Team USA loses to Canada at Spokane Arena - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

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Team USA loses to Canada at Spokane Arena

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SPOKANE, Wash. - The U.S. Women's National Team lost to Canada, 5-2 Friday night in the third Qwest Tour game.  The USA hosted rival Canada at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena Friday night.

The last time the United States women's hockey team played in Spokane was in 2002. 

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 The USA women's hockey team prepairs for Friday's game at Spokane Arena (Photo: KHQ, SWX)

Friday night's game was the third one of the Qwest Tour, the first of three tour meetings between the two teams and the fourth of potentially ten pre-Olympic matches.

"They like to play the underdog role, we like to play the underdog role," said defenseman Angela Ruggiero in pre-game news conference in Spokane on Thursday. "For any competitor it's easier because you're saying you have to work for it."

Canada is ranked No. 1 going into the Olympics, but the U.S. is ranked No. 1 in the world, fueling a rivalry that has escalated over the years.

"It's intense, it's competitive and it's not always full of smiling faces at each other," said forward Julie Chu.  "But we go out there and battle hard."

"Just having people on Team USA supporting you I think helps anyone - when you're able to represent your country on your home turf," said Ruggiero.  "This is the closest we'll get to Vancouver and this is the biggest crowd we'll play in front of, closest to the site that we'll be playing in."

The U.S. also recently saw their winning streak against Canada broken when they lost 1-3 in a game played in Victoria, B.C. on Oct. 5. Players said they hope to get back to winning, especially since some of them had family and friends in the stands on Friday. 

Among those players with support in the stands, perhaps no one else had more than

Karen Thatcher (F, Team USA)

Karen Thatcher from Blaine, Wash.  Friday's game was the first one the young forward has played in her home state while part of Team USA.  A sizeable contingent of Thatcher fans were a part of the crowd.

"I'm absolutely ecstatic to be able to play the sport I love in a place that I love in front of friends and family and my support system here," said Thatcher.  "I just can't wait.  It's a really special opportunity, a great opponent and it should be great game."

After the Qwest tour, Canada and the USA are scheduled to meet each other in Finland at the Women's Four Nations Cup in early November.  After that, they'll have four consecutive games in December and early January.
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