SOCHI, Russia -- Dillon Labbe had the lone goal for Canada's under-18 hockey team in a 4-1 exhibition loss to the United States on Sunday.
Canadian team coach Don Hay took a philosophical approach to the game, his club's first leading up to the world under-18 hockey championship slated to begin later this month.
"We did some good things in spurts," he said. "We will get better as we go on."
Hay, the 59-year-old coach of the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants, certainly knows what it takes to succeed on the ice. He led Canada to a world junior gold medal in 1995 and bronze in 2012.
The two-time WHL coach of the year has also won Memorial Cup titles with Kamloops (1994-95) and Vancouver (2007). He also spent time as a head coach in the NHL with Calgary and Phoenix.
Hay was pleased with the play of goaltenders Spencer Martin and Philippe Desrosiers. Martin surrendered two goals over the first two periods while Desrosiers gave up two in the third.
Hay said while the Canadian team's overall play needs improvement, that should come the more the squad practises and plays together heading into the tournament.
"Our (play) with and without the puck has to get better," he said. "We just have to continue to work hard, just continue to get better.
"This is going to be a learning process and this is one step in that process."
Canada trailed 1-0 after the first and 2-0 heading into the third against the Americans, who've won the world under-18 event the last four years and seven times since 2002.
Canada finished 0-for-3 on the power play while the Americans were 1-for-4.
Canada will have its final exhibition game Tuesday against the Czech Republic before opening the world under-18 tournament Thursday against Slovakia. The Canadians will also face Germany, Sweden and Switzerland in preliminary round action.