Ready for Round 2

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

The Apprentice is ready to show Hayley Wickenheiser who's boss.

U.S. defenceman Angela Ruggiero, who appeared on the current season of Donald Trump's reality show, will see plenty of the Canadian captain tonight when the Americans meet Canada in the WWHC gold-medal game at a sold-out MTS Centre.

"I'll take her any day," said Ruggiero, who was matched against Wickenheiser on Saturday and will likely be again tonight. "I'll go head-to-head against her any second, and I love it. I get excited when she has the puck, because I'm like, 'You're not getting by me.'

"She's a good player, but Team Canada has a lot of phenomenal forwards, and a lot of ones that tend to get overlooked."

Tonight's gold-medal match is the one that has been forecast since it was announced more than a year ago that the worlds were coming to Winnipeg. The fans got a thrilling preview on Saturday, when Canada won 5-4 in a shootout in the playoff round.

The U.S. spent almost a third of their 60-minute practice yesterday at the Winnipeg Winter Club working on the shootout, if that gives you any indication of where tonight's game is headed.

"It's a dream scenario," U.S. captain Krissy Wendell said. "Fifteen thousand people watching a Canada-U.S. women's hockey game for the world championship. It doesn't come along too often, so we're looking forward to it."

The Americans are the defending champs, having won the last world championship in 2005. Canada, however, is the defending Olympic champ, and it also won the other eight world championships -- all over the U.S.

The U.S. went younger after losing to Sweden in an Olympic semifinal last year, but its first-timers looked quite comfortable on Saturday in front of more than 15,000 pro-Canuck fans.

"The young kids who'd never been in that atmosphere got their feet wet and did pretty well," U.S. coach Mark Johnson said.

One such player is Warroad, Minn., native Gigi Marvin, who centres the third line consisting of two other worlds rookies, Jinelle Zaugg and Meghan Duggan. Marvin actually got a kick out of Saturday's contest.

"It's pretty exciting," she said. "No matter who they're cheering for, the crowd is phenomenal. Whether they're cheering against you or for you, it's fun to play in front of that many people."

But the Americans, led by high-flying forwards such as Wendell and Natalie Darwitz, would love nothing more than to play the role of spoiler, marching into the Great White North and capturing gold in the city that the AHL's Manitoba Moose have dubbed "The Home of Hockey."

"After we scored one of our goals on Saturday, someone said, 'Hey, do you hear that?' It was dead silence," Marvin said. "So it's fun to silence a crowd, but as long as we're playing well and we play as we expect to play, it should be a fun game no matter what."

Added Ruggiero: "We'd love to play in front of a sold-out crowd and beat them on their home ice, so that's what we're setting out to do."


Photos