TRNAVA, Slovakia - The true value of an exhibition win for Canada's under-18 hockey team wasn't the victory itself.
Most importantly, it gave head coach Bill Peters and his assistants something to focus on ahead of next week's Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament.
"Now we've got some actual game footage of our team that we can show and teach with," Peters said after a 6-4 win over the U.S. on Saturday. "That will make us better."
They looked pretty good in their first game since travelling to Europe.
Taylor Hall of Kingston, Ont., scored three goals for Canada while Scott Glennie of Winnipeg, Garrett Mitchell of Regina and Brayden Schenn of Saskatoon added singles.
Shane Berschbach, Nick Leddy, Eamonn McDermott and Tyler Brown replied for the U.S.
The Canadians led 3-1 in the second period but ended up being tied 4-4 late in the third. Hall scored the winner on American goalie John Cullen at 18:51.
"There's room for improvement, but for the first time together I thought we did a lot of good things," said Peters, who coached Spokane to the Memorial Cup last season. "It was good to get our first game under our belts."
One of the big challenges the Canadians will face is adjusting to European refereeing, which tends to be stricter. Many of the players will be getting their first international experience at this event.
Canada plays the Czech Republic on Sunday in its final exhibition tuneup before opening the tournament against Switzerland on Tuesday.
Each team plays three round-robin games before the winners of each pool face one another for the gold. There's very little room for error, as the Canadian team learned last year when it lost its first game and ended up finishing fourth.
"I think you've got to go in with the mindset that you're going to go 3-0 and play the gold medal game," said Peters. "That's our goal right now."