Wickenheiser breaks 300-point barrier with Canadian women’s hockey team

VANCOUVER — Hayley Wickenheiser became the first player on the Canadian women’s hockey team to break the 300 career-point barrier Tuesday in Canada’s 10-2 win over Finland at the Hockey Canada Cup.

Team Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser

VANCOUVER — Hayley Wickenheiser became the first player on the Canadian women’s hockey team to break the 300 career-point barrier Tuesday in Canada’s 10-2 win over Finland at the Hockey Canada Cup.

Wickenheiser had a pair of assists in her record-setting night. She’s averaged 1.5 points per game since joining the national team at the age of 15. The 31-year-old captain from Shaunavon, Sask., is Canada’s all-time leader in goals (142), assists (159), games (202) and penalty minutes (244).

“I’ve had a few good penalties over the years,” Wickenheiser said with a chuckle before adding. “I take a lot of pride in keeping myself at the highest level that I can.”

Wickenheiser plans to keep playing beyond the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver next February, so her numbers will be hard to match. Retired forward Danielle Goyette is second all-time at 219 points, followed by Canadian forward Jayna Hefford with 203.

“If you look at the next people after her, we’re so far behind and it shows how much of an amazing players she is,” forward Caroline Ouellette said. “The more important the games are, the better she is.”

Montreal’s Ouellette and Rebecca Johnston of Sudbury, Ont., each scored hat tricks for Canada. Johnston, 19, leads Canada in goals in the tournament with five in two games.

Canada controlled Tuesday’s game throughout. It was goal-filled and eventful for the 2,237 who bought tickets as Haley Irwin of Thunder Bay, Ont., scored on a penalty shot in the third period.

Sarah Vaillancourt of Sherbrooke, Que., Gillian Apps of Unionville, Ont., and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Botterill also scored for Canada (2-0). Goaltender Kim St. Pierre of Chateauguay, Que., stopped 11 of 13 shots in her first start of the tournament.

Rosa Lindstedt and Linda Valimaki replied for Finland, who upset the U.S. 3-2 on Monday for just their second win over that country in women’s hockey history.

The reigning world champions recovered with a 7-0 win Tuesday over the Swedes, who are winless and have yet to score in two games.

The tournament is a test event for the Olympic Games. Games are played at GM Place, which will be re-named Canada Hockey Place for the Olympics.

The preliminary round concludes Thursday with Canada versus the U.S. and Finland meeting Sweden. All teams advance to Saturday’s semifinal round with the top seed meeting the bottom seed and No. 2 taking on No. 3.

The medal games are Sunday and TSN will carry the final on tape delay starting at midnight ET. All other games can be seen on Hockey Canada’s webcast.

Finland has never beaten Canada. The closest they’ve come is a 1-1 tie on Feb. 4, 1998, in a pre-Olympic exhibition game.

New Finnish coach Pekka Hamalainen opted to rest goalie Noora Raty after her 49-save performance against the U.S. Backup Mira Kuisma couldn’t produce the same over-the-top performance with 30 saves on 40 shots.

Canada opened the tournament with a 7-0 win over Sweden. Finland forechecks harder and boasts a faster transition game than the Swedes. They attempt to slow the game to a snail’s pace once Canada clears their own zone as they clog up the middle lane to force the opposition to the outside.

“They’re frustrating to play against from our end, but I think they play the game tactically well,” Canadian head coach Melody Davidson said. “They protect the middle of the ice and there’s nothing there. If you try to force it, they will make you look bad and frustrate you.”

The hosts quickly cycled the puck through the attacking zone to stretch the Finns out and open scoring lanes. Instead of issuing more directives before the third period break, Davidson asked her players what they wanted to work on for the third.

“I get tired of talking to them. It’s better if they hear it from each other,” Davidson said with a smile.

“We talked about minimizing scoring chances. We were having some brain farts out there in the second period and giving up things we shouldn’t. We talked about shooting and when we say shot mentality it means we’re going to crash the net.

“We think our biggest asset on the ice is to spread the zones out. If we’re able to spread things out, we can be successful.”

Lindstedt briefly tied the game halfway through the opening period with a floater that deflected off of Wickenheiser’s glove and past St. Pierre. But Canada countered with five unanswered goals before Finland struck again late in the second.

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