SASKATOON — Sarah Fillier not only scored a goal in her debut for the Canadian women’s hockey team Tuesday, but became the first place born in the year 2000 to do so.
The 18-year-old forward from Georgetown, Ont., collected the goal in Canada’s 6-1 win over Sweden to open the Four Nations Cup women’s hockey tournament.
Fillier captained Canada to a bronze medal at the world under-18 women’s championship earlier this year.
"My parents are here so it’s really cool they got to see that," Fillier said. "Coming back to the bench and having all those Olympians pat you on the back is a really special feeling."
"The first two thousand-born player, I take a lot of pride in that. I want to prove myself at this level and not just be here because they want me to get the experience. I want to make a difference at this level."
Melodie Daoust scored a pair of goals for a Canadian side battling illness Tuesday. Assistant captain Brianne Jenner participated in the morning skate, but did not play.
Head coach Perry Pearn was playing a shorter bench by the third period.
"When we got to the rink we had quite a few people that were sick," Pearn said. "The lineup went from having one extra forward dressed to finishing off the game playing with 10.
"We’re in the same hotel as Finland and they were down people today as well. Obviously there’s something going around."
Laura Stacey scored shorthanded for the host country at the SaskTel Centre. Captain Marie-Philip Poulin and Hamilton defender Laura Fortino rounded out the scoring for Canada.
Rebecca Johnson assisted on four goals.
Goaltender Shannon Szabados stopped 17 of 18 shots for her 47th career win for Canada. The 32-year-old from Edmonton ranks second all-time in wins behind Kim St. Pierre (64).
Emma Nordin scored a power-play goal for Sweden in the third period. Goaltender Lovisa Selander, 22, stopped 46 of 52 shots in her first start for her country.
Canada meets defending champion United States in a preliminary-round game Wednesday.
It will be their first meeting since the Americans edged the Canadians 3-2 in a shootout for Olympic gold in February.
"We’ve got to make sure that everybody gets enough rest tonight," Pearn said. "We won’t have much of a pre-game skate tomorrow. We’ll have a lot of people resting and getting recouped for the game tomorrow night."
The two countries with the best records at the conclusion of the round robin meet in Saturday’s final. The third and fourth seeds will play for bronze.
Former national-team defender Ylva Martinsen has taken over as coach of a young Swedish side that has five teenagers on its Four Nations roster.
The Swedes struggled to generate sustained pressure in the offensive zone against Canada. Erika Grahm put a shot off Canada’s post in the first period.
"We watched Sweden practise, but we hadn’t seen them play," Pearn said. "We weren’t sure what to expect from them.
"They played a very good trap. It took us awhile to adjust to that. As we did that, we put more pressure on them in their end. I thought we adapted fairly well."
Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. scored five unanswered goals in the second period to down Finland 5-1.
Brianna Decker, Hilary Knight, Sarah Brodt and Dani Cameranesi each had a goal and an assist for the U.S. Cayla Barnes also scored for the Americans.
Maddie Rooney, who backstopped the U.S. to Olympic gold in the final in Pyeongchang, South Korea, turned away nine of 10 shots for the win over the Finns.
Veteran netminder Noora Raty was the busier of the two goalies, repelling 44 of 49 shots in the loss. Emma Nuutinen scored Finland’s lone goal.