Never any doubt

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:49 PM ET

The two-team tournament has come down to just that.

Was there ever any doubt?

The Canucks and the Yanks, who've trampled the also-rans here by a combined score of 44-1 and who've met in the previous nine World Women's Hockey Championship finals, will make it a perfect 10-for-10 tonight.

The Maple Leaf against the Red White and Blue, with gold -- and cross-border bragging rights -- on the line.

"Perfect -- right where we want to be," defenceman Delaney Collins of Pilot Mound, Man., said after Team Canada's mundane, 5-0 romp over the Finns last night.

The U.S. had booked its berth in the final the night before, also at the expense of our Finnish friends.

And as lopsided as the score clock has looked at times this week, chances are it won't be leaning dramatically, either way, in the finale.

In fact, the Americans, it could be argued, have looked every bit as good as Team Canada.

The teams didn't prove much in their meeting three days ago, Canada eaking out a 5-4 win via the dreaded shootout.

"They gave us no room to breathe," Team Canada boss Melody Davidson said of that game.

Tonight, before a sellout crowd, the collars will be tighter, the air thicker -- and the stakes way higher.

And Davidson didn't mind making a prediction.

"It'll be the same as you saw the other night," the coach said. "It'll be back and forth, a one-goal game. It'd be great if it was more, for us, but it's gonna be a one-goal game."

The Canadians didn't think they were at their best the last time, or last night, for that matter.

"We need to play a little bit better," Collins said. "But I don't think there's any trouble elevating our game against the U.S."

The U.S., who knows how good they can be?

"Everything will be on the line for both teams," U.S. head coach Mark Johnson said. "It should be a lot of fun."

Actually, somebody's going to hate it.

Canada can still taste the defeat from the gold-medal final at the last worlds, in 2005. A repeat, on home soil, would be like chasing a lemon with a mouthful of rotten sardines.

"We don't want that to happen," Danielle Goyette said.

The Americans have less to lose, as much to gain.

They're younger, rebuilding their program and still the underdog, despite their status as defending champs.

"They have a lot more older players and more experience," U.S. forward Jenny Potter said of Canada. "But that doesn't mean you can't walk away with a gold medal. It's proven. The 1980 Olympic team, for example."

Ah, yes -- the Miracle on Ice, when a team of American college players shocked the mighty Soviets for Olympic gold.

Thanks to the movie, Miracle, the story has taken on mythical status with members of Team USA.

"History, that's what you learn from," Potter said.

Johnson was a member of that team, and while he hasn't pulled out an old video of the tournament, he doesn't mind sharing the odd story from it with his players.

"It just goes to show you if kids are willing to play for a team and put those individual egos aside... you give your team the best chance to be successful," the coach said. "That's what you take out of 1980. This group has become a team in a short period of time. They care for one another. As a coach, those are real positive signs."

Enough to knock off the reigning Olympic champ?

"They've been working hard for an opportunity like this," Johnson said. "Opportunity is now knocking. So open up the door, and let's go."


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