SPORTS

Canadian under-18 women's team tunes up for world event with exhibition win

12/29/2011 07:49 EST | Updated 02/28/2012 05:12 EST
PREROV, Czech Republic - Canada's under-18 women's hockey team tuned up for the upcoming world championship with a convincing exhibition win Thursday.

The Canadian squad earned a 5-1 win over a Czech team made up of 15- and 16-year-old boys. The contest was the team's lone exhibition before opening the world championship Saturday against Switzerland.

Assistant coach Jim Fetter said earning a convincing win was certainly valuable to his team's psyche, but it was just as important for the squad to achieve most of what it wanted to on the ice.

"We arrived here two days ago so we were kind of fighting jetlag," he said. "Just getting that first game allowed us to see some of the line combinations and defence pairings.

"Overall, I think it was a good start. We always talk about each time we step on to the ice wanting to get better and I thought we did that. Obviously we still have some things to work on but we definitely like the position we're in right now."

Rebecca Kohler, Cayley Mercer, Catherine Dubois, Taylor Woods and Nicole Connery had the goals for Canada while Elaine Chuli and Emerance Maschmeyer split goaltending duties.

Canada and the United States have dominated this event, meeting in the final at all four previous championships. The Americans have won gold three times, with Canada doing so in 2010.

And the Canadians head into the tournament having beat the Americans in two-of-three games during a summer exhibition series. But Fetter said the message the coaches are preaching is to not look past other opponents.

"We as a (coaching) staff have to make sure we stay focused on the task at hand," he said. "Right now, that's getting ready for our game Saturday.

"There is a process to this and if we stick to the process in the end we're pretty positive we'll get the result we want."

It's a message defenceman Cydney Roesler of Stittsville, Ont., says she and her teammates hear loud and clear.

"We can take anyone lightly and have to go full tilt every shift, every game," she said. "We have to do what we do best and play as a team."

And Fetter said in women's hockey, confidence reigns supreme.

"It's all about confidence," he said. "And I think it all started earlier this summer having some success against the U.S. and hopefully it can carry over to here."

After facing Switzerland, Canada will take on Germany and Finland before moving on to the medal round.

The Americans headline the other division, which includes Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic. The gold-medal game will be played Jan. 7.

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