Canada’s university hockey teams smash opposition in openers in Italy

For Canadian hockey fans looking to cheer on their country in some competitive games before the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships in Sweden or the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, you'll have to wait a little longer.

Hockey got underway at the 26th FISU Winter Games on Tuesday in Trentino, Italy, Tuesday evening, a tournament with student-athletes competing against each other from around the world.

In men's and women's hockey, Canada outscored its opponents 33-1 (Team Canada website / Trentino 2013 website)

MEN'S HOCKEY: Canada 12 Japan 1
Nick MacNeil scored four goals and Mike Cazzola tallied six points as the Canadian men’s hockey team dominated Japan 12-1 in its tournament opener.

The team is made up of all-stars from the Atlantic University Sport conference, and will have a two-day rest before facing Ukraine on Friday in its second of three Pool A contests. The Canucks will then wrap up the preliminary round on Sunday against Kazakhstan, a nation they beat 3-1 two years ago in the bronze-medal match of the biennial competition.

MacNeil, a native of Creignish, N.S., and member of the reigning University Cup champion UNB Varsity Reds, had completed his hat trick by the time the first period was over as Canada went back to the locker room up 5-1. The fourth-year forward then notched the lone goal of the second frame and added an assist in the third to finish with five points.

Cazzola, an Acadia forward who hails from Guelph, Ont., scored Canada’s fourth marker in the opening stanza and had five assists, including three on MacNeil goals.

Cory Tanaka of Saint Mary’s and Éric Faille of Moncton each contributed a pair, while StFX’s Michael Kirkpatrick, Saint Mary’s Lucas Bloodoff and Dalhousie’s Pierre Vandall had singles for the winners.

Canada outshot Japan 58-16. Ryo Omiya scored Japan's only goal, beating Canadian goaltender Wayne Savage of UPEI, scoring on a two-man advantage at 12:14 of the first to cut the deficit to 3-1.

“The group was ready to play in the first period and it was a little bit like Christmas,” said Team Canada head coach Gardiner MacDougall, who has led UNB to four CIS titles in the past seven years and who was an assistant coach with the Universiade gold medal-winning team in 2007. “We played the game like men, but our attitudes and our hunger when we got to put on the Team Canada jersey was like 10-year-old boys at Christmas time. I think we got away from our game a little bit in the second but got it back in the third. We have an opportunity for two good practices now and get ready for our second game in a few days.”

In 13 previous appearances at the FISU tourney, Canada has reached the podium 12 times, including three gold medals, three silver and six bronze. Its three last gold came in 2007 when the team was represented by the AUS all-stars.

The medal games will be played on Dec. 21.

WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Canada 21 Spain 0

In women's hockey, Gabrielle Davidson of McGill University scored four times and added two assists as Canada pummeled Spain 21-0 to opening its defence of the Universiade title

Spain, playing its first-ever FISU contest, registered just two shots, both coming in the third period.

The result was expected. Canada is the reigning two-time champion, winning in the two previous Universiades in women's hockey in 2009 in China (when the sport made its Universiade debut) and again in 2011 in Turkey. The Canadians improved to a perfect 15-0 all-time at the tourney and have now outscored their opponents by a 118-10 margin overall.

The final score was the second most lopsided in the short history of Universiade women’s hockey. Finland crushed host Turkey 32-0 in preliminary round action two years ago.

“It was good to get our legs and get a game under our belt,” said Team Canada head coach Howie Draper of the Alberta Pandas. “As a coaching staff, we wanted to see the lines and how they worked together. Coaches from the east hadn’t necessarily had a lot of opportunity to see the players from the west and vice versa, so it was a good opportunity to evaluate all aspects. There are things we need to work on and improve on – we’ll need them as we move into the later rounds.”

McGill's Katia Clément-Heydra of St. Bruno de Montarville, Que., tallied twice and added a pair of helpers. Jessica Pinkerton, a native of Oshawa, Ont., who skates for the Guelph Gryphons, also added a hat-trick for the Canadians, while Josianne Legault of the reigning CIS champion Montreal Carabins, Laura Brooker of Laurier, Alex Normore of StFX and Carla Wooster of Saskatchewan each tallied twice.

Rounding out the scoring with one apiece for the CIS all-stars were Calgary’s Jenna Smith, Guelph’s Amanda Parkins, UBC’s Tatiana Rafter, and Morgan McHaffie from Queen’s.

Netminder Élodie Rousseau-Sirois, another Carabin standout who hails from Pohenegamook, Que., needed to make only two saves to register the shutout.

Canada (1-0) plays Russia (0-1) on Dec. 12 in its second of five round-robin contests. The Russians dropped their opener 4-2 against the USA on Tuesday. Japan beat Great Britain 10-1 in the other day one duel.