by Paul Romanuk
Canada played it's best game yet at the 2003 Spengler Cup championship as they hammered Russia (represented by Jaroslavl) by a score of 6-3. National Hockey League veteran Dixon Ward (537 NHL GP) led the way with two goals. Canada is now 3-0 at the tournament and is assured of a berth in the championship game on New Year's Eve.
“We started slowly, but so did they,” said Ward. “When you have two teams that don't really know one another I think you have to expect that. We just had to figure out what we'd be able to do and what we wouldn't be able to get away with.”
There was no scoring in the opening period. However, both teams took turns taking physical shots at one another. Canada took four minor penalties in the first period; the Russians took three.
Canada opening the scoring 20 seconds into the second period when Jan Alston jumped on a turnover and blasted it behind Russian netminder Egor Podomatsky. Jeff Toms (236 NHL GP) converted on a nice pass from Yves Sarault (106 NHL GP) on a 2 on 1 shorthanded breakaway to make it 2-0 Canada. Mike Maneluk (85 NHL GP) made it 3-0 on another 2 on 1 at 15:23. Russia got one back before the period was over when Ivan Tkachenko picked up a rebound in front of Canadian netminder Jamie Hodson and smashed it home. Canada led 3-1 after two periods.
Ward scored his first of the game early in the third period off a beautiful pass from his linemate Maneluk. Hnat Domenichelli made it 5-1 for Canada at 6:32 of the period. Domenichelli's shot glanced off a Russian defenceman and into the top corner behind Podomatsky. Evgeny Korolev scored Russia's second goal of the game at 7:41. However, 42 seconds later Ward scored his second of the game to put Canada up 6-2. Konstanti Glazatchev scored a late goal for Russia to make the final 6-3.
The line of Maneluk, Ward and Stacey Roest accounted for a total of 7 scoring points on the night.
“I play with Stacey Roest at Rapperswill (in the Swiss League), so we have great chemistry together,” said Ward. “And I gotta say, I can't believe what a great skater Mike Maneluk is. It's fun to play with those two guys.”
“I was really proud of our guys tonight,” said Canadian coach Gary Green. “We didn't go out there and play a conservative 2-2 trap. We went right at them. We played hard.”
Canada will wrap up the round robin portion of the tournament on Tuesday with a game against the host club, Davos. Canada defeated Davos in the championship game last year.