The world arrives

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

It took 23 gruelling hours, but Team Finland was still pumped about arriving in the land of Teemu Selanne and Teppo Numminen.

Finland is ranked fourth in the world heading into the World Women's Hockey Championship, which starts next week in Selkirk and Winnipeg, but at least one of its players is hoping the success of a pair of former Jets in the Manitoba capital will rub off.

"It's great to come to a city where we know that there has been a couple of really good Finnish players and it has been an important place for their career," bleary-eyed defenceman Emma Laaksonen said last night at the Winnipeg airport. "Just to come to Winnipeg and Canada in general, we know that people are crazy about hockey."

Head coach Hannu Saintula added that his team couldn't think of a better place to battle for women's hockey supremacy.

"With all this travelling the girls are maybe a little bit tired, but it's our pleasure to be here," he said. "This is a real hockey town, and we are a hockey team. That's why it's so nice to be here."

Saintula also said the Selanne-Numminen-Winnipeg connection is front and centre with many of his players.

"Everybody knows this city," he said. "That's why it's so nice ... it's very important for us to be over here. All the players have been waiting for this. They're very happy that they're here. They're very excited."

And even though the competition doesn't start for another week, shots are already being fired. Laaksonen was excited to hear that more fans showed up at the airport for Finland than their archrivals from Sweden earlier yesterday.

"We definitely have to compete about everything," Laaksonen said. "I'm sure our fans are better."

Just as Finland was hopping on the bus and heading to Beausejour, where their camp will be held for the next five days, Team Russia descended down the escalator.

Switzerland and China are slated to arrive today, and Germany is scheduled to fly into town on Friday.

The rural cities and towns that will be hosting the training camps are just as excited as the players. The folks in Beausejour, for example, were looking forward to Finland's arrival last night.

"We've never had an international team in our community before, so we don't really know what to expect," said Bruce Schade, a member of the Beausejour host committee. "But we're excited to have them here. Lots of people are talking about it and are asking about practices."

Team Finland will be conducting a clinic for Beausejour's girls' bantam team, and it will host a community luncheon on Friday.

The Finns also asked to do something unique during their stay in Beausejour, so they will be given square dancing lessons.

CAMPING OUT

United States

Site: Grand Forks, N.D.

Camp started: Wednesday

Kazakhstan

Site: Morden

Camp started: Saturday

Canada

Site: Dauphin

Camp started: Sunday

Finland

Site: Beausejour

Camp starts: Today

Sweden

Site: Grand Forks, N.D.

Camp starts: Today

Russia

Site: Steinbach

Camp starts: Today

China

Site: Altona

Camp starts: Tomorrow

Switzerland

Site: Winkler

Camp starts: Tomorrow

Germany

Site: Winnipeg

Camp starts: Saturday


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