CALGARY, AB -- Defenceman Bryan McCabe scored the lone goal for Canada as the National Men's Team opened a nine-game European tour on Sunday with a 4-1 loss to Karpat, a Finnish club team based in Oulo, Finland.
The Finns outshot Canada 38-28, scored two power-play goals and added an empty-net goal in posting the victory. The two teams play again tonight in Oulo. Jari Laukkanen, on the power play, Tomi Jarjula, Juha Joenvaara, also on the power play, and Alexei Etimov (empty net) were the scorers for Karpat, which is undefeated in its Finnish pro league season so far.
Team Canada spent much of the game shorthanded, especially in the second period. Overall, Canada had to kill 15 minor penalties during the game, compared to nine for Karpat.
"Getting used to international refereeing is difficult," said Mike Johnston, Team Canada's general manager and head coach. "We had 16 players who had never played over here before."
Johnston praised the play of Canadian goaltender Fred Brathwaite of Nepean, ON.
"Fred played really well, especially when we took that string of penalties during the second period. There were two five-on-three situations and he shut them down on both. They finally scored a goal during a five-on-three in the third period, but that score went in off a leg, so it was a questionable goal."
Johnston said he expected his team to bounce back and play a stronger game on Monday against Karpat.
"It will be important for us to get the win so we can generate some momentum as we head into our games in Norway. Team Canada plays an exhibition game against the Norwegian national team on Wednesday and will compete in the VAR Cup in Oslo from Nov. 6-8 against Slovakia, Switzerland and the host Norwegians.
"That tournament is important because we're in the same pool at the 1999 World Hockey Championships as the teams we'll be competing against," said Johnston. "For 16 of our 20 players, that will be their first taste of international competition.
Team Canada concludes the nine-game, 18-day tour in Great Britain, where they play the Peterborough Pirates in Peterborough on Nov. 11, the Cardiff Devils in Cardiff, Wales on Nov. 12 and the Sheffield Steelers on Nov. 13. Sheldon Kennedy, who practised with Team Canada this week, is not a member of the team and did not travel to Europe for this tour.