Canada 7 - Italy 2
CANADA SURVIVES SLOW START TO REGISTER MEN’S HOCKEY WIN OVER ITALY
Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team took to the ice approximately 30 hours after touching down in Turin, and through the first period, the team looked like a work in progress. Canada carried the play, and had some promising moments but came out of the first period with only a 1-0 lead over the very underdog Italian team. However, Italy had the support of the majority of the crowd, which including loud cheers every time Italy touched the puck, cleared the puck out of their zone or even crossed the Canadian blueline.
Jarome Iginla was Canada’s only scorer in the first, taking a perfect touch pass from Todd Bertuzzi and beating the Canadian-born goaltender for Italy, former NHLer Jason Muzzatti. Canada outshot Italy 11-9 in that first period but the majority of Italy’s chances came from the outside, and Martin Brodeur looked solid from the outset.
Italy capitalized on an early powerplay in the second, as Canadian-born Giulio Scandella tipped a point shot by Brodeur at 0:43, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Over a minute later, the frenzy died down as Martin St-Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Dany Heatley combined on a nifty three-way passing play, with Heatley putting Canada ahead 2-1 at 1:55.
At 5:38, right off a face off and a Chris Pronger shot, the puck came to Shane Doan, whose spin backhand had eyes, and snuck through Muzzatti. Canada made it 4-1 less than a minute later on a power play, as Iginla took advantage of Bertuzzi’s screen to register his second goal of the game.
Martin St-Louis registered his first Olympic goal, taking a Heatley pass alone in front and outwaiting Muzzatti to make it 5-1. Brad Richards made it 6-1, before John Parco added a second goal for Italy, giving Canada a 6-2 lead through two periods. Shots on net through the second period favoured Canada 39-14.
Joe Thornton added a marker in the third, and Canada opened the Olympics Winter Games with a convincing 7-1 win over Italy.
Just prior to the game, Canada announced that a rotation of Rob Blake, Simon Gagné, Jarome Iginla , Chris Pronger would act as alternate captains. Joe Sakic was announced as Canada’s captain on December 21, 2005, the day that the roster was announced.
Canada will now face Germany on February 16th, at 8 pm (local time)/2 pm (ET).
PLAYERS TO WATCH ON TEAM CANADA
Fifty years after his father Denis helped Canada to a bronze medal in Cortina, Italy, goaltender Martin Brodeur is back in Italy looking for a second consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Center Joe Thornton is an Olympic rookie, but he has been sizzling in the NHL, only trailing Jaromir Jagr in NHL scoring, and, with 56 assists, leads by a commanding margin in this category as well.
Forward Simon Gagné has been one of the top goalscorers in the NHL all season, currently ranking 2nd, with 35 goals, one goal behind league leader Ilya Kovalchuk
Defenceman Wade Redden leads the NHL with a +32 plus/minus going into the Olympic break.
Defencemen Chris Pronger and Bryan McCabe rank 2nd and 3rd in average ice time per game in the NHL.
Five of Canada’s seven defencemen rank among the top 15 scoring defencemen in the NHL (McCabe 50 – 2nd; Niedermayer 42 – 6th; Redden 42 – 7th; Blake 37 – 12th; Pronger 37 – 13th)
PLAYERS TO WATCH ON TEAM ITALY
Goaltender Jason Muzzatti will be a key player if Italy is to remain competitive among the best hockey countries in the World. Calgary Flames’ fans will recall that Muzzatti has NHL experience, and he’s even played some games with Canada’s National Men’s Team.
Forward Lucio Topatigh makes a return to international hockey with Italy at the age of 40 years old. A scoring and abrasive winger in his younger days, Topatigh suspended his work at a bakery to train and earn a spot on Italy’s roster. Expect him to be both a fan and media favourite.
A trio made up of Dino Felicetti and Canadians Mario Chitaroni and Giuseppe “Joe” Busillo was Italy’s go-to line at the 2005 Group I B Championship, amassing fourteen points between them.
Defenceman Roland Ramoser was Italy’s second top scorer at the 2005 event, and scored the winning goal against France to help Italy earn promotion to the top level World Championship