Finnish success good for women's hockey

JIM BENDER

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

Beware the Finns.

The Americans won't need reminding that Sweden upset them at last year's Olympics, preventing them from advancing to the final. Finland upset the Swedes to advance to the medal round of the 2007 Women's World Hockey Championship and will take on the Yankees -- who lost to Canada yesterday -- at the MTS Centre tonight to 7:30.

"That's great for female hockey," Canada forward Gillian Apps said yesterday. "It shows that there are teams creeping up, with what happened with Sweden last year and Finland upset them in this tournament. So it's really good for female hockey and great for the fans."

And the Canucks are not about to take the Finns for granted when they play them tomorrow.

"We have (today) to get ready for Finland (tomorrow) and after that we'll see who we're playing in the final if we win," Apps said. "And, if not, we'll get ready for the bronze."

A Finnish win today would advance them to the gold-medal match versus Canada.

HOLD ON: Canada coach Melody Davidson is hesitant to add a 10th team to this tournament as other coaches have suggested this week.

"It's only the second time we've had that three-pool system so, in the past, one loss was more forgiving," she said earlier this week. "For me, it doesn't matter how many teams are in the tournament but you have to be careful of the quality of the game, too. You always want to have good games and you want to have people challenging. So, to add a team or take away a team just to make it better in terms of where people might finish or the importance of one game, I'm not so sure that's the right thing to do.

"If the quality of a team coming in is good enough, that's great. If they're not, then do we continue with this format or go to a different format with the teams that are involved right now?"

FINN FINISHED: The Chinese hired a coach from Finland, Jorma Siitarinen, to help develop their fledgling women's hockey program. But his term with the team will soon be over.

"I had a translator when they hired me and they hired me and lived there for eight months," Siitarinen said. "I squeaked them up a little but next year, I am not there ... It was a very nice time and very interesting to work with the girls. But it's a different life than here or in Europe.

"I hope they are a little better but they need more players because there are no teams so we have no games and we have to play at this level."

ICE REUNION: When the Swiss play Sweden tomorrow, forward Kathrin Lehmann will be playing against five former clubmates on a Swedish team that won the national championship this past winter.

"Actually, it was funny because I wished all of them good luck before the Finnish game because I said I don't want to face you," said Lehmann, who led the Swiss into the second group. "It will be very special game for me, of course ... I'm really looking forward to it. It will be a huge challenge for us."


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