Canucks staying focused on gold
BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

TURIN -- One step to glory.

And the Canadian women's hockey team won't take anything for granted.

As they prepared to face Finland in the semi-finals on Friday, Canadian players huddled around the television to watch the United States get stunned by Sweden 3-2 in a shootout.

Many believed that a gold-medal final tomorrow between Canada and the Americans was a given. But the Swedes changed that scenario.

Now, having pulled off one upset, can Sweden do it again?

Some members of the women's team spent yesterday taking in the Canadian men's stunning 2-0 loss to Switzerland, so if they needed a reminder that anything can happen, they got it.

"We're not taking anything for granted and we're going to be ready," Canadian forward Meaghan Agosta said yesterday. "We've been working toward winning the gold medal all year and we've got more work to do.

"We know it's going to be tough. We've been saying all along that Sweden has really improved and they showed that against the United States. We know that Sweden is going to be a tough opponent. We're focusing on getting the job done."

If you think Agosta is choosing her words carefully, you're right. No one wants to say anything that might fire up the opponent at this point.

Women's hockey has taken a lot of heat for being a two-team race between Canada and the U.S. The appearance of the Swedes in the final is good for the game and might make the IOC buy into the argument the game is making strides and needs patience.

But Canada knocked off the Swedes 8-1 during round-robin play and has outscored its opponents 42-1 in four games. Those are pretty heavy numbers and it's going to take a lot to knock the Canucks off their pedestal.

"We are going to be prepared because we know what a tough challenge this is for us," Canadian forward Jennifer Botterill said.

"We want to go out and win gold. That's all we're focused on right now. It's good that we have teams that can compete and we know the Swedes are getting better. This is going to be a tough task for us. We're not going to be taking them lightly."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com