CALGARY, Alta. -- Canada's National Team plays its only true home game this season on Saturday night at the Father David Bauer Arena against the Japanese Olympic Team, which is managed by longtime National team coach Dave King.
The game, the third in a six-game series against Japan, kicks off Royal Bank Canadian Hockey Week, a seven-day celebration of hockey and the volunteers who form the foundation of the game across Canada.
King, the ex-Calgary Flames coach whose name was synonymous with the National and Olympic team programs during the 1980s, has been working for the Japanese Ice Hockey Federation as a consultant as that country gears up to play host to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.
King, who works with Bjorn Kinding, Team Japan's Swedish coach, says Japanese hockey has been improving, with the recent introduction of import players (two per team) into that country's Elite League, and that the Canadian tour is part of the learning process for the Japanese.
'The strength of our team is our speed -- we're very mobile and the players are explosive skaters,' said King. 'They like to work within a system and have a well-conceived plan. The key weakness is they're not very physical, unfortunately, and they don't have the same instinctive feel for the game that Canadians do.'
The series provides team Canada the opportunity to play against a team that will participate in the Olympics.
'The really exciting thing for us is the chance to play a game in front of our friends and family,' said Murray, whose team plays a 65-game schedule, but just one game at its Calgary home base.
The two teams will practice on Thursday morning at the Father David Bauer Arena: Canada from 9 - 10:30, the Japanese from 10:45 - 12:15.
Tour Games Dates and Locations
Banff Recreation Centre Banff, AB. 7:30 p.m.
Drayton Valley Arena Drayton Valley, AB. 7:00 p.m.
Father David Bauer Arena Calgary, AB. 7:30 p.m.
Medicine Hat Arena Medicine Hat, AB. 7:00 p.m.
Fernie Memorial Arena Fernie, B.C. 7:00 p.m.
R.J. Lalonde Arena Bonnyville, AB. 7:30 p.m.