U.S. Women 3, Sweden 2

     Goalie Kim Martin and forward Elin Holmlov, two Minnesota Duluth players taking the collegiate season off because of the 2010 Winter Olympics, did their part Wednesday for Sweden, but the United States prevailed 3-2 in the Four Nations Cup women’s tournament in Vierumaki, Finland. Holmlov, UMD’s scoring leader last season, had a goal and as assist, while Martin made 49 saves. Former UMD assistant coach Julie Chu had an assist for the U.S. Canada beat Finland 4-2 as Canada and the U.S. moved to 2-0. UMD captain Saara Tuominen had a goal for Finland. Here’s a release from USA Hockey:

VIERUMAKI, Finland – Natalie Darwitz (Eagan, Minn.) paced the U.S. Women’s National Team with a pair of goals in a 3-2 victory over Sweden at the 2009 Women’s Four Nations Cup here tonight at Vierumaki Arena. With the win, Team USA holds a 2-0 record heading into its final preliminary-round game against Canada on Friday at 10:30 a.m..

Despite the close score, the U.S. dominated the shot count, holding a 52-18 advantage. After Team USA went up 2-0 in the first period, Sweden used a power-play goal to cut the U.S. lead in half in the second period. Late in the game, the Americans regained a two-goal advantage before Sweden converted on the power play in the closing seconds.

"It was a very nice victory," said Mark Johnson, head coach for Team USA. "We created a lot of offensive opportunities. Kim Martin played great in net for Sweden and we did what we had to do in the third period to gain the victory. The team played hard and I’m very pleased with the way we came out, responded and duplicated the strong effort from last night."

In a fast-paced first period, Team USA built a 2-0 lead while outshooting the Swedes by an 18-4 margin. For the second consecutive night, Monique Lamoureux (Grand Forks, N.D.) opened the scoring when she beat Swedish netminder Kim Martin during a scramble in the goalmouth at 12:25. Just over two minutes later, Darwitz put her own rebound through Martin’s legs during a power-play opportunity for a 2-0 American lead at 14:31.

Although the U.S. again held the advantage with 14 shots compared to eight by Sweden in the middle stanza, the Swedes scored the lone goal of the frame to cut the U.S. lead to 2-1. It came :19 into a Swedish power play from Pernilla Winberg during a scuffle in front of the U.S. net that resulted in goaltender Jessie Vetter’s (Cottage Grove, Wis.) stick being knocked out of her hand.

The teams traded goals in the closing minutes of the third period to account for the 3-2 final score. Darwitz potted her second marker of the evening at 18:16 when she walked in through the left faceoff circle and put a wrister high to the far side. Sweden responded on the power play, as Elin Holmlov found the upper left corner of the U.S. net with eight seconds remaining in the game.

NOTES: Natalie Darwitz was named U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA was 1-for-6 on the power play, while Sweden was 2-for-4 … All U.S. games of the tournament will be offered via live video webstream as part of U.S. College Hockey Online’s Game of the Week, with Brian Schulz calling the play-by-play.

USA…………. 2 0 1 — 3
SWEDEN…….. 0 1 1 — 2

First Period – Scoring: 1, USA, M. Lamoureux (J. Lamoureux, Engstrom), 12:25; 2, USA, Darwitz (Marvin, Chu), 14:31 (pp). Penalties: USA, Chesson (holding), 1:16; SWE, Uden-Johansson (hooking), 4:37; SWE, Timglas (high-sticking), 12:57; USA, Team (delay of game), 20:00.

Second Period – Scoring: 3, SWE, Winberg (G. Andersson, Holmlov), 5:31 (pp). Penalties: USA, Chesson (hooking), 5:12; SWE, Nevalainen (hooking), 5:59; SWE, Eliasson (slashing), 15:52.

Third Period – Scoring: 4, USA, Darwitz (Ruggiero), 18:16; 5, SWE, Holmlov (Ostberg, Rundqvist), 19:52 (pp). Penalties: SWE, Nordin (body checking), 5:06; SWE, Nevalainen (holding), 14:09; USA, Team (too many players), 18:39.


Shots by Period 
USA……… 18 14 20 52
SWEDEN….. 4   8  6  18

USA, Vetter, 18 shots-16 saves 
SWE, Martin, 52 shots-49 saves

Power Play: USA 1-6; SWE 2-4
Penalties: USA 4-8; SWE 6-12
Officials: Referee-Melanie Bordeleau; Linesmen-Satu Auno, Tiina Pennanen