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Team USA Finishes Atop Group B to Advance to Top Qualifying Round
 
From USAHockey.com

HARBIN, China Seven different players scored to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to a 7-1 victory over Switzerland in the second and final preliminary-round game for both teams here today in the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championship at the Baqu Arena. With the win, the United States finished atop Group B in the preliminary round and advanced to the top qualifying round, where it will face off with Finland, the winner of Group C, on Tuesday (April 8) at 12 a.m. EDT.

The United States held a 1-0 lead after the first period, then went up 3-1 in the second and added four tallies in the third frame for the 7-1 final. Team USA outshot the Swiss by a 56-2 margin and posted four power-play goals in the victory.

“We had another good effort from our team today,” said Jackie Barto, head coach for Team USA. “The Swiss goalie played outstanding, but we worked hard to generate a lot of scoring opportunities. Our power play was significant tonight, both in puck movement and generating scoring chances. It was a good game to build on as we move to the next round of the tournament and we can feel our confidence as a team really starting to grow.”

Holding a commanding 23-0 shots advantage through the opening 20 minutes, Team USA put one on the board to take an early 1-0 lead. After Switzerland’s Angela Frautschi was whistled for hooking at 7:24, the United States set up on the power play in the Swiss zone. A pass from Rachael Drazan (Orono, Minn.) to Angela Ruggiero (Harper Woods, Mich.) at the top of the slot resulted in a feed to Caitlin Cahow (Branford, Conn.) in the right faceoff circle. Cahow slapped it just inside the near post at 7:34 for the one-goal U.S. advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Team USA went up 2-0 when Hilary Knight (Hanover, N.H.) passed to Kelli Stack (Brooklyn Heights, Ohio), who roofed it from the goalmouth at 1:28. Switzerland cut its deficit in half at 4:21 during its first power-play chance. After Cahow cleared the puck out of the U.S. zone, Swiss netminder Florence Schelling played it up the ice during a Team USA line change. Melanie Haflinger caught the pass at center ice, walked it in alone and put it low inside the right post.

Up a man at 17:17, Ruggiero wristed a shot from the right point off a pass from Cahow and Gigi Marvin (Warroad, Minn.) tipped it in to make the score 3-1 heading into the final frame.

In period No. 3, captain Natalie Darwitz (Eagan, Minn.) used an early power play to increase the U.S. lead to 4-1, as she put a wrister in the far side of the net from the left faceoff circle. Jenny Potter (Edina, Minn.) was next to tally for the Americans at the 9:41 mark. During a two-man advantage, she slipped one in from the right side of the net from Darwitz.

Molly Engstrom (Siren, Wis.) and Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) closed out the scoring for Team USA, with even-strength goals at 10:49 and 17:12 of the last stanza to account for the 7-1 final.

NOTES: Caitlin Cahow was named U.S. Player of the Game … Twelve players factored in the scoring for the United States … Team USA went 4-for-12 on the power play, while holding the Swiss to one goal on four chances … Kelli Stack scored her first career goal for the United States … All Team USA games are being audiocast live via usahockey.com, and are later archived with video in the same location … Team USA has won one gold medal and nine silver medals in the 10 previous IIHF World Women’s Championships … Joining Jackie Barto on the coaching staff as assistant coaches are Paul Flanagan, head women’s ice hockey coach at Syracuse University, and Kevin Houle, head women’s ice hockey coach at SUNY-Plattsburgh. Dave Flint, head women’s ice hockey coach at Saint Anselm College, is serving as the goaltending coach.

Complete boxscore, game notes and more available on the women’s team page on www.USAHockey.com.