PREROV, Czech Republic - Canada hopes it has started building the foundation for a gold-medal run at the under-18 women's world championship.
Catherine Dubois scored a hat trick and Taylor Woods added two goals on Saturday as Canada opened the tournament with a 13-1 victory over Switzerland.
For all but six members of the team, it was the first time playing in a big international game on foreign soil. They were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.
"As my first game in Europe, it was pretty exciting," said 17-year-old defenceman Alexis Crossley. "I think the fact that it was our first game of the tournament we were really into it the whole time.
"We were able to keep our heads into it even though we had 13 goals. It was just the more the merrier."
The coaching staff was pleased with the attention to detail from the players. Canada had a somewhat slow start — it was 2-1 after the first period — but got stronger as the game went along.
"It's never really about the score, it's just always about doing the right things and having good habits along the way," said assistant coach Carla MacLeod, a former national team member. "That's what I think we set a good foundation today for. We started off a little bit timid — I think we were just a bit nervous, which is normal for a big tournament like this.
"But once the girls settled in and started playing together and sort of played the Canadian game, I thought we did well."
Laura Stacey and Nicole Connery each added a goal and two assists for Canada. Crossley, Emily Clark, Morgan Richardson, Cydney Roesler, Cayley Mercer and Rebecca Kohler had the other goals.
Emerance Maschmeyer finished with 25 saves.
Isabel Waidacher had the lone goal in reply for Switzerland.
Canada has met the U.S. in the final of all four under-18 world championships, winning gold in 2010. A meeting between the rivals won't come until later in the tournament, possibly in another final.
The Canadians certainly plan on being there.
"Having a chance to play for your country in a country halfway across the world is something that's really hard to describe," said Crossley. "Obviously, I feel very honoured to be here and I'm very excited that I am going to have the chance at bringing back a gold medal to my country and get to show it off to all of my family and friends."
Canada wraps up the round robin with games against Germany on Sunday and Finland on Tuesday.
MacLeod is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and likes what she's seen from the group so far. The team travelled to Europe on Boxing Day with an eye on peaking for the event.
"The group is awesome," said MacLeod. "For a lot of these players, it's the first time on the international stage. Kind of as a grizzled vet, if you were, it's kind of fun to relive it. I remember the feeling.
"Absolutely, there's a huge energy in that room."