Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Canada rolls past Latvia

Sunday afternoon provided the crowd at the Halifax Metro Centre with plenty of practice in their cheers, a practice session clearly required when compared to the robust affection that the Latvian supporters showered on their team despite a 7-0 loss at the hand of the host side.

While the Latvians may not be a powerhouse on the ice just yet, they’re fans are surely one of the most passionate of believers off of the ice as they partied in the stands as though their team was on the positive side of that 7-0 score.

On the ice however, it was pure domination from Canada which executed their shifts in a thorough fashion, Pascal Leclaire had a relatively easy time of it in the Canadian nets, shutting out the Latvians and facing many shots from the periphery of the goal crease. Leclaire faced 30 shots from the never say die Latvians, who kept the competitive fires going despite the nature of the goal count on the scoreboard.

Dany Heatley continued his efforts to rewrite the Canadian hockey history books, with another stellar performance on behalf of the Maple Leaf, collecting his second four point game of the tournament, securing a goal and four assists on the way to the Latvian wipe out.

Heatley’s four points pushed him further ahead of Steve Yzerman; Heatley now has 40 points and counting for Team Canada, gaining him a prominent place in the Team Canada record books since they began keeping track of things during the professional era which started in 1977.

Canada fired 37 shots at Latvia’s Edgars Masalskis who was left to face the Canadian wave far too often, Canada did seem to pull up as the opportunities became plentiful, getting away from their traditional game of hard hitting and hearty back checking, instead putting on a bit of a Globetrotters type of show for the metro centre crowd, featuring much fancy passing and cycling of the puck.

Coach Ken Hitchcock will quickly break them of that bit of theatrical work in time for Tuesday’s showdown with arch rival the USA, Canada will have to return to the more traditional game of bang and crash and taking the play hard into the American end of the rink.

The score should be significantly different as well against the US, who always seems to up the intensity when they face off against their long time rival.

The focus of attention is also building for the Canadian team as they begin to gain more of the spotlight across Canada, with Montreal bowing out of the NHL playoffs this weekend past the prospect of a Canada’s team will be fully devoted to the playoff outcasts who took up the torch of Canadian hockey at these World Championships.

It might even be a large enough and loud enough group to give those Latvian fans a run for their money…

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