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Pink-clad Canadians to face rival U.S. at women's world hockey championship

Canada will wear pink jerseys in Saturday's game against defending champion U.S. at the women's world hockey championship.

They want to recognize the Canadian team that wore pink jerseys and won the first women's world hockey championship in Ottawa in 1990.

Sunohara played for that team at 19, so she's in the unique position of playing in honour of herself.

"When you look at it, it really did pave the way for a lot of women and girls to play hockey," said Sunohara, now 36, on Friday.

The current Canadian team held a 1990 party during training camp in Dauphin, Man., so Sunohara dusted off her blue and pink track suit and tried to get some volume in her straight hair.

"Have you seen the picture? Perms were in back then," said Sunohara.

This is the 10th women's world hockey championship and Sunohara is playing in her eighth.

There will be a lot of pre-game hoopla Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET) as the majority of that 1990 team will have an on-ice reunion before the puck drops.

The pink jerseys from Saturday's game, which will be auctioned off on ebay to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, will be a novelty.

But the Canadian team doesn't want to lose sight of the magnitude of the game because it is against archrival U.S. The two countries have a long and emotional history in women's hockey.

U.S. captain Krissy Wendell is prepared for a pink-clad Canadian opposition.

"That's kind of cool," Wendell said. "I like that."

"I assume we'll be wearing white then tomorrow."

Canada, the U.S. and Finland, 2-0, finished first in their respective groups and thus play each other in a mini round-robin.

The countries with the two best records meet in Tuesday's final.

The third-place team drops to the bronze-medal game to face the winner of the playoff between group runners-up Sweden, Switzerland and China, who were all 1-1.

Canada plays Finland on Monday (8:30 p.m. ET). All teams had Friday off.

The challenge for the U.S. is to re-establish itself as a team that can beat Canada.

The two countries didn't meet at least year's Olympics because the Americans were upset by the Swedes in the semifinal, marking the first time the U.S. didn't reach an Olympic or world championship final.

The U.S. beat Canada in a shootout to win the 2005 world championship final after Canada had won the previous eight.

Canada is 10-2 against the U.S. in a dozen meetings since the 2005 final.

Canada was still on an Olympic high and the Americans had undergone a revamping when they met in November at the Four Nations Cup in Kitchener, Ont., where Canada beat them twice.

Canada's last loss to the U.S. was a 5-3 defeat in Winnipeg on Jan. 1, 2006.

While Canada has retained head coach Melody Davidson and most of its players from the Olympic team, the U.S. has been rebuilding and hired the University of Wisconsin's Mark Johnson, son of former NHL coach (Badger) Bob Johnson, last summer as the team's head coach.

American goaltending and the defence corps is experienced, but there has been turnover at forward. The U.S. will likely lean on two forward lines Saturday.

"I'm not a big line-matching coach and watching Mark in his league, he is a line-matching coach," Davidson said. "It'll be interesting, a little game of chess."

"I'm real confident in our team from lines one to four."

When Canada plays the U.S., the subplot is who will start in goal for Canada. Davidson wasn't saying Friday whether it would be Charline Labonte and Kim St. Pierre.

After facing 17 and five shots respectively in their starts, Labonte and St. Pierre said Friday they were jealous watching their German counterparts face 70 in an 8-0 loss to Canada on Thursday. They both want the challenge of facing the U.S.

"Every time we play them is a big game," St. Pierre said. "Sweden and Finland are coming along, but playing the U.S. is different, very different."

Eight Canadians are club or college teammates with seven of the American players.



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