US faces Canada to open 2016 women’s world hockey tournament

KAMLOOPS, British Columbia (AP) The defending champion United States will open the 2016 women’s world hockey championships against host Canada.

The eight-country tournament opens March 28 at the Sandman Centre and concludes with the gold-medal game April 4 in Kamloops, British Columbia.

The Americans beat Canada 7-5 in the 2015 final in Malmo, Sweden, to claim a fifth world title over the past six tournaments.

Canada, Finland, Russia and the U.S. are in Group A while the Czech Republic, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland are in Group B.

The top two countries in Group A earn byes to the semifinals April 3. The bottom two take on the top two from Group B in the quarterfinals.

Canada has won 10 gold medals in the 16 women’s world championships, with the most recent in 2012 in Burlington, Vt.