Given the options, such as watching "Barney" or Bay Area meteorologists forecasting yet more rain, even the most skeptical person might tune in to the Olympic women's gold medal game Tuesday morning.

But parents of toddlers be warned: This will be as vicious a morning show ever broadcast.The U.S. vs. Canada at sunrise will not be anything like Breakfast at Wimbledon. Breakfast at Waterloo, maybe.

Seven months of training and exhibition games culminate exactly how everybody thought it would - the two best teams in the world playing for the first Olympic women's hockey gold medal (7 a.m. delayed broadcast on CBS).

The game would have been just another nice, historical Olympic moment. But it has turned into a must-see event in Nagano because the hockey is played with such passion.

And the teams hate each other's guts.

"There's an intense dislike," was as far as Canadian Coach Shannon Miller would go after a wearying 7-4 loss to the U.S. on Saturday in the final preliminary game.

"I respect them," Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser said of the U.S. players. "I don't have to like them."

They know better than to resort to name-calling in the media; nobody needs any bulletin-board ammunition when the stakes are this high. But an incident on the ice after the game Saturday has emotions running higher than at any time in the seven-year rivalry.

After the teams shook hands - grudgingly going along with an Olympic tradition - U.S. forward Sandra Whyte exchanged words with Canadian forward Danielle Goyette. Tempers flared and shoving broke out.

That part is undisputed. The controversy is over what Whyte said. Miller claims Whyte took a shot at Goyette's father, who died last week of Alzheimer's disease. Whyte insisted Monday that she did no such thing, that her comments were pure hockey smack - not anything she'd care to repeat, but not a glib comment on somebody's dead father, either.

Goyette did not talk about the incident Sunday. Miller said Goyette is distraught. The U.S. team, from Cammi Granato to Coach Ben Smith, is backing Whyte and say they are upset that Miller would make up such a story.

Whatever was said, it's doubtful the situation will be resolved before the gold medal faceoff. Just another piece of wood thrown onto the fire.

"It's going to be physical just like tonight," U.S. defenseman Angela Ruggiero said. "Every time we face off it's like that."

A little history: Canada has won every major tournament in women's hockey history, including four world championships. The U.S. finished second every time. Nobody else is close.

Over the years the U.S. has closed the gap, and over the past five months the teams are 7-7 against each other, with more than half the games decided by just one goal.

Canada is ticked that their hold on the game is slipping to a what they see a team that relies more on physical domination and thuggery than skill. Miller shrugged off the loss Saturday even though her team blew a 4-1 lead in the final period.

"We did little to prepare for this game," she said, citing its irrelevancy in the tournament. "They clearly did a lot of rah-rah stuff before the game, because they came out hot and hammering. Their game plan was quite obvious - they wanted to intimidate us. . . . But they can't play any better than they did tonight."

The U.S. is ticked over that kind of smugness, and the fact that they haven't beaten Canada at a world competition.

"There was quite a bit of yapping out there," Smith said, and it's safe to say that includes Miller, who was shown on the arena's jumbo screen mouthing obscenities.

"We're lucky we have two days off after this one. But I expect the intensity will fire up again Tuesday."

There are no films to watch or systems to practice preparing for the gold medal game. These two teams have been tuning up for the gold medal game since last summer, usually against each other.

"We know everything about them," Wickenheiser said. "I think it's going to be a fun game to watch."

But parental guidance is suggested.