Canada wins opener at hockey worlds
Stamkos opens tournament with 2 highlight-reel goals against Belarus
It was about an hour after Canada beat Belarus 6-1 at the men's world hockey championship on Friday when Belarus coach Glen Hanlon recalled a team meeting he convened prior to the team's arrival in Switzerland.
"People asked, 'What's the dress code?' And I said I don't care. Wear what you wear but you can't wear Hockey Canada stuff," said Hanlon, who is in his second year with the Belarus national team and his first as head coach.
"We'd go to [pre-tournament] games and they would have Hockey Canada stuff on, and Hockey Canada shirts. I would go, 'Guys, we are trying to beat these guys. You can wear what you want but leave all your Hockey Canada stuff at home.' I have no idea where they get it. I said no more buying Hockey Canada stuff. That is it."
In Hanlon’s eyes, second-tier teams like Belarus and Hungary, which is Canada’s next opponent, are in tough at the world tournament when they play powerhouse teams like Canada.
"We need to believe," said Hanlon, a Brandon, Man., native who lives in Vancouver. He will decide whether to stay with the program after the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
The Canadians dominated the game in Zurich from the outset and the outcome was never in doubt, although there was a point in the second period when a disallowed Belarus goal would have sliced Canada's lead to 2-1.
Goalie Dwayne Roloson stumbled behind the goal and he dislodged the right side of the net as he scrambled to get back into position. It just happened that Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhael Grabovski shot the puck into a wide-open net at the same time, but the goal was disallowed after a video review because the net was off its mooring.
"They should have given Canada at least a [delay-of-game] penalty," said Hanlon, who since being fired as head coach of the Washington Capitals has coached in Latvia, Finland and Belarus.
Stamkos raises eyebrows
Canada's youngest player, Steve Stamkos, 19, scored two highlight-reel goals and showed off his hand skills early on.
He drove to the net and tapped a cross-ice pass by Tampa Bay Lightning linemate Martin St. Louis to open the scoring at 1:05 of the first period. Then at 14:29 Stamkos beautifully redirected a Drew Doughty pass to make it 2-0. Stamkos had a chance to get a hat trick in the third when he passed on trying to bank a shot off the back of the Belarus goalie.
"I was thinking about it. It definitely crossed my mind," he said.
Roloson, who at 39 is the oldest member of this year's Canadian squad, enjoyed watching Stamkos.
"The kid is very patient," said Roloson. "I have a lot more respect for him now. I only saw him once this year and he has a feel for the puck, that is for sure."
Dany Heatley scored his team-record 33rd and 34th goals in his 44th game for Canada’s national team, while Ottawa Senators teammates Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher also scored.
Grabovski broke Roloson's shutout bid at 12:44 of the third period.
Canada's next game is Sunday and they know nothing about Hungary, which is coached by Montreal's Pat Cortina.
Page 5 of the Hungary media guide states "Hungary: Hungary for Success," but how they measure success against Canada will be interesting to see.
In Hanlon’s eyes, having success, part of getting to the next level, is wearing your own colours.
"No more Hockey Canada stuff," he said.
In other action in Switzerland, Russia cruised to a 5-0 win over Germany. Atlanta Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk and Oleg Saprykin were among the goal scorers, with Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov making 20 saves for the shutout.
Onetime NHLer Lubos Bartecko scored his second goal of the game with 13 seconds left to lift Slovakia to a 4-3 squeaker over Hungary. Former Montreal Canadiens draft pick Marcel Hossa added a goal and two assists for the winners.
Goalie Martin Gerber had a 14-save shutout in Switzerland's 1-0 win over France. Fabrice Lhenry starred in goal for the losers with 40 saves.