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Women's World Hockey Championships: U.S. team surprised by Finnish

Minnesota Duluth sophomore defender Heidi Pelttari made history Tuesday as Finland defeated the United States 1-0 in overtime in a battle between unbeatens at the World Women's Hockey Championships in Harbin, China.

Minnesota Duluth sophomore defender Heidi Pelttari made history Tuesday as Finland defeated the United States 1-0 in overtime in a battle between unbeatens at the World Women's Hockey Championships in Harbin, China.

The goal, 3:42 into overtime, assured Finland's first win over the U.S. in a World Championships. While the Americans seemed to have the upper hand through much of the game, Finnish goaltender Noora Raty had a solid performance, stopping 30 shots.

Assisting on the winning goal were former UMD players Nora Tallus and Mari Pehkonen.

"We have never been able to pull off a win off against the Americans, and it has to be said that our goaltender made a big difference," Finnish captain Emma Laaksonen told the IIHF Web site. "We also had the confidence through the entire game."

In the four-on-four overtime, the U.S. put up three shots before getting whistled for a pair of penalties at the 1:54 mark. During a delayed call on Gigi Marvin of Warroad, Minn., for hooking, a mistake during a line change resulted in five U.S. players on the ice as Finland skated the puck into the U.S. zone. Forty-eight seconds into the two-man advantage, Pelttari took a slap shot from the top of the slot that deflected through a screened Jessie Vetter's legs.

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Vetter, a University of Wisconsin goalie, made 14 saves for the game.

"I'm not sure that I would call the loss a shock," said U.S. captain Julie Chu, a UMD assistant coach. "Finland is a great team. It's not the same game that it was five or 10 years ago. You have more teams that are playing at a high level."

While the win was monumental for Finland, it did little to secure a spot in the gold medal game. Should the U.S. beat Canada, and the Finns lose to the Canadians, the Americans would still skate in the title game.

Pool play ends Saturday.

* There was a second upset Tuesday as Switzerland defeated Sweden 4-3 on Kathrin Lehmann's shootout goal. It was Switzerland's first win over Sweden in a World Championships. UMD sophomore Kim Martin was Sweden's goalie, while the referee was Leah Wrazidlo of Duluth.

"This is the biggest win in the history of Swiss women's hockey," said coach Rene Kammerer. "This is an incredible thing. We went in believing we had a chance. We just kept on believing."

As with the early game, the win for the Swiss doesn't secure much in terms of final group placement. With two points, Switzerland is in good position, but Sweden or Russia could still take the top spot depending on the outcome of the next two days of action.

* With the results of the preliminary round, the automatic berths to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are Canada, United States, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia. The two remaining spots will be determined through two qualification tournaments in 2009.

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