Stoney Creek’s Wong, Canada roll into playoffs

FÜSSEN, GERMANY – Four assists from Stoney Creek player Jessica Wong helped vault Canada’s National Team into the semifinals at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Under-18 Championship.

Canada finished the preliminary round play first in Group B with a 3-0 record and will face Sweden in Friday’s (Jan. 9) semifinals.

Wong, a native of Baddeck, N.S., plays for Stoney Creek in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League. Her four assists came in the final round-robin game on Wednesday (Jan.7) when Canada blanked the Czech Republic, 13-0.

“It’s not every day you get to play for your country,” said alternate captain Laura Fortino of Hamilton and Wong’s Stoney Creek teammate, “so we make sure we improve every shift and so far it’s helped us get closer to our goal.”

Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, QC/Dawson College, Collégial AA) finished with two goals and two assists, while Saige Pacholok (Edmonton /Edmonton, WWHL) also had four assists.

“We put forth a tremendous effort and we came out successful in our first three games,” said Canadian head coach Stephanie White. “We want to continue to use our team speed to our advantage as we strive to advance to the gold medal game.”

Also included in the preliminary round were wins against Switzerland (16-1) and Finland (6-0). Wong and Poulin both finished with nine points in the prelims, tying them for second in the tournament scoring. Goaltender Roxanne Douville (Beloeil, QC/Edouard-Montpetit, Collégial AA) had the best goals against average of any goaltender with more than 100 minutes played (0.50), as well as the second-best save percentage (.938).

Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team includes two goaltenders, six defencemen and 12 forwards. Eighteen of the 20 players were members of Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team for a three-game series against the United States in August in Lake Placid, NY, and all 20 participated in the 2008 National Women’s Under-18 Championship in Napanee, ON, including six members of Team Ontario Red, which captured its fifth consecutive gold medal.

Canada claimed silver at the inaugural IIHF World Women’s Under-18 Championship in Calgary last January.