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  • Sunday, April 2, 2000

    Gunning for Number One

    Canada has never lost a world championship game

    By PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

      The only sure things in life seem to be death, taxes and world-championship victories for Canada's national women's hockey team.

     After winning the first five world titles, the Canadian women will be heavily favoured for the pick six when this year's tournament begins tomorrow. Canada has been so dominant in this tournament that it is unbeaten in 25 games. Canada has scored 195 goals and given up only 26.

     "Because the standard has been set, the players know what the standard is and it's just your job to keep the standard up," first-year head coach Melody Davidson said.

     NOTHING COMES EASILY

     "Sometimes the young players coming in may think it's a little easier than it all looks, but our players have all gone through the under-22 program, so they'll have a good picture of what's happening."

     Defenceman Cheryl Pounder, who will be playing in her third championship, said the squad is trying hard to focus on the task at hand.

     "We don't really try and worry about what happened in the past," Pounder said. "It's great that we achieved that and it's wonderful to have that expectation because you're No. 1. When people have that feeling that you're No. 1, it's great. Where would you rather be?

     "We take one game at a time because you always have to realize the other countries are getting better, which is for the good of women's hockey."

     Defencemen Nathalie Rivard, who also will be playing in her third worlds, said the Canadians always want to win because of the bitter memory of losing the 1998 Olympic final to the United States in Nagano.

     "For us it's something we never forget," Rivard said. "It's definitely hard to have lost the gold medal at the Olympics and, ever since, our goal is to never lose. We want to keep winning to make sure we have a good chance at winning the next one."

     Rivard said each new national team approaches the worlds as if it were a whole new experience.

     "There's that voice in the back of your head that's saying, 'Forget about all the other ones,' " Rivard said. "If you let yourself sit back and think we've won all the other ones you're going to get slammed in the face. It's going to come back at you.

     'FORGET THE OTHER ONES'

     "You better be ready for every team. That's why you have to look at every game as much as a Canada-U.S. game or a Canada-Finland game. You have to look at every game like it's your last one."

     Last night in Sarnia, Danielle Goyette had a hat trick in Canada's 9-1 tuneup win over Sweden.

     "It was a good test for us," Davidson said. "We're ready. We've been practising for a week and I think it's time."

     Canada begins round-robin play tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga against Japan. The majority of the games will be played at the Hershey Centre, including the final a week tonight. Other games will be in Peterborough, Barrie, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, Oshawa and London.

     -- with files from CP



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