Canadian women win at Hockey Canada Cup
Last week, it was the Canadian men's hockey team in the spotlight at Olympic orientation camp in Calgary. This week, it is the women on display in Vancouver.
Team Canada opened the women's Hockey Canada Cup with a 7-0 whipping of Sweden in front of 2,335 fans at General Motors Place on Monday night.
The four-team tournament is a test event for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics next February, when GM Place will be renamed Canada Hockey Place for the duration of the Games.
Rebecca Johnston and captain Hayley Wickenheiser led Canada with two goals apiece, while Jayna Hefford and Gina Kingsbury each provided a goal and an assist.
Haley Irwin and Brianne Jenner both had two assists in support of goaltender Shannon Szabados, who posted six saves for the shutout.
"We always want to work on puck movement and play our game at our speed and not come down to the opponent or the tempo," Wickenheiser said. "We want to raise the tempo and play like that for 60 minutes, so consistency is really our challenge."
Johnston opened the scoring with two goals in the span of a minute midway through the first period, and Wickenheiser tallied a power-play goal to make it 3-0 with 82 seconds left.
After Catherine Ward notched a power-play goal with 14 seconds left in the second period, Wickenheiser scored 76 seconds into the third to put Canada up 5-0.
Kingsbury tallied 15 seconds later, then set up Hefford to complete the scoring with 6:04 remaining as the Canadians held a 17-0 edge in shots over the final 20 minutes.
"They weren't very tight in their zone or organized in anything," Wickenheiser said.
Kim Martin faced 41 shots for the Swedes, who hoped to build on their first-ever victory over Canada at last November's Four Nations Cup — 2-1 in overtime at Lake Placid, N.Y.
"That is not the best we have seen from them or the best we will see," Wickenheiser said.
Team Canada is icing a roster of 26 players at the Hockey Canada Cup, five more than it plans to carry next February in the Olympic Games.
Scratched from Monday's lineup were goaltender Charline Labonte (ankle), forwards Jennifer Wakefield (shoulder) and Sarah Vaillancourt and defencemen Delaney Collins (concussion), Becky Kellar and Tessa Bonhomme.
'They're pretty relentless'
Canada's next opponent is Finland, which erased a 2-0 first-period deficit with three unanswered goals to stun reigning two-time world champion United States 3-2.
"They're going to go at us hard tomorrow [Tuesday]," Canadian head coach Melody Davidson said. "They're going to have a chance to go 2-0 just like we do."
"Finland plays a pretty good trapping system and they're pretty relentless," Wickenheiser pointed out. "They will also be on an emotional high after beating the Americans, for sure.
"Finland's win just shows on any given day anything can happen. I wasn't surprised at all by their win because we have seen that before and we have a lot of respect for what Finland and Sweden can do.
"I still think it is a four-team tournament and that you cannot take anything for granted."
Michelle Karvinen and Saara Tuominen sparked the Finnish comeback with a goal and an assist apiece, and captain Emma Laaksonen notched the winning goal early in the third period.
"It was a really important win to us because, at the world championship in April, we just got killed by both the U.S. and Canada, so it was huge for our confidence," Laaksonen said. "This was a game where I felt we actually played in the game."
Kerry Weiland and Meghan Duggan were the only skaters to solve Finnish goaltender Noora Raty, who made 49 saves.
"We definitely had our chances and they buried theirs," said American netminder Jessie Vetter, who had 20 stops.
"There was a couple flukey ones and then they took advantage of a power play. I think we will be able to come back strong the next time we play them.
"They're a great team and they're improving every time. It will give us a little heads up that you cannot look past a team."
Finland had beaten the U.S. just once before, 1-0 in overtime at last year's worlds in Harbin, China.
"To score three goals is way better than just having one in the overtime," Laaksonen said. "We really were in the game a lot more."
With files from The Canadian Press