Shannon Szabados, Monique Lamoureux

U.S.-Canada women’s hockey fight (video)

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In the first of six pre-Olympic exhibition meetings, Canada beat the U.S. women’s hockey team 3-2 in Burlington, Vt., on Saturday night.

The Americans played a lackluster first two periods, but the intensity picked up in the third as they rallied from a 3-0 deficit.

With a little over three minutes left, American forward Monique Lamoureux collided with Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados. This was a true meeting of giants.

Lamoureux was the leading scorer at the 2012 World Championships. Szabados is Canada’s No. 1 goalie who has set records playing for a men’s team back in Canada.

Canadian defenseman Courtney Birchard took exception to the collision and ran down Lamoureux against the boards and down onto the ice. Lamoureux’s twin sister, Jocelyne, quickly came to her aid. More players joined.

Fists flew. So did helmets, gloves and sticks.

This is nothing new for the U.S.-Canada rivalry. They’ve played in all but one Olympic gold-medal game dating to its first edition in 1998. has won the last three.

“We had a similar scrap in 2010, so I guess we have one every Olympic cycle to get it out of our system,” Canadian four-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser told The Associated Press. “It was kind of fun to see, and it brought a lot of intensity to another dog fight with these guys. There are few if any blowouts in this series.”

The image of Szabados getting bowled over by Lamoureux, regardless of intention, brought to mind a similar incident at the 2007 World Championships. There, a Canadian player knocked down U.S. goalie Chanda Gunn.

The player was Gillian Apps, the all-time penalty minute leader in the National Women’s Hockey League whose grandfather, Syl Apps, won the NHL’s Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play in 1942 and competed in the pole vault for Canada at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Future of greatest Olympic women’s hockey player uncertain

Olympic flame arrives in Brazil (video)

Brazil Olympic flame
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BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — The Brazilian torch relay for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics has kicked off with volleyball player Fabiana Claudino running the first leg after the torch was ignited by embattled President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff says “Brazil is ready to host the most successful Olympics in history.”

The Olympic flame arrived in a lantern on a flight from Switzerland a few hours earlier and was taken to the Planalto presidential palace.

The three-month relay across Brazil, ending at the opening ceremony on Aug. 5 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio, will involve 329 cities and 12,000 torchbearers. Rio organizers hope it will build enthusiasm for the games, which has lagged as Brazil battles bribery and corruption scandals and its deepest recession in decades.

The start of the relay comes just a week before the Brazilian senate is expected to suspend Rousseff for six months as it considers her impeachment.

MORE: Rio Olympic flame will live downtown — not in stadium

Michael Phelps left with one meet before Olympic Trials

Michael Phelps
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Michael Phelps could face his lightest-ever competition run-up to an Olympic Trials after opting not to swim at a meet in Atlanta next week.

Last week, Phelps noted one other scheduled meet before the U.S. Olympic Trials (June 26-July 3). That’s in Austin, Texas, from June 3-5.

In his previous four Olympic cycles, Phelps swam at least two meets in the final two months before the Olympic Trials, according to USA Swimming statistics.

Phelps’ training plan in May and June will be impacted by the impending birth of his first child. Fiancée Nicole Johnson is 36 weeks pregnant, according to her Instagram.

Without Phelps, the Atlanta meet is expected to include five-time 2015 World champion Katie Ledecky, 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin, Olympic 100m free champion Nathan Adrian and rising sprint freestyler Caeleb Dressel.

VIDEO: Phelps’ interview with Matt Lauer