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The Globe and Mail

U.S. bests Canada at 12 Nations women's hockey tournament

Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser battles for position with USA's Meghan Duggan while USA's Jessie Vetter makes a save at the Vancouver Olympics.

Peter Power

Canada's easy ride ended at the 12 Nations women's hockey tournament Sunday.

After winning its first three games by blow-out margins, Canada suffered its first loss when the United States exploded for four goals in the second period to win 4-0.

Meghan Duggan, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Hilary Knight and Lisa Chesson each scored for the world champion U.S. (4-0).

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"Sometimes the game is about momentum and they definitely had the momentum early and built on that in the second period," said Canada head coach Dan Church.

"I feel like we were able to steal a little bit of that in the third period. We just weren't able to have any sustained pressure in their zone and get a goal. But you know, credit to them."

Goaltender Christina Kessler made 39 saves as Canada (3-1) suffered its first loss of the tournament. Molly Schaus stopped 17 shots in the American net.

Church said Kessler was responsible for helping keep Canada in the game.

"Overall I think she performed well," he said. "She was solid. She didn't panic. She had a good presence in the net. So, happy with her level of play."

Canada had won the first three games of the tournament by a score of 41-1 but ran into a wall against the Americans.

They won't have to wait long to face the U.S. again — both teams play an exhibition match Monday.

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"The players are disappointed. I'm sure that they are going to come back tomorrow with a great effort," said Church.

The 12 Nations is a new tournament on the women's hockey schedule designed to close the large gaps in skill between countries by providing more competitive opportunities.

It's hoped federations will put more resources into female hockey and that players will be motivated to improve their skills.

Eight countries — Canada, the U.S., Finland, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Slovakia and Japan — are facing each other in Finland, while France, Germany, Norway and the Czech Republic are playing in a mini-tournament simultaneously in Courcheval, France.

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