Canada 3 - Slovakia 0
by Alan Adams
LEKSAND, Sweden – Kris Russell is on a record-setting performance at the World Junior Hockey Championship and Canada is benefiting from it.
Russell scored twice in a 3-0 win over Slovakia on Sunday and he now holds the record for the most goals (4) by a Canadian defenceman in a single world junior tournament.
"That's neat," Russell, who plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers, said after the game when told his performance was one for the ages.
But Russell isn't about individual performances. He's here to win gold as a member of Canada's National Junior Team.
"It is pretty exciting to hear something like that but it doesn't mean much," he said. "It is a team effort and I got lucky on the power play."
The Canadians now have won four straight games in this sleepy Swedish town and the National Junior team program has 16 consecutive wins to its credit, dating back to the 2005 WHC in North Dakota.
Canada's next game is Wednesday and the opponent will be decided on Tuesday when the quarter-final games are to be played.
Forward Steve Downie scored his third goal in four games while goalie Carey Price made 32 saves to register his second shutout.
The Canada-Slovakia game meant nothing to either team in the standings as Slovakia was already headed to the relegation round.
The game didn't have a lot of flow to it, mostly because of the constant parade of players to the penalty box. And once Canada took a 2-0 lead in the first period, the penalty parade began in earnest.
Price only had to make a couple of difficult saves to preserve the shutout. He slid across the crease in the third period to make a brilliant pad save when the Slovaks had a two-man power play.
Late in the second period, he made two smart pad saves during a Slovak power play and then got the shaft of his stick caught in the goal netting. He squared up without his stick to a Slovak who shot wide and nonchalantly retrieved his stick.
"I did a barrel-role," laughed Price about how he retrieved his stick.
The Canadians know the officiating in Europe is at times much different than what they are used to. They also know the dangers of undisciplined hockey and taking penalties when a man is already in the box.
With no games Monday and Tuesday, the Canadian juniors will use the time to rest and prepare for the semifinals.
"Hopefully we are playing a team (in the semifinals) that comes in tired and we are well-rested," said Daniel Bertram.
PREVIEW: LEKSAND, Sweden – It's almost time for the Canadian junior to reap the rewards of finishing first in Group A at the world junior hockey championship. The Canadian juniors complete the preliminary round of the tournament on Sunday when they face Slovakia. Then they have two days without having to play a game to prepare for Wednesday's semifinals.
Head coach Craig Hartsburg likes the idea of Canada having Monday and Tuesday off to prepare for the medal
round. "You do not have to play that extra game and you look at some of the teams that are playing the
back-to-back (games) at the end of the
No one is expecting the Canadians to let up when the play Slovakia. "In some ways it is a meaningless game but we don't look at it that way," said Andrew Cogliano. "It's a game we want to win." "The challenge for us is making sure we are focused and we are trying to be a better team," said Hartsburg. "We have to keep building and every day we have to find little things in our game to improve on."
Carey Price will get his fourth start in net. "We feel it is important to keep him going and keep him sharp. He has been very good and we want to keep him going. We talk about wanting to keep building but Price has played well. Corey's input on that, and I agree with him 100 per cent, is it is important that the goalie stays in there and keeps in the group."
The Canadian juniors are staying in a small hotel about a 10-minute walk from the main arena being used
for the world junior tournament.