NEWS
08/27/2011 02:02 EDT | Updated 10/27/2011 05:12 EDT

Vicki Bendus scores three times as Canada whips Slovakia 11-0; U.S. up next

VIERUMAKI, Finland - Vicki Bendus had a hat trick Saturday as Canada hammered Slovakia 11-0 at the 12 Nations women's hockey tournament.

Haley Irwin, Jayna Hefford and Jesse Scanzano each added two apiece while Courtney Birchard and Mallory Deluce also scored as Canada outshot the Slovaks 73-8.

Genevieve Lacasse picked up the win for Canada (3-0), while Monika Kvakova allowed all 11 goals for Slovakia (0-3).

"We had our most complete game today," Canada head coach Dan Church said. "We played well on both sides of the puck and the areas that we've been working on tactically in our game have really been coming together.

"Slovakia was probably the toughest defensively of the three teams that we've faced so far, so we had to be good both defensively and offensively."

The Canadians have won the first three round-robin games of the tournament by a combined 41-1 score, but things will get much tougher Sunday against the world champions from the U.S.

Church said that while every game is important, a meeting with the hockey rival has added significance.

"Whenever you play the United States its a great game and these are the games that the players really look forward to because they are our rival," Church said. "Its almost like every game between Canada and the U.S. is like a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final."

The 12 Nations is a new tournament on the women's hockey schedule. The International Ice Hockey Federation wants to close the large gaps in skill between countries by providing more competitive opportunities.

It's hoped federations will put more resources into female hockey and that players will be motivated to improve their skills.

Eight countries — Canada, the U.S., Finland, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Slovakia and Japan — are facing each other in Finland, while France, Germany, Norway and the Czech Republic are playing in a mini-tournament simultaneously in Courcheval, France.