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Canada, USA reach semifinals

Feb. 19, 2002 at 11:15 PM   |   Comments

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The Canadian women's hockey team survived a scare in the Olympic semifinals Tuesday to set up a gold-medal game with the United States.

The Canadian men, meanwhile, have plenty to do to follow in the women's footsteps.

"I know the whole world wants us to lose, except Canada and Canadian fans," said Canadian Olympic general manager Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky and the Canadian team will be under intense pressure Wednesday in the fourth and final quarterfinal game of the day. Sweden will open the big day of Olympic hockey by taking on Belarus, the Czech Republic will face Russia and the United States will play Germany. Wednesday's losers will fall out of medal contention.

Canada won only one of its three round-robin games and even then had to struggle to get past Germany, 3-2. All that has left Gretzky in something of a foul mood.

"There should have been two or three suspensions," he said, referring to the double attack on Canada's Theo Fleury late in the Canada's 3-3 tie with the Czech Republic. Martin Skoula poked his stick at Fleury and when Fleury got up and hit back, Roman Hamrlik cross checked him.

"And I'm fed up with all of this American propaganda," he said. "It's absolutely American propaganda that our players are unhappy with (Coach Pat) Quinn. What I heard about the hockey team is untrue.

"The last straw was the rumor that Mario (Lemieux) went home. Each time I came into the rink, I heard a new rumor out of our locker room and I didn't like it."

In the women's semifinals Tuesday, Canada found itself behind by a goal going into the final period and then pulled away for a 7-3 victory over Finland.

The United States got two goals from Cammi Granato en route to a 4-0 victory over Sweden.

The Swedes, even when they fell behind, played almost totally defensive hockey. They stacked their defense in front of the goal and blocked shot after shot. But Sweden did little to threaten the United States goal, getting off just 10 shots.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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