Crank up volume: Nats

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

The Canadian women's hockey team is hoping to get an assist from a large MTS Centre crowd this afternoon.

And if you drank too much last night and are attending today's game, you might want to bring some Aspirin.

Canada will battle the U.S. in an Olympic tune-up game at Winnipeg's downtown arena. The contest, which begins at 2:30 p.m., is expected to attract more than 8,000 spectators.

Final meeting

Canada is 8-1 against the U.S. since September, including a 4-2 win in St. Paul, Minn., on Friday night, and would love to knock off their arch rivals one last time in the final meeting between the teams before next month's Winter Olympics.

Canadian head coach Mel Davidson hopes the crowd this afternoon will be L-O-U-D loud.

"The crowd and the turnout in Winnipeg is crucial for us," Davidson said following Friday night's win. "The more times you can replicate the energy and the noise that will be at the Olympics, the better off we are to be able to perform in that environment.

"That's what we really hope happens in Winnipeg, because we need that. That'll be the last time we have that opportunity before the Olympics. These girls perform in that environment, so we hope to have a great crowd."

Winnipeg's Jennifer Botterill, a nine-year veteran of the national squad, will play in her hometown this afternoon for the first time since another pre-Olympic exhibition match in 1997.

She expects to have more than 40 family members and close friends contributing to the boisterous atmosphere.

"I'm sure I'm going to know a lot more there, too," Botterill said. "Anywhere you go in Winnipeg you run into people you know.

"I'm really excited about it. Playing in front of family and friends is always really special."

Botterill, who is playing on a line with Jayna Hefford and Danielle Goyette, wouldn't even entertain the thought of losing to the Americans today and giving them a mental edge going into the Olympics.

"We certainly are really focused on bringing our best performance every time we play them," she said.

Botterill didn't have any points Friday night, but she hopes the silver lining from that will reveal itself today.

"I'm saving it, I guess, for the Winnipeg game," she said with a laugh.


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