US women shell Sweden in hockey |

US women shell Sweden in hockey

AP Sports Writer
USA's forward Karen Thatcher celebrates a goal that scored past Sweden's goalie Kim Martin in the second period of a women's semifinal round ice hockey game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Kim Martin couldn’t match her star turn in the Olympics of four years ago.

Sweden’s conqueror of the U.S. women’s hockey team in the Turin Games let in soft goals and looked bewildered Monday while being hounded by Americans in front of the net all afternoon, and the U.S. rolled to a 9-1 victory to reach the gold-medal game of these Olympics.

The teenage star in 2006 as the first goalie to defeat the U.S. or Canada in international women’s play, then a collegiate star at Minnesota-Duluth, has allowed 19 goals in three games in Vancouver.

She had allowed 12 goals over six games of her two previous Olympics.

“It feels like it hasn’t bounced my way in these Olympics,” Martin said softly after Monday’s rout. “It wasn’t my best game, but we’ll regroup for the bronze-medal game.”

Martin stopped all 37 of the Americans’ shots in 2006, including each in a shootout, in the historic upset. She allowed seven goals in three games as Sweden earned the silver medal four years ago. And she gave up five goals in three games while winning bronze in 2002 as the youngest goaltender player in women’s Olympics history, just over 15 years old.

Monday, she didn’t appear ready for this stage.

Playing six months following a return from knee surgery, her troubles began with the Americans’ first shot – a routine one that trickled up Martin’s arm and almost went in the net. Then Kelli Stack sent a wrist shot that Martin didn’t see off the top of the goalie’s helmet. The slap echoed through the arena.

Minutes later, the Americans scored twice in 69 seconds to start the onslaught. The second goal came when the U.S. poked the puck out of Martin’s pads, and Meghan Duggan flipped it over a prone Martin into the net.

In the second period, Martin was slow getting across the crease before Angela Ruggiero scored on a shot that the goalie let go over her glove, which was near her body instead of extended. Her worst goal was Caitlin Cahow’s casual flip from near the blue line. That ticked in off the inside of Martin’s glove to make it 4-0.

“Anytime you play against her, you want to put as many shots on net as you can,” Cahow said. “Fortunately, we were able to solve her.”

A day after saying controlling rebounds would be key, Martin kept allowing them to get away. She kicked one directly to Karen Thatcher, which ended up in an open net to make it 5-1.

When the second period ended, the Swedes came up to Martin on the ice and tapped her pads with their sticks for encouragement. An assistant coach patted Martin on the back.

By the time Monique Lamoureux scored the second of her three goals, when Martin was screened by a teammate 6 minutes into the third period, Martin was reduced to shrugging her shoulders and opening her palms to the arena’s roof as if to say, “What can I do?”

“She didn’t get too much help on the rebounds,” Sweden coach Peter Elander said. “It was a hard game for Kim. She got a lot of traffic in front of the net.

“She’s a brilliant goalie. Sometimes, everything clicks. And sometimes, little things happen.”

Martin wasn’t overly impressed with herself – or with the Americans, who have outscored their opponents 40-2 in Vancouver.

“I don’t think they are much better,” Martin said of this U.S. team, compared to the one she beat in ’06. “Younger. Probably more energy. Better individual play. But they were a good team four years ago.

“We just had a good game then. And got lucky.”

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