OTTAWA -- A pair of Canadian forwards breathed sighs of relief in Canada's 8-0 win over Finland at the women's world hockey championship Friday.
Bailey Bram scored her long-awaited first goal with Canada's national team. Meghan Agosta-Marciano, Canada's the top goalscorer at the 2010 Olympics, scored her first, second and third goals of the world championship in Canada's final preliminary-round game.
"Playing in the world championships, it's always a battle" Agosta-Marciano said. "Doesn't matter who you're playing against. To get that first goal of the tournament is always a good feeling."
The Ruthven, Ont., forward smacked her stick on the ice in triumph after scoring the first goal of her hat trick.
"It's always hard to get that first goal, but once you get it, you gain that momentum," she said. "For me, it really helped."
Canada finished first in Pool A with eight points ahead of the U.S. with seven. Both countries secured berths in Monday's semifinals.
Russia, Finland, Switzerland and Germany will play in Saturday's quarter-finals. The Czech Republic and Sweden will play a best-of-three relegation round.
Bram scored her first goal and Canada's first of the game in her 15th appearance with the national team. She was held scoreless in her world championship debut in 2012.
But it was worth the wait for the 22-year-old from Ste. Anne, Man. The announced crowd of 18,013 at SBP Arena set a single-game record for attendance at a female hockey game, according to Hockey Canada.
"To see it go in and get the monkey off my back was very exciting," an elated Bram said. "The fans were going nuts so it was great.
"I was hoping to get it playing Switzerland. Thirteen goals and I didn't get one and I was like 'oh, it's never going to come.' To start it off today was great."
Brianne Jenner contributed a pair of goals with Jennifer Wakefield and Sarah Vaillancourt also scoring for the defending champions.
Marie-Philip Poulin, Catherine Ward and Haley Irwin each had two assists. Shannon Szabados earned the shutout with 16 saves.
Finnish goaltender Noora Raty made 30 saves on 36 shots before she was replaced by Meeri Raisanen in the third period. Raisanen allowed two goals on seven shots.
In what is the second year for this tournament format, the top four countries in the world are grouped in Pool A and the fifth to eighth are in Pool B.
Canada and the United States move onto Monday's semifinals as the top two teams in their group. Finland was third with three points and Switzerland fourth with zero in Pool A.
Russia went undefeated to top Pool B and Germany was second with four points. Russia faces the Swiss and the Finns take on Germany in Saturday's quarter-finals.
The Canadians meet the winner between Russia and Switzerland in their semifinal. The Americans await the winner between the Finns and Germans.
The U.S. shut out Switzerland 5-0 on Friday. Russia blanked Sweden 4-0 and the Germans doubled the Czech Republic 6-3.
Canada was without captain Hayley Wickenheiser for a second straight game. Canada's all-time leading scorer suffered an upper-body injury in a 3-2 shootout win over the U.S. to open the tournament Tuesday.
She left that game in the second period and did not play in her team's 13-0 win over the Swiss the following night.
"We're encouraged. She's improving," head coach Dan Church said earlier Friday.
-- The Canadian Press