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Ice hockey: U.S. women expect player solidarity in wage dispute

(Reuters) - The U.S. women's ice hockey team has expressed "confidence" that any American players approached to stand in for them at the upcoming world championship would refuse.

With the women threatening a boycott of the tournament over a wage dispute, the team said in statement on Thursday that USA Hockey was contacting other players to replace them.

"The players are aware that USA Hockey is attempting to secure a team to play in the world championship, in case the players and USA Hockey are unable to reach agreement," it said.

"As we have maintained from the beginning, this issue is about more than the compensation of the current team: it's about equitable treatment for female players now and in the future.

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"A forward-looking agreement will benefit the next generation of players even more than the current players. For that reason, and the fact that the younger players identify with us, we are confident that they would choose not to play."

Earlier this week, the two sides said they had held productive talks and would continue discussions this week in the hope of reaching a deal.

"We ask that they (USA Hockey) approve the original agreement that, the players believed, was acceptable to both parties after Monday's meeting," the statement added.

"Unless there is an agreement, the players remain resolved to bypass the defense of the world championship."

The tournament begins next Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina)