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U.S. women beat China, 12-1, in Olympic hockey opener

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Three decades after he scored two goals in the Miracle on Ice, U.S. women's coach Mark Johnson just wanted a comfortable win to celebrate his return to Olympic hockey.

Jenny Potter scored three goals in the first 22 minutes while becoming the leading scorer in U.S. Olympic history as the Americans opened the preliminary round of the women's tournament with a 12-1 romp over China yesterday.

Johnson didn't want an embarrassment for their Chinese opponents, and that's why the Americans posted a blowout that stopped short of a wholesale beatdown.

Meghan Duggan scored twice for the Americans, who got the expected result when a seasoned power takes on a developing team.

China has never beaten the United States in 20 tries over nearly two decades, losing by an identical score in Salt Lake City.

Yet the Americans didn't match Canada's 18-0 rout of Slovakia on Saturday, in part because they cycled the puck and remained patient after taking a 7-0 lead early in the second period.

With an all-out offensive blitz at UBC Thunderbird Arena, the Americans might have been able to run up the score in pursuit of a huge goal differential - but without criticizing Canada, they chose not to do it.

"I get uncomfortable when the score gets too lopsided," Johnson said. "I've been on the other end of that too many times. It can be a difficult balancing act. You certainly want to respect your opponent and the hard work they did to get here. At some point it becomes uncomfortable, so you try to do the things that make the team stronger, get something out of the game and move on."

Potter scored five points and notched her first Olympic hat trick. Fellow four-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero scored the first goal in front of a crowd including Vice President Joe Biden, Salt Lake City Games executive Mitt Romney and 1980 U.S. hockey captain Mike Eruzione.

China got its own minor miracle on ice with 2:21 left when Jin Fengling scored on a power play. Jin triumphantly slapped her stick on the ice, and the sympathetic crowd loved it.

"I think we did a good job playing our game but at the same time keeping sportsmanship in mind," said U.S. captain Natalie Darwitz, who had a goal and two assists. "You don't want to run up the score."

New York Sports