Friday, May 05, 2006

A win under their belts

The stormed out to a 3-0 lead and then sat back and watched as a surprisingly fast Danish squad came back to tie them at 3 apiece. For any Team Canada, the most worrisome thing is for one of the unexpected squads to suddenly come to life and threaten to send Canada down to defeat.

It was a second period collapse that allowed the Danes to come back and put a scare into Team Canada. Finally Sidney Crosby took charge of the game and put the Canadians ahead for good at 3:17 of the third period. By games end the scare had been avoided and Canada had taken a 5-3 victory from Denmark.

Canada played the game short a number of roster spots, as the annual air lift of first round NHL refugees make the pilgrimage to the World Hockey Championships. Canada played the Danes with only 15 skaters, leaving lots of ice time for the young guns line of Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes. All three were involved in multiple scoring plays during the course of the game. They will see their ice time reduce to more manageable portions when the cavalry arrives in the next day or so.

This year’s flying squad includes Brendan Shanahan, Mike Cammalleri, Matt Pettinger and Brent Seabrook who are all expected to join the youthful Team Canada roster over the next couple of days. At an average age of 24, this is the youngest Team Canada squad sent over to compete in a long time.

They all get a chance to put the lessons of Friday to work again on Sunday, when they take on the Norwegians in the opening round of the World Championships. Canada then takes on their old time hockey rival the USA on Tuesday to finish off the preliminary round of the tournament. The Americans got off to a winning start with a 3-1 victory over Norway in the opening match of Group D action.

For Canada the learning curve will be steep for the youngsters wearing the Maple Leaf, but perhaps the folks at Hockey Canada are looking at the success of the junior programs over the last few years. Many of Canada’s players are probably not too far removed from their junior days and the success that those days brought them on the International stage.

Perhaps Hockey Canada is hoping that those Golden memories will come back quickly as they move further into the Championships.

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