SUNDSVALL, Sweden — Canada's women's hockey team defeated Sweden 3-1 at the Four Nations tournament Saturday on what was an emotional day for goalie Erica Howe.
The 23-year-old from Orleans, Ont., made her first start in an international tournament, seven years to the day her dad Peter died of cancer.
"Kind of bittersweet," Howe said. "(Friday) night they told me I was going to get the start and it just kind of had an extra special meaning, texting my mom and letting her know. I was definitely thinking of him today, and just thinking how proud he would be of me."
Marie-Philip Poulin, Natalie Spooner, and Jennifer Wakefield scored for the Canadians, who face arch-rival United States for gold on Sunday. Howe made 11 saves.
The U.S. went undefeated through the preliminary round, including a 3-0 win over Canada and a 7-0 rout of Finland to cap first-round action Saturday.
"That game we had times when we played really well, and we dominated the play," Spooner said of the team's loss to the U.S. "So I think we need to look at the positives going into (Sunday) and know that when we're playing our game we can be a really good team and have those chances and hopefully bury them.
"It's going to be a good game either way. Always is when we play the U.S."
Howe said the Canadians' communication has improved through the preliminary round.
"Now, being later in the tournament, our lines are clicking a little better . . . we don't have to work so hard to get pass to pass. You know where your teammates are going to be, and we're getting a lot better at our systems, so it makes it a lot easier to play the game," she said. "Sweden is a great opponent so we had to work hard to get around them and get shots in. But when you get the chemistry with each other, it makes it a little easier."
Canada is the defending Four Nations champion having beaten the U.S. 3-2 in a shootout in last year's final. But the Americans are the reigning world champions.
Hanna Olsson scored Sweden's lone goal.
The Canadian Press