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Canada 4, Finland 2

By Margaret Lillard
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, February 12, 1998; 8:40 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan (AP) — Therese Brisson fired in a power-play slapshot and added another goal as Canada defeated Finland 4-2 today to earn a shot at the women's Olympic ice hockey gold medal against the United States.

The Canadians' win means they and the U.S. women will meet in the gold medal game next Tuesday. With only six teams playing as women's hockey makes its Olympic debut, the top two finishers in the preliminary round go directly to the gold medal game.

The two also play each other Saturday in the last day of preliminary games.

Finland and China, who play Saturday, will meet again Tuesday for the bronze. Japan's 10-0 loss to the United States and Sweden's 3-1 defeat by China on Thursday put them out of contention.

Brisson scored her first goal 21 seconds after Geraldine Heaney's power-play slapshot came a hair short of success.

Heaney fired from the center blue line at 12:26 of the first period and the puck slipped past Finland goalie Liisa-Maria Sneck. But it settled on the goal line, where Sari Fisk pushed it safely away.

With Sneck screened, Brisson's shot off the next faceoff was successful. And Heaney's slapshot from the same spot was good on the second try, putting Canada up 2-0 at 16:50 of the first.

Brisson grabbed a loose puck to score again nine minutes into the second period.

Finland, after putting Tuula Puputti in goal, got on the board midway through the second when Petra Vaarakallio worked the puck loose from the boards and beat Canada goalie Manon Rheaume low on the glove side.

Danielle Goyette, Canada's top scorer going into tonight's game, made it 4-1 with a point-blank shot between Puputti's skates on a power play late in the second. The Finns closed to 4-2 when Karoliina Rantamaki muscled close to Rheaume and fired the puck past her midway through the third.

Finland played without one of its best forwards, Tiia Reima, who suffered a separated shoulder in the penalty-filled 11-1 defeat of Japan on Monday.

Reima, a critical part of Finland's top-scoring line and special teams, warmed up with the team for Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the United States, but didn't play. She sat on the bench in street clothes during today's game, her injured shoulder wrapped against her body under her team jacket.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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