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Canada defeats Finland 4-2 in final tuneup for world junior championship

NHL.com @NHL

CHRUDIN, Czech Republic - It's time for the Canadian junior team to get down to business.

Canada wrapped up its exhibition schedule on Sunday by beating Finland 4-2 on the strength of two goals from Shawn Matthias. The Canadians won all three of their exhibition games and open the world junior championship on Wednesday against host Czech Republic.

"We've been here for about a week now and we really want to get this on the go," said forward Brad Marchand. "We're very excited. It's going to be a great tournament.

"Everyone's so excited and so anxious."

Marchant and Drew Doughty also scored goals for Canada while Steve Mason made 31 saves.

Niko Aaltonen and Ville Lajunen replied for Finland.

The Finns had five power plays in the second period alone and outshot Canada 33-21 overall. Coach Craig Hartsburg says his team was only able to play well in spurts.

"It wasn't our best game," said Hartsburg. "We started strong but things probably came a little too easy for us. We let our foot off the gas pedal a little bit and let the Finns back in the game."

One bright side for the Canadian team was the play of Mason, the London Knights goalie who started the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Hartsburg and his coaching staff have yet to decide whether Mason or Jonathan Bernier will be in goal when Canada plays the Czechs.

"I thought he was really good," said Hartsburg. "He made some big saves and was really solid for us. He's big in the net.

"It gives a good opportunity because we have two really good goalies."

Marchand and defenceman Karl Alzner are the only returning players from last year's team. One of their main tasks will be to share their experience with their teammates.

"This time I'm a lot more confident going in," said Marchand. "If we go through any adversity, I'll be able to step up. It's only me and Karl who are returning this year.

"We're going to help the guys out with knowing what the tournament's going to be like. Every game's do or die. We have to go undefeated throughout the tournament pretty much."

Canada is off to a good start after going undefeated in its exhibition games.

Hartsburg is happy with the improvement he's seen since the team arrived in Europe but wants to make sure his players don't get overexcited and lose their focus.

He knows they really want to get going.

"I think they're starting to itch and get ready to start the tournament," said Hartsburg. "We've got a couple days here now to fine-tune some things for a big game against the Czechs."

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