Thursday, September 02, 2004

Ryan’s grit one of the keys to Canadian success

He says it feels good to be making a contribution and with his two goal performance on Wednesday night, Ryan Smyth is putting his stamp on the Team Canada lineup. The Edmonton Oiler had a huge game against the Slovaks, leading Team Canada to a 5-1 victory over the understaffed Slovakian squad. A perennial favorite on Canadian teams for his determination on the ice, Smyth is finding his place on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Dany Heatley as he takes his lumps in aid of the scoring chances.

Team Canada out shot the Slovaks 35-25 and outplayed them quite a bit despite the close margin on the shot board. It was the second start of the tournament for Martin Brodeur and he continued to hold dominance over his domain as he kept shot after shot out of the Canadian net. Only Martin Cibak could put a shot behind the New Jersey Devil’s goaltender as he scored off of a Lubas Baretecko rebound. The Slovaks were using a rather depleted line up in their debut performance, Michal Handzus, Zigmund Palffy, Peter Bondra and Ivan Majesky are all missing due to injuries and the trip to the infirmary continued on Wednesday as Richard Zednik missed the game due to food poisoning

When Smyth wasn’t potting goals, some other Canadians were getting in on the scoring. Included on the scorers sheet were; Martin St. Louis, Joe Thornton and Simon Gagne. The game proved to be yet another costly one for Canada, as Wade Redden left the game in the second period with a “lower body injury” his return status is questionable at the moment. Earlier in the day the Canadians received the disappointing news that Ed Jovanovski would be out of the line up for the rest of the tournament with a broken rib and serious knee sprain. With the already depleted defensive options in the Canadian camp well documented Pat Quinn will reach into the team Canada skybox for a replacement for Redden if necessary, Jay Bouwmeester may get his first taste of International hockey on Saturday against the Russians.

With the win, Canada has secured home ice advantage through the quarter finals of the tournament; the road is a little tougher for the Slovaks who next see action on Friday night against the Americans in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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