Team Canada rolls over Germany and dodges a serious leg injury to its captain
TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun
|Canada's Stephen Dixon celebrates teammate Clarke MacArthur's goal against Germany during first period World Junior Hockey taking place in Grand Forks, N.D. on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004.(CP PHOTO/Jonathan Hayward)
Canada trounced Germany last night with the ease everyone expected but had to dodge a potential land mine in the process. Coach Brent Sutter said after the 9-0 victory that captain Michael Richards will be fine, even though the heart-and-soul leader left the game early in the second period favouring his right leg and may have suffered a charley horse.
"It was more of a precautionary situation," Sutter said. "If it was a different (kind of game), he probably would have played. I thought it was best for him to get iced down so he is ready to go for our next game (tomorrow versus Finland)."
Richards, who also is captain of the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, provided the lone moment of suspense for Canada. Few figured Canada would have much to worry in the round-robin portion of the 2005 world junior championship, and that belief held true again at the Ralph Engelstad Arena here in Grand Forks, N.D.
Following earlier one-sided triumphs against Slovakia and Sweden, Canada got two goals each from Sidney Crosby and Anthony Stewart to continue its march.
Canada did not find the back of the net until Andrew Ladd scored midway through the first period, but it's not as though the partisan Canadian crowd of 8,404 was wringing its hands with concern.
Even German assistant coach and former NHL defenceman Uwe Krupp said it was an honour for his players to share the ice with Canada.
"For us, playing against Canada is sort of like David and Goliath," Krupp said. "We treated this game as, more or less, that we had to play it and hopefully nobody got injured. For some of the boys it's a highlight of their hockey career (to play Canada)."
Crosby helped make it a little more memorable, as the 17-year-old tied a tournament record by a Canadian. Crosby scored his fifth power-play goal of the tournament, tying the mark set by Eric Daze in 1995.
Crosby, who was not made available to the media by Hockey Canada after the game, needs one more power-play goal to set a record for most in a world-junior career by a Canadian, held by Daze and Todd Harvey.
There was redemption for Stewart, a Scarborough native who plays for the Kingston Frontenacs. Stewart, who tied for the team lead in scoring at the 2004 world junior, had been relegated to the 13th forward spot against Sweden before Jeremy Colliton was hurt.
"It's great to get the monkey off my back," said Stewart, who also had an assist. "It's an emotional high right now. I just wanted my chance, and once I got my chance I could prove what I could do."
Clarke MacArthur, Cam Barker, Ryan Getzlaf and Colin Fraser also scored for Canada. Rejean Beauchemin made 17 saves for a shutout in his tournament debut. Colliton, nursing his leg injury, did not dress.
Barring an unforeseen disaster, Canada should beat Finland tomorrow night to finish the round-robin 4-0 and advance to a semi-final on Sunday. Keep in mind that in each of the past two years, Canada was 4-0 in the round-robin and won the semi before losing by one goal in the gold-medal match.
"Sometimes these (lopsided) games are the toughest to play," Ladd said. "You can get lackadaisical and tend to get bad habits. But I think we did a pretty good job of sticking to what we wanted to do.
"We're creatures of habit. If we can play 60 minutes a game, we'll be ready when we need to be."