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Five things to know about the Canadian women's team, Four Nations Cup

11/03/2014 04:43 EST | Updated 01/03/2015 05:59 EST
The Canadian women's hockey team opens defence of the Four Nations Cup on Tuesday in Kamloops, B.C.

The annual international women's hockey tournament also features the United States, Finland and Sweden.

Canada's first opponent is Sweden. The top two teams in the preliminary round meet in Saturday's final at the Interior Savings Centre.

Here are five things to know about the Four Nations Cup:

— When Canada and the U.S. square off in the preliminary round Wednesday, it will be their first meeting since the dramatic Olympic gold-medal game in Sochi, Russia. Trailing 2-0, the Canadians scored twice in the last four minutes and again in overtime to rescue the gold medal. The Americans hit the post on what could have been an empty-net winner with just over a minute to go. Canada has 10 players at the Four Nations from its Olympic roster, while the Americans are taking a dozen Sochi veterans to Kamloops.

— Canada lost a premier player just a week out from the Four Nations. Marie-Philip Poulin of Beauceville, Que., who scored the equalizer with 55 seconds left and the overtime winner in the Sochi gold-medal game, won't play in Kamloops because of an undisclosed injury. The Boston University captain was hurt in a Terriers game against Maine. Brianne Jenner of Oakville, Ont., who scored the first goal of the comeback in Sochi, replaced Poulin on the host team's roster.

— Caroline Ouellette, Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford were among the warhorses Hockey Canada left at home to start grooming a new generation of leaders. Haley Irwin of Thunder Bay, Ont., will be Canada's captain in Kamloops. Rebecca Johnston of Sudbury, Ont., Lauriane Rougeau of Beaconsfield, Que., and Toronto's Natalie Spooner will be assistant captains.

— Jamie Lee Rattray leads 10 players in their debut with the national team. The Ottawa forward capped her final season at Clarkson by winning the Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in NCAA Division 1 women's hockey. She now plays in the Canadian Women's Hockey League for Brampton. Forward Jillian Saulnier of Halifax was a finalist for the Kazmaier award and is in her senior year with Cornell.

— Finland finished out of the medals in Sochi, but took their greatest strides yet in closing the gap on Canada and the U.S. For the first time, they engaged the North Americans at both ends of the ice instead of relying on defence and a lucky goal. The Finns fell 3-1 to the U.S. and 3-0 to Canada in Sochi. A quarter-final loss to Sweden kept them from a semifinal rematch with the U.S., but Finland has what it takes to challenge for world gold.

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