm grip on the game early in the second period. Not only did they not allow a goal while they were two players short for 1:17, but White scored a short-handed goal at 3:17 after the first penalty expired.

"Scoring short-handed is a big push for the team and it gives you drive to win those races," Dumais said.

Jenner tipped Watchhorn's shot from the point past Lizana at 17:41 of the second period.

Poulin opened the scoring for Canada with a power-play goal at 9:31 for her tournament-leading eighth and it was the first power-play goal the Swedes gave up in the tournament.

Canada outshot the Swedes 15-4 in the first period. The hosts pressured Sweden off the opening faceoff and spent the first 1:53 in the offensive zone before the Swedes iced the puck.

 
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