Canadian U18 women's hockey team beats Finnish boys' team
Canada is the defending champion at world under-18 tournament
It doesn't count in the standings, but it was a timely tuneup for coach Jim Fetter and Canada's under-18 women's hockey team.
The Canadian squad earned a 4-3 shootout win in Kirkkonummi, Finland on Wednesday over C2 Pojat, a Finnish boys team that's the equivalent of a bantam-level squad in Canada.
It was the final exhibition game for Canada leading up to the world under-18 event. The Canadians will face Hungary in the tournament opener for both teams Saturday.
"It's all about confidence, especially in the female game, which is going to help leading into [world championship]," said Fetter. "Overall, I thought it was a great game, very good competition.
"They really challenged our girls. They were quick, they were strong so our girls were battle-tested. It was a great game for us to play. Kudos to the boys team. They were very classy, they played with a lot of sportsmanship but also played hard and really tested us."
The contest was a close one as Canada took a one-goal lead on three separate occasions, only to have C2 Pojat come back to tie the score each time, including early in the third to force overtime.
Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Hanna Bunton and Halli Krzyzaniak scored in regulation for Canada. After the scoreless extra session, Karly Heffernan and Brykaliuk both scored in the shootout while C2 Pojat was stopped on both of its attempts.
Kimberly Newell and Jessica Dodds shared goaltending duties for Canada, combining to stop 42 shots in regulation and overtime.
The Canadian team will practise Thursday, then take Friday off to do some sightseeing in and around Helsinki before facing Hungary.
The winning formula
Canada is the defending champion after winning last year's event in the Czech Republic. Fetter said the Canadian team's winning formula is a simple one.
"Our biggest thing is going to be our work ethic," he said. "That's something we harped on in the summer and have been harping on since we've been here ... it's all about good habits.
"Sometimes with their club programs [Canadian players] are able to get away from those things because they're the best players but here they're all the best players. That's the biggest thing we're going to harp on here and that's making sure they're doing the little things."
Fetter admits to knowing little about Hungary but does expect the Hungarians to play their best game against Canada.
"Absolutely and that's what we want," he said. "We want teams to come at us with their best because that's the only way we're going to continue to grow and develop and get better."