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Canadian hockey women to face tougher test against Finland

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CBC
2/9/2014 5:37:13 PM
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Now the Olympic hockey tournament begins for the Canadian women's hockey team.

And it won't be as easy as Saturday's one-sided laugher against Switzerland; a game in which Canada outshot its opponents 69-14 en route to a 5-0 victory.

Monday's game (10 a.m. ET) against Finland promises to be tougher. That said, the strategy for Canada remains the same according to Melodie Daoust.

“I think we need to keep shooting the puck like we did against Switzerland,” Daoust said. “And I think using our speed will be a big part of our game.”

Finland is a formidable opponent and is coming off a hard-fought 3-1 loss to the United States. The Finns have finished third or fourth at every Olympics and world championship they have competed in. They won the Olympic bronze medal in 1998 and 2010 in Vancouver.

American Jessie Vetter was complimentary of Team Finland after she and her teammates won Saturday.

“It's not easy playing a team like Finland,” Vetter said. They are a tough team with a goaltender who keeps them in the game. I'm just happy we won the opening match.”

Finnish goalie has game

The Finnish goaltender, Noora Raty, is capable of winning games on her own. The 24-year-old, who has been with the national team since she was 15 and played four years at the University of Minnesota, shut out the United States 1-0 at the 2008 world championship.

Canada knows all about coming up against a hot goaltender. Swiss stopper Florence Schelling played brilliantly Saturday, making 64 saves as Team Canada held a huge territorial edge in play, but were unable to score on many of their chances. It likely won't be any easier against Raty.

“We know we have to be better as we move forward,” said Canadian veteran Hayley Wickenheiser. “But these countries are getting harder to play against. The difference between the countries is narrowing, but it comes down to fitness and conditioning, and the fact that we are able to train and play together more.”

Vetter had some words of advice for Team Canada about facing the Finns.

“You've got to be mentally in it,” Vetter said. “Finland is a great side who play great transitions and you need to make those saves. Their conditioning and speed makes them a team you can't look past.”

Rebecca Johnston paced Canada with a goal and two assists against Switzerland. Wickenheiser scored a short-handed goal and other singles went to Jocelyne Larocque, Tara Watchorn and Marie-Philip Poulin.

Hayley Wickenheiser (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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