HAMEENLINNA, Finland - Canada opened the 2009 women's world hockey
championship with a 13-1 win against overmatched China on Saturday.

 

 

Rebecca Johnston, Hayley Wickenheiser, Gillian Apps
and Sarah Vaillancourt led the goalscoring with a pair apiece. Canada
spread the rest of the scoring out among Carla MacLeod, Caroline
Ouellette, Marie-Philip Poulin, Meghan Agosta and Haley Irwin.

 

 

Wickenheiser and Vaillancourt had five-point games
with three assists each to go with their two goals. Irwin had a
four-point performance in her world championship debut as she also had
three assists in addition to her goal.


Ouellette had two assists and Jennifer Botterill's two pushed her past a career 100 in her 160th game.

Goaltender Charline Labonte faced only four shots for
the victory. Canada pelted Chinese counterpart Yao Shi with 41 shots
before she was replaced late in the second period by Dandan Jia, who
faced 35 for a total of 76.

Canada meets Sweden on Monday in Pool B play of the
preliminary round. The Swedes beat Canada for the first time at the
Four Nations Cup in November with a 3-2 overtime win.


The nine-time champion Canadians are attempting to reclaim the world title they lost to the U.S. last year in Harbin, China.

Canada set team records Saturday for the fastest two
and three goals scored in history. MacLeod and then Ouellette struck
within 10 seconds of each other starting at 3:53 of the first period to
better the previous record of 11 seconds. Vaillancourt made it three
goals in a span of 46 seconds to beat the previous top time of 55
seconds.

Sun Rui scored China's first goal against Canada in
nine years at 14:05 of the first period. She knocked down a floating
pass from Jin Fengling to beat Labonte on China's second shot of the
game for a power-play goal.

While the score more lopsided than Canada's 11-0 win
over China last year in Harbin, it reflected the large gap that still
exists between the world's top four teams and the rest of the field.

The disparity in international hockey development
isn't a condition exclusive to women as Canada's under-20 men's team
thumped Kazakhstan 15-0 at the world junior championship in Ottawa in
December.

China has less than 200 female players compared to
over 77,000 in Canada. While Chinese government began putting more
resources into its women's hockey team to qualify for the 2010 Olympics
in Vancouver, China head coach Paul Strople of Halifax says his team's
goal at these world championships is simply to avoid being one of two
teams relegated to the world 'B' championship in 2011.

The Canadians were faster to the loose puck and
stronger protecting it so China rarely had it. The majority of the game
was played in China's end as the Canadians cycled the puck almost at
will.

With new personnel on the Canadian team, head coach
Melody Davidson had Jayna Hefford centring a line with Apps and
Wickenheiser. Ouellette, moving back to forward from defence, and Gina
Kingsbury flanked Botterill. Irwin played between Agosta and
Vaillancourt. Meaghan Mikkelson, who also moved up to forward from
defence, Johnston and Poulin rounded out the forward lines.


Gillian Ferrari and Catherine Ward, Carla MacLeod and Sostorics, Becky Kellar and Tessa Bonhomme were the defensive pairings.