Canada comes up big

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

DAUPHIN -- Last night marked the first time a Manitoba AAA midget boys team squared off with Team Canada.

And if members of the Central Plains Capitals thought they were in for a recreational skate with this country's best female hockey players, they received a rather rude awakening.

From the opening face-off to the final buzzer, Team Canada played with more purpose, more hustle and teamwork in spades, rolling to a 9-1 victory before 901 fans at Credit Union Place in Dauphin.

"I thought it'd be a little bit closer," Central Plains captain Ryan Audino, a little sheepishly. "They move the puck extremely well. And they're really quick. That's a great hockey club."

The stakes weren't high for the Capitals, as they've already been eliminated from league playoffs.

They're considerably higher for Canada, preparing for the Women's World Championship, April 3-10, in Winnipeg and Selkirk.

Playing against midget-aged boys is nothing new for the women, who prepared for last year's Olympic Games with an extensive schedule against AAA teams in Alberta.

They've always won their share, but last night's game had to be the most lopsided.

If the goal going in was to discover their game legs, the Canucks did that, out-shooting the Caps 19-6 in the first period, 51-20 overall.

"People might make fun of us a little bit," Audino said. "But let's see them lace it up and go out there. They're the national team."

Canadian head coach Melody Davidson is keeping a close eye on her goaltenders, and veteran Kim St-Pierre did nothing to hurt her chances of being the No. 1 stopper.

While not tested often, St-Pierre did come up big when she had to, although one stop must have left Davidson holding her breath.

Central Plains captain Ryan Audino crashed into St-Pierre during a second-period rush, leaving the 28-year-old, two-time Olympian in obvious pain.

She eventually shook it off and stayed in the game.

Winnipeg's Jennifer Botterill and Meghan Agosta paced Canada with two goals each, while Gillian Ferrari, rookie Tessa Bonhomme, Delaney Collins of Pilot Mound, Gina Kingsbury and Gillian Apps added singles.

Audino scored the only goal for the Caps.

Canada defenceman Carla McLeod is ill and sat out last night's game. She hasn't been around practice the last two days, either.


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