On top of the world

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

The Canadian women are golden once again, and it was the hometown girl who got the party started.

Winnipeg forward Jennifer Botterill's tally was the catalyst for a three-goal outburst in the second period that eventually turned into Canada's 5-1 win over their archrivals from the U.S. in the World Women's Hockey Championship final last night at MTS Centre.

It was a blowout by Canada-U.S. standards, as their last six meetings in the WWHC final had been decided by no more than two goals.

STOOD AND CHEERED

The sellout crowd of 15,003 spectators stood and cheered for the final minute and then erupted when the buzzer sounded. Red and white confetti poured down from the roof as the Canadian players mobbed winning goalie Kim St-Pierre in the northeast corner of the ice.

"It's really special," Botterill said with the gold medal hanging around her neck. "Any time we get the chance to compete in Canada, it's incredibly special for us.

"And to have an atmosphere like this, for people to come out and support us, it's amazing."

The victory gave Canada its ninth world title in 10 attempts -- all over the Americans. The U.S. won its first world title in 2005 with a 1-0 shootout victory over Canada.

But now Canada is the defending Olympic and world champs, which makes the last world championship look like an anomaly.

"(The 2005 tournament) is going to be a championship that is always going to be remembered, especially by us that were there, the girls that lost," Canada forward Jayna Hefford said. "We're never going to forget that feeling.

"But to come back here on home ice and play the way we did in front of so many great fans, it definitely makes us remember this one. And this one will be the last one in our memory now."

It was Hefford who turned the tide midway through the second period when she scored a controversial goal that proved to be the winner.

Hefford took a whack at a rebound in the U.S. crease, and even though it wasn't evident at first glance that the puck went in, Hefford and her teammates starting celebrating.

U.S. netminder Chanda Gunn shot up with a jolt and almost bumped into referee Joy Tottman, who didn't make a move one way or another.

Tottman instead decided to let instant replay decide it. And even though the TSN replays showed no evidence of the puck going in, the replay officials declared it a goal.

That seemed to take the wind of the U.S. sails, because five minutes later Canada forward Hayley Wickenheiser -- voted the tournament MVP and top forward -- fired a wrist shot over Gunn's left shoulder that made it 3-0 after two periods.

"We got a bounce," Canada head coach Melody Davidson said when asked what the difference was. "That second goal was huge."

OUTSHOT U.S.

U.S. coach Mark Johnson agreed, but he wasn't so certain Hefford actually scored.

"I haven't seen (a replay) that showed the puck went over the line," he said.

Danielle Goyette and Sarah Vaillancourt potted third-period goals for Canada, while Krissy Wendell spoiled St-Pierre's shutout bid midway through the frame.

Canada outshot the U.S. 34-22.

"We saved our best game for the final," Wickenheiser said. "We really dominated them."

Johnson said his young team just didn't do enough.

"We played OK tonight," he said, "but OK doesn't get it done."


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