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Canada downs Gatineau Mustangs in prep game for women’s world championships

Charline Labonte from Canada clears a puck during the IIHF World Women Championship Group B hockey match between Canada and Switzerland, Saturday, April 16, 2011 in Winterthur, Switzerland.

Alessandro Della Bella/AP

Canada defeated the Gatineau Mustangs 3-1 on Thursday in its first exhibition game in preparation for the upcoming women's world hockey championships.

Meghan Agosta-Marciano, Haley Irwin and Jayna Hefford scored for Canada.

Charline Labonte allowed one goal on 22 shots.

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"It was a good start for us," said head coach Dan Church. "I thought we got better as the game went on."

For the players this was a good opportunity to play against a strong, physical opponent.

"We always want to push ourselves out of our comfort zone to make ourselves a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger," said Tessa Bonhomme. "We're thankful (the boys) are willing to come out an help us with our growth and development. This is a great way to kick start our training camp."

Canada got in trouble midway through the first period taking back-to-back penalties, but was able to kill the junior-B team's two-man advantage.

Canada led 1-0 after the first on Agosta-Marciano's goal and made it 2-1 early in the second as Irwin scored. Hefford scored short-handed into an empty-net with 41 seconds remaining in regulation to round out the scoring.

Hayley Wickenheiser, Sarah Vaillancourt and Genevieve Lacasse did not play. The three are expected to play Saturday night against Sweden in Pembroke, Ont.

Canada opens the tournament against the United States April 2 at Ottawa's Scotiabank Place.

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