by Paul Romanuk
It was easier to enjoy the day in the wake of an opening night 3-2 win over Germany (represented by the Krefeld Penguins). Canada displayed what has become a normal pattern in most international tournaments - a slow start, followed by increased confidence and, by the third period, a feeling that things are coming together. Goaltender Jamie Hodson (St. John’s Maple Leafs - AHL) was spectacular as he stopped a couple of breakaway chances and generally held his team in the game during a first period that featured frequent defensive breakdowns. Yves Sarault scored the winner for Canada 2:07 into the final period when he converted a beautiful pass from defenceman Chris Belanger. The other two Canadian goal scorers, Jean-Guy Trudel and Jame Pollock, were both making their Spengler Cup debut.
Canada’s next test will be Sunday night (8:45pm local time) against the powerful Finnish club team Jokerit. The Jokers feature former NHLers Sami Helanius(Calgary, Colorado, Dallas), Glenn Metropolit (Washington) and Todd Warriner (Toronto, Tampa Bay, Vancouver).
Canadian coach Gary Green juggled his game one line combinations around during practice. He should have a few more options for game two. He was a couple of forwards short and was forced to move defenceman Matt Kinch up front. Team captain Jan Alston was down with the flu and Mike Craig was still with his club team in Vienna, Austria. Both players will be in the line up for Sunday’s game. It is expected that veteran goaltender Wade Flaherty (Islanders, San Jose) will make his Team Canada debut against Jokerit.