U.S. women rout Germany 10-0 in hockey openerPosted: Tuesday February 12, 2002 3:55 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 12, 2002 6:26 PM
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) -- Natalie Darwitz is no newcomer when it comes to finding the net.
The smallest and second-youngest player on the U.S. hockey team, Darwitz scored twice in her Olympic debut Tuesday as the Americans opened with a 10-0 victory over Germany.
"I was a little bit nervous before the game, but once I got on the ice and into my comfort zone, everything was OK," she said. "All of us are the same: Once we get on the ice, we feel at home."
Darwitz still hasn't graduated from high school, but the 18-year-old has been scoring against older players for years. She had 85 goals playing for Eagan (Minn.) High School in 1996-97; at the time, she was only in seventh grade.
At 15, she became the youngest player ever to make the U.S. national team, and she had 17 goals and 21 assists in the team's pre-Olympic tour this year.
Darwitz scored 1:44 into the second and again at the 7:10 mark of the period to spark a three-goal outburst over a span of 1:43. Chris Bailey scored 23 seconds after Darwitz and Karyn Bye 80 seconds after that to make it 6-0 and chase Stephanie Wartosch-Kurten from the goal.
Julie Chu, who along with Darwitz is one of three teenagers and six first-time Olympians on the team, had a goal and an assist.
"Birthdays aren't important. Physical stature isn't important," coach Ben Smith said. "If you have the skills, you can play. ... That's why they're out there."
Bye had two goals and two assists, and Cammi Granato had one of each for the Americans, who play China on Thursday. Sara DeCosta stopped all eight of Germany's shots.
German coach Rainer Nittel has said his team is 10 years away from being able to compete with the United States. 'The little difference between us and the Americans is that have another 45,000 players' in girls' hockey to choose from, he said.
For Germany, making its first appearance in the Olympic women's tournament, the loss allows them to concentrate on games against Finland and China. The Germans would need at least a win and a tie to advance to the medal round.
The preliminary round is expected to be just that for the Americans, who went 31-0 on the pre-Olympic tour and have never lost a game to anyone but Canada. Canada opened Group A on Monday with a 7-0 victory over Kazakhstan.
Chu scored eight minutes into the third, then assisted on A.J. Mleczko's goal 1:17 later to make it 10-0. Wartosch-Kurten stopped 26 of 32 shots and Esther Thyssen stopped 21 of 25 for Germany.
The Americans opened the scoring at 6:16 of the first period when Jenny Potter picked up the puck behind the net and backhanded it to Bye, who chipped it between the goalie's legs.
Bye had an assist when Baker scored at 15:05 of the first to make it 2-0. Baker shot from the left of the net, got the rebound, took the puck around the back of the net and then put it off the goalie's right leg and just over the goal line.
Darwitz took a pass from Granato and skated in from right circle, wristing it past the goalie at 1:44 of the second. Then the United States really broke things open.
Darwitz passed it to herself off the boards to get by a defender at the blue line, then opted not to pass to Krissy Wendell before wristing into the far corner of net. Bailey and Bye scored in quick succession before the German goaltender change.
Thyssen held the Americans for the rest of the second, but couldn't do the same in the third.