Let's get physical

ADAM WAZNY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

American forward Natalie Darwitz was all smiles after losing in a shootout to Canada yesterday, still feeling the adrenaline and emotion of yet another North American grudge match.

That might be an understatement. Try a physical, heated affair where bodies were sent flying. Any chance a player had to take a jab at another player was considered a gift from God -- as evidenced by Darwitz's takedown on an unsuspecting Canadian player at the midway point of the third period.

She took a charging penalty on the borderline dirty hit, but inside, she was smiling.

"Typical Canada-U.S. hockey game," Darwitz said after losing a 5-4 decision to Canada at the World Women's Hockey Championships yesterday. "Any time you face Canada, there's going to be hooks, there's going to be slashes, there's going to be little taps behind the legs behind the play and stuff. That comes with the territory. It makes the game fun. Hopefully the fans respond to a little physical contact."

"There's no checking in women's hockey," she added, with a little wink and a big mischievous grin -- indicating she likes the rough play. "Yeah, there is."

The Canadians, of course, are no strangers to getting physical. They turned to mucking it up after a poor first period showing, deciding to try to slow the speedy and skilled Americans by turning the MTS Centre into a grindhouse. The home side needed to go that direction -- they looked out of sorts and were lucky to be in the game after the first 20 minutes.

"It gets us going," said Canadian forward Sarah Vaillancourt said of the increase in physical play. "They have skill players and we needed to play body on body on them. You can't just let them skate around and expect to get the puck from them. We had to play physical."

The U.S. team was a bit of a mystery coming into this tournament. With half their roster making their first appearance in a world championship, they not only had plenty to show to the other countries in this event, but to themselves.

"I think we proved we're a good team," forward Jenny Potter said. "We have a lot of heart , we have a lot of young players with a lot of ability and a lot of skill. It was just a great stepping block for us, moving on to the next game. We showed what we are ... we're a great team."

The younger Americans also showed they can get into a street battle with the Canadians should they meet in the Tuesday's gold-medal final and not be intimidated. They not only took everything the bigger, stronger and more experienced hosts threw their way, but dished out a little nastiness themselves.

Darwitz's big hit proved that point yesterday.


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