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Women's Team Faces Canada in Group Play Finale

By Cameron Eickmeyer - USAHockey.com, 02/11/14, 11:45AM MST

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SOCHI, Russia - USA against Canada.

The matchup speaks for itself in the world of women's hockey. Make reference to the rivalry and images of gold medal glory, silver medal defeat, physical confrontation and national pride instantly flash through the mind's eye.

"There's no shortage of motivation, that's for sure," said U.S. Olympic Women's Team head coach Katey Stone. "We're going to attack it the same way with our daily routine and make sure we're going on all cylinders."

The familiarity helps the U.S. stay focused on the task at hand simply because they have been down this road so many times before. Players on both sides have spent their careers with their rival's roster on their mind, but even more so in the buildup to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Gams when the teams clashed seven times in three months.

"If you've been to any [exhibitions] or seen any on TV you would attest that they all meant something," said goaltender Jessie Vetter, who was named starter for Wednesday's game. "Every opportunity that we have to lace it up against each other, we want to come out and give our best."

At stake is first place in Group A and the higher seed in the semifinals. The top two teams in the group, which are guaranteed to be the U.S. and Canada, automatically advance to the semifinals while the bottom two in the group will face the top two teams in Group B in the quarterfinals.

While no hardware will be delivered on Wednesday at Shayba Arena, the game is far from worthless.

"There's a lot on the line and we're looking forward to it," Stone said. "The last thing anyone wants to be at an Olympic Games is complacent."

The matchup looks to be a clash of two prolific offenses against two stalwart defenses with world-class goaltenders. Canada has scored eight goals while not surrendering a single marker in its first two games, while the U.S. has outscored opponents by a 12-1 margin.

As with any USA and Canada matchup, an instant classic is expected.

"It's pretty much a spoken rivalry," said defenseman Megan Bozek. "We battle and there's blood, sweat and tears that go into every game."

The puck drops at 7:30 a.m. ET and will air live on NBCSN. Check Olympics.USAHockey.com this evening for full details on the game including line charts, game notes and live stream information.

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