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Canada routs Slovakia 18-0 in women's tournament

by Shawn P. Roarke
VANCOUVER -- Hockey arrived at the 2010 Olympics in record-breaking fashion.

In the nightcap of a women's doubleheader on Saturday, Team Canada routed Slovakia 18-0 at a raucous Canada Hockey Place. The 18 goals are an Olympic record for a women's game, breaking the record of 16 set by Canada, against Italy, in 2006.

In Saturday's opener, Sweden defeated Switzerland 3-0.

The Canadian women certainly set the bar high for the host men's team, which opens play Tuesday against Norway. The men's tournament opens earlier Tuesday when the United States plays Switzerland.

But on this night, all the focus was on the Canadian women's team -- and they sent a message loud and clear with their performance against Slovakia that they are gunning for a third gold medal in four Olympics.

"We're pretty happy with it," said Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser, who had three assists and a plus-6 rating. "We came out and played just like we would against anybody else, knowing the score might be high. We did a good job with that. It was a tough game to play, no matter what side you are on. Now we have this out of the way and can move forward."

The Canadian women owned Saturday night from the opening faceoff, strafing Slovakian goalie Zuzana Tomcikova with five shots on the first shift before Haley Irwin scored on an uncontested wrister from the faceoff dot just 96 seconds into the game.

From that point on, the rout was on.

At the end of the first period, Canada led 7-0, tying the record for goals in a period. Just 19 seconds after the game's midway point, Meghan Agosta had a hat trick. Later in the second period, Canada scored two shorthanded goals on the same hooking penalty to Haley Irwin. Jayna Hefford scored just 12 seconds into the penalty and Caroline Ouellette scored 44 seconds later.

"We wanted to showcase the skill of our game," Wickenheiser said. "This is the Olympics. I thinks the fans enjoyed all the goals."

Canadian goalie Kim St. Pierre faced only nine shots, including just two in the second period. Tomcikova, a star with the Bemidji State women's team, faced 67 shots and was valiant in stopping 49.

"It was really hard but my girls helped me out so much," Tomcikova said. "I'm so proud of how they did and I'm sorry I didn't help them more than I did.

Even Wickenheiser was impressed with the Slovakian goalie, despite the score.

"She stoned me a few times," the Canadian captain said. "She played with a lot of heart. I think she just got tired out. I told her at the end of the game that she played with a lot of heart and to keep her head high."

In the first game, Sweden got 16 saves from Kim Martin and shut out Switzerland.

Martin made her Olympic debut eight years ago at age 15 and starred four years ago in a victory over the United States gave the Swedes the silver medal. She wasn’t tested severely until the third period, when she made several sharp saves to preserve the shutout.

“It was a relief to win again," said Martin, who’s taking time out from playing college hockey for Minnesota-Duluth. "This almost felt like a one-and-done game because it's our first time out there, but I think we got better and better while the game went on. It's a relief to have the first one out of the way."

Danijela Rundqvist opened the scoring at 12:31 of the opening period. Tina Enstrom, sister of Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Tobias Enstrom, made it 2-0 when she scored the second goal of the game at 11:35 of the second period when she beat Florence Schelling, who plays college hockey for Northeastern

Erica Uden Johansson increased the lead to 3-0 by scoring late in the second period.

Schelling made 31 saves for Switzerland, which won just one game four years ago in its debut in the women’s hockey competition but has climbed to fifth in the world – just behind the Swedes.

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