LEKSAND, Sweden -- Blake Geoffrion can't help but think of his grandfather each time he steps on the ice.
The 18-year-old forward with the United States was close to Bernie Geoffrion, who passed away last March. And it is no coincidence that Geoffrion wears No. 5, the number his grandfather wore with the Canadiens.
"Yes sir, absolutely," Geoffrion said when asked if the number was a homage to his elder. "Hockey was what we always talked about when Papi came around. He was an awesome guy and I loved him to death. I know my grandfather is with me every step in life."
Blake Geoffrion, whose great-grandfather is another Hall of Famer, Howie Morenz, was on the ice at the Bell Centre in March when the Habs raised No. 5 to the rafters. Bernie Geoffrion passed away earlier that day.
"It was very emotional," said Blake, whose father, Daniel, also played in the NHL.
The younger Geoffrion had an assist and killed penalties yesterday as the U.S. finally won, beating Slovakia 6-1.
"The first couple of games, we tried to be fancy and I think that hurt us," Geoffrion said. "We had a lot of meetings and video sessions and it helped."
KEEP THEM COMING
The Canadian players are thrilled with the support they are getting from home.
"I've got pages of emails," forward Steve Downie said. "We got the odd one from family or a friend, but for the most part, they are random messages, so it is nice. It's motivation to know you are supported by the whole country back home and that is a big part of this for us."
Sam Gagner concurred with Downie.
"It gives everyone confidence," the young winger said. "Nobody loves hockey like Canada does."
Canadian coach Craig Hartsburg's grandparents on his dad's side spoke Swedish and were from Finland. "I'm a little bit familiar with some things," Hartsburg said. "My grandma used to make some of the same breads and stuff." ... Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter said yesterday he does not think his brother, Brent Sutter, will return to coach Canada's junior team next year. Brent's son Brandon could play next winter. Brent went 12-0 as coach and won gold medals in 2005 and 2006.