Canada trounces Sweden

Donna Spencer

, Last Updated: 1:03 AM ET

KITCHENER, Ont. (CP) - The Canadian women's hockey team weathered an early storm from the Swedes and Vicki Sunohara scored a pair of goals in a 7-0 whistle-filled victory at the Four Nations Cup on Wednesday.

It marked the first meeting between the two clubs since Canada beat Sweden 4-1 for the gold medal at the Olympic Games in February. Sunohara, a veteran forward from Toronto, scored one of the prettiest goals of her long career and added a second later in a game that included 30 minor penalties.

Canada scored three power-play goals on 17 chances and held the Swedes scoreless on 13 opportunities with a man advantage.

The International Ice Hockey Federation has phased in the NHL's more stringent standard on obstruction fouls and the women are experiencing the same adjustment that the NHL went through at this time last season.

But Swedish coach Peter Elander was concerned that a game with so many whistles would sour the spectators on it.

"I'm not sure if this product is going to sell when they call penalties for almost everything," he said. "The girls hesitate to go in and battle for the puck because they don't know if they are going to (take a penalty).

"If I was in the stands and paid $25 bucks, maybe I would spend my money on other things."

Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., had a goal and two assists and Canada also got goals from Gillian Apps of Unionville, Ont., Colleen Sostorics of Kennedy, Sask., Sarah Vaillancourt of Sherbrooke, Que., and captain Hayley Wickenheiser of Shaunavon, Sask.

Vaillancourt's goal, Canada's seventh of the game, came short-handed.

Goaltender Kim St. Pierre of Chateauguay, Que., earned Canada's second straight shutout by stopping 17 shots in front of a lively crowd of 4,965 that didn't seem to mind the penalty-box parade.

They made the most of their Go Canada noisemakers they had picked up on their way into the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium and did a few rounds of the wave after Canada's sixth goal of the game.

The U.S. defeated Finland 5-2 earlier Wednesday, putting the U.S. at 1-1 and the Finns at 0-2. All teams have Thursday off and the round-robin concludes Friday with Canada (2-0) against Finland and the Americans taking on the Swedes (1-1). The final and third-place games are Saturday.

The Swedes caught Canada off guard in the first period with an aggressive forecheck as they sent three skaters into the Canadian zone. It was Canada getting disciplined by the referee early and they fell behind in shots on goal during the first 15 minutes.

They rallied with late goals by Agosta and Apps in the first period and were more mindful of their sticks for the remainder of the game. Canada outshot Sweden 56-17.

"I thought we showed a lot of character in terms of how hard they came at us early on," Canadian head coach Melody Davidson said. "We kind of sat back, looked at it and took a few penalties.

"Kim makes those saves in the first 10 minutes, we get our bearings and we put one in and again the veteran leadership, you put Wickenheiser's line out there and we put another one in."

Sweden went with 18-year-old Sara Grahn in goal and saved Olympic hero Kim Martin for Friday's game against the Americans. The Swedes upset the U.S. in the semifinal at the Games.

But the Canadians figured out early that Grahn was vulnerable when they went upstairs on her. On Sunohara's first goal that put Canada up 3-0, she was on one leg battling for the puck in front of the net when she snapped a backhand over Grahn's shoulder.

"I've been trying to work on my backhand a little bit, but that was lucky," Sunohara said.

Davidson didn't take issue with the way the game was called because she says she was coaching under that standard three years ago at Cornell when the NCCA cracked down on stick fouls.

"I thought there could have been far more penalties to Sweden, especially the second and third period," she said. "Any time we took a point shot, they could have had a penalty because we were working so hard in front of the net, you couldn't handle us."

CP Player of the Game - Vicki Sunohara. Canada's alternate captain scored a beautiful goal for Canada's third of the game and added another for her country's sixth.

Notes - Sunohara's goals were the 53rd and 54th career for the national team . . . Defenceman Bobbi Jo Slusar got an assist in her debut with the Canadian team . . . The Swedes have never beaten Canada and the closest they've come is a 1-1 tie in a pre-Olympic exhibition game in 1998.


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