11/13/2011 01:14 EST | Updated 01/13/2012 05:12 EST

United States defeats Canada 4-3 in shootout in gold medal game at Four Nations

NYKOPING, Sweden - Canada settled for the silver medal at the Four Nations Cup women's hockey tournament after dropping a 4-3 decision to the United States on Sunday.

American goalie Jessie Vetter stopped Canadian forward Hayley Wickenheiser in the third round of the shootout to end it.

"We couldn't have had a better player to have the game on her stick," said Canadian head coach Dan Church. "Sometimes it goes that way in a shootout."

The Canadians had tied the game with just over four minutes left in regulation on Natalie Spooner's second goal of the period.

"I was really proud of their ability to be resilient and bounce back," Church said of his players. "Every time (the U.S.) got up, we battled back."

After a scoreless overtime session at the Stora Hallen Arena, both teams scored in the first round of the shootout and were stopped in the second round.

Hilary Knight then scored for the U.S. to put the pressure on Wickenheiser.

"To lose in a shootout is always disappointing," said Jayna Hefford of Kingston, Ont., who had Canada's lone shootout goal. "It's a tough way to lose but we're trying to take the positives out of this week."

Montreal native Caroline Ouellette had the other goal for Canada. Kelli Stack scored two goals for the United States and Jenny Potter added a single.

"I'm pleased with how our kids played," said American coach Katey Stone. "We had a lot of jump. We put a ton of pressure on in the overtime. This is just the beginning of the season and a good win to build on."

The U.S. fired 56 shots on Shannon Szabados of Edmonton while Vetter faced 35 shots in the American net.

"They're young and they're quick and they're really skilled," Hefford said. "We know we need to match that."

Wickenheiser, from Shaunavon, Sask., had two assists. Spooner, a Toronto native, also had an assist.

Canada added several young players to the lineup for the tournament. Church said it's always a good experience when you play Canada's archrival twice in one week.

"Evenly matched and sometimes you come out on the wrong side," Church said. "There's definitely things we need to improve. If we can do that moving forward we can look at this as a success in the long run."

The Canadians defeated the Americans 3-1 in the preliminary round.

"Ultimately our goal is to win a world championship and to take that back from the U.S.," Church said. "We want to point ourselves in that direction."

The 2012 IIHF women's world championship will be played April 7-14 in Burlington, Vt.

The Canadians have won 12 gold and four silver medals in Four Nations and Three Nations tournaments since the first in 1996.

It was the Americans' first gold medal since a 3-2 shootout win over Canada in 2008 at Lake Placid, N.Y. Canada won the tournament last year.