BONNYVILLE, AB. -- Matt Sharrers scored his first goal of the season for Team Canada and assisted on another as Canada's National Team shut out Japan 5-0 on Friday night in the finale of a six-game series in Western Canada.
Sharrers, of Hope, B.C., split the Japanese defence and, while being hauled down by the two defenders, deked goalie Jiroh Nihei to the ice and ripped a backhander just underneath the crossbar at 6:19 of the second period to make it 4-0 for Canada. That goal delighted the sell-out crowd of 2,000, who were treated to an entertaining, if one-sided contest.
Ryan Duthie, on assists from defenceman Jeff Tory and goaltender Blair Allison, and Jason Young scored first-period goals for Canada, who outshot Japan 12-6 in the opening 20 minutes and 11-4 in the second. Overall, Canada outshot Japan 32-17.
Steve Junker, with a second-period score, and Xavier Majic, with the lone goal in the third period, were the other goal scorers for Canada.
Canada outscored Team Japan 38-12 in the six-game tour, beating the visitors by scores of 5-1, 7-0, 11-5, 4-3, 6-3 and 5-0 in what the Japanese acknowledged was a learning experience for them.
The tour included the only game Team Canada will play this season at its home rink -- Father David Bauer Arena In Calgary on Jan. 18. That game helped launch Royal Bank Canadian Hockey Week across Canada, which this year focused on honoring the thousands of volunteers who contribute so much to minor hockey from coast to coast.
Following the game Friday night, Team Canada returned to its home base at the Royal Bank Canadian Hockey Centre, where the team will train for a week before travelling to Norway for a two-game exhibition series Feb. 2-3 to prepare for the Sweden Games tournament in Stockholm from Feb. 6-9.
Later next month (Feb. 20-27) Canada's National team will go to Japan for a six-game series there, as part of that country's preparations to stage the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.