VANCOUVER -- The most telling highlight of Canada's women's hockey game Wednesday was when the camera caught goalie Kim St-Pierre grinning while checking out fans going bonkers on the big screen during a first-period play stoppage.
St-Pierre's teammates gave her time to take it all in and the 5,483 fans on hand at UBC Thunderbird Arena had good reason to be rowdy and raucous, as the Canadians rolled to a 13-1 win over Sweden.
The win gave Canada top spot in Group A preliminary play with a 3-0 record, vaulting them into the Olympic semifinal against the second-place Group B team on Monday at Hockey Canada Place.
St-Pierre saw just four shots in her two periods of work as Canada thoroughly dismantled a Swedish team that had lost only 4-0 to them at the Four Nations Cup in Finland in November. The Swedes are the reigning Olympic silver medallists after upsetting the Americans in the semifinals at Turin 2006. They also came fourth at last April's world championships in Finland.
At least St-Pierre had a good vantage point for a bevy of Canadian markers picturesque enough to be paintings. There was Marie-Philip Poulin's ridiculously adept top-shelf job on a backhander. There was Hayley Wickenheiser's seeing-eye feed to spring Cherie Piper. There was Caroline Ouellette's cheeky setup from behind the net for Jayna Hefford.
Swedish coach Peter Elander blamed his charges, saying, "We had some inner-head injuries today." He also credited Canada.
"They have a coaching staff that is unbelievably good and they've been working with their players from the first of August to achieve another level of women's hockey," Elander said. "I think our team is much better than it was in Torino. Unfortunately, Canada hasn't stopped developing."
Wickenheiser went into the Olympic record book during the blowout. Her second-period goal gave her the all-time mark for goals with 16.
-- Canwest News Service