11/10/2011 01:25 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Wickenheiser leads Canada to 3-1 victory over United States at Four Nations Cup

NYKOPINGS, Sweden - Hayley Wickenheiser scored the game-winning goal for Canada in a 3-1 victory over the United States on Thursday at the Four Nations Cup women's hockey tournament.

The veteran forward from Shaunavon, Sask., beat American goalie Jesse Vetter midway through the third period to help Canada record its second straight win at the Stora Hallen Arena. Caroline Ouellette of Montreal sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the dying seconds.

Head coach Dan Church said his team was rewarded for playing with a heightened intensity.

"I think that was the difference in the game," Church said. "It was just our commitment to winning those physical confrontations."

After a scoreless 20 minutes, Jayna Hefford of Kingston, Ont., got Canada on the board early in the second period. Jocelyne Lamoureux scored a short-handed goal for the 1-1 Americans.

Canada opened the tournament with a 5-0 victory over Finland on Wednesday. Canada wraps up preliminary round play against host Sweden on Saturday.

"It's great to win Round 1 against the U.S.," Church said. "I fully expect that we'll be playing them in the final on Sunday."

Canadian goaltender Charline Labonte of Boisbriand, Que., made 34 saves for the win.

"We got off to a good start and we didn't really give them too much," Wickenheiser said. "I think it was a nice first game (against the U.S.) for us with a pretty young group of defencemen and a young team overall."

Vetter made 24 saves in the 100th meeting between the longtime women's hockey rivals. Canada has a 61-38-1 edge.

"It was a disappointing loss, but our kids played hard," said U.S. head coach Katey Stone. "We learned a lot tonight and we'll be ready to go on Saturday (against Finland)."

Canada has won 12 gold and three silver medals in Four Nations and Three Nations events since the first tournament was played in 1996.