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Monday, April 3, 2000
Canada opens with win over Japan
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. (CP) -- The gap between the have and have-nots in international women's hockey narrowed a tiny bit on Monday when Canada beat Japan 9-0 to open defence of its women's world hockey championship.
The Canadians, who are bigger, with better team and individual skills than the Japanese, had beaten Japan 18-0 at the 1990 worlds and 13-0 at the 1998 Olympics, so Monday's game was Japan's best result ever against Canada.
Canada was still dominant with a burst of three goals in the final five minutes, but the players acknowledged that the Japanese women's program is taking steps forward.
"I thought they played a better game than I've ever seen them play," said Canadian forward Hayley Wickenheiser, who led Canada with a goal and three assists.
"The times we've played them, they've run out of gas in the second period. Some of those players are playing more hockey in Canada and I think that's really helped."
Japanese goaltender Tomoko Fujimoto came into the game at the halfway mark and made several point blank saves before succumbing to the onslaught in the final minutes.
"Those three goals in the last five minutes, if we could have prevented that, I would give us a 100 per cent excellent grade," said Japanese head coach Hattanda Takayuki, through an interpreter.
Becky Kellar scored twice, and Cheryl Pounder, Jennifer Botterill, Tammy Lee Shewchuk, Jayna Hefford, Cassie Campbell and Lori Dupuis added one each in front of attendance listed at 610, though there appeared to be more than that at the Hershey Centre.
In other games, Finland opened the tournament with a 7-1 win over Russia; the U.S. pounded Germany 16-1; and China tied Sweden 1-1.
Canada meets China today in Kitchener, Ont., (7:30 p.m. EDT, TSN).
In Monday's lopsided game, it was difficult for Canada to maintain intensity for the full 60 minutes.
"When there's so few games to get ready for one or two big games, I think we have to be able to use every game to help us out and I don't think we did that too much tonight," said defenceman Geraldine Heaney, who leads Canada in international games-played with her 80th on Monday. "I think we were a little bit slow at the start, but we came on at the end."
The Japanese tried to make up for their size difference - they don't have a player over five-foot-six and 140 pounds - but were still outmuscled
"I thought we moved the puck quite well despite the five-man trap that Japan seemed to play against us," said Wickenheiser.
"I didn't think we played a great game. At times we had some really good shifts, three or four shifts in a row and then we'd kind of go into a lull again. It's something that we're going to have to work on, that consistency factor."
Pounder, playing in her home town, scored at 1:01 to record Canada's fastest goal to start a game at a world championship. Shewchuk scored when Canada was short-handed.
Sami Jo Small started in net for Canada, stopping all six shots she faced before giving way to Kim St-Pierre halfway through the game. St-Pierre stopped six shots for the combined shutout.
Japan's Risa Hayashi stopped 16 of 20 shots before Fujimoto took over.
St-Pierre is expected to start in net tonight against China with Small getting the nod Thursday against Sweden.
Canada has won five straight world championships.
China, which finished fifth in the world last year, traditionally plays chippy and has great goaltenders.
"They like to use their sticks so I would expect a lot of penalties," said Wickenheiser. "Their one goalie is called the Great Wall of China, so I think the key is the second shot, the rebound goal and just crashing the net."
Notes: Veteran defenceman Therese Brisson has been named captain of Team Canada for the second straight year. Wickenheiser and Campbell are assistant captains. ... The opening ceremonies, which included pyrotechnics, pushed the start of the Canada-Japan game back 35 minutes.
SummaryMISSISSAUGA, Ont. (CP) -- Women's world hockey championship Monday night:
1. Canada, Pounder (Wickenheiser) 1:01
2. Canada, Kellar (Drolet) 5:03
3. Canada, Kellar (Pounder, Wickenheiser) 8:19
Penalties -- Tamada Jpn (holding the stick) 2:51, Sato Jpn (holding) 8:37.
4. Canada, Botterill (Wickenheiser, Kellar) 2:19.
5. Canada, Wickenheiser (Botterill, Goyette) 11:36.
Penalties -- None.
6. Canada, Shewchuck (Ouellette) 8:11 (sh)
7. Canada, Hefford (Campbell) 15:40 (pp)
8. Canada, Campbell (Hefford, Benoit) 16:19
9. Canada, Dupuis (Pounder) 16:40
Penalties -- Naka Jpn (slashing) 4:38, Sunohara Cda (cross-checking) 7:41, Sudo Jpn (holding the stick) 15:27, Kondo (cross-checking) 19:56, Yoshimi (tripping) 19:56.
Shots on goal by
Power plays (goals-chances) -- Japan 0-1; Canada 1-6.
Referee -- Anne Haanpaa; Linesmen -- Johanna Suban, Guijie Meng.
Attendance -- 610.