February 19, 2006
Women won't take Swedes lightly
Gold-medal game a tough task: Botterill
PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

TURIN -- It was supposed to be the Olympic rubber match with the U.S., not to mention a shot at revenge for the last world championship.

Instead, Team Canada will face upset-minded Sweden in the women's hockey final here tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at the Palasport Arena.

Winnipeg's Jennifer Botterill, a 26-year-old forward playing in her third Olympic Games, couldn't care less if it was the Timbuktu Tigers -- she just wants another gold medal to go along with the one she won at Salt Lake City four years ago.

"We're looking at it like we have to play some team in that final, and for us to focus on our team and our preparation, bringing our best game, no matter who the opponent is," Botterill said.

If Canada does that, it shouldn't have a problem. All time against the Swedes, the Canucks are 44-0-1, with the lone tie coming in a pre- Olympic game in 1998.

This year's pre-Olympic results, though, suggest Sweden is getting closer. Some might say they've arrived after their shocking win over the U.S. in Friday's semifinal.

"I'm sure they're going to be gaining momentum," Botterill said. "We certainly know that."

While Canada handled the Swedes 8-1 in the round robin, the last pre-Olympic game between the two was a different story, with the Canadians squeaking out a 2-0 win.

The big difference in the round-robin game: Swedish goaltender Kim Martin didn't play.

Considered one of the top goalies on the planet, the 19-year-old Martin was sensational in the 3-2 shootout win over the Americans in the semi.

Botterill is already guaranteed at least a silver medal.

But she found out in Nagano in 1998 how empty that feels, when the Canadians dropped the first women's Olympic final to the U.S.

If they needed a reminder of what can go wrong, they sure got it from the heavily favoured Americans the other day.

"We know we need to be ready," Botterill said.