Fans providing inspiration

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

It began with a spontaneous rendition of O Canada, perfectly timed to end with the opening faceoff.

It continued with the unfurling of a giant Canadian flag, probably 40 feet by 20, in the upper level.

And it didn't stop until the official playing of the national anthem following yesterday's 4-2 playoff win over Finland.

Team Canada continues to be overwhelmed by the support of its fans.

"I walk out that hall with chills down my spine," head coach Craig Hartsburg said. "When you see that, it's amazing. You can't thank 'em enough."

Assistant captain Brad Marchand tried.

"I don't think anyone could miss that flag -- it was pretty nice to see," Marchand said. "To have as many people come over here to the Czech and cheer us on, it's unbelievable. We wouldn't be able to do any of this if it wasn't for them.

"We get messages from people every day, we have no idea who they are. Our whole team wants to thank everyone out there for all the support."

The coach did wonder a bit about the pre-game anthem, though.

"I was thinking, 'Don't get too far ahead of ourselves, here,'" Hartsburg said.

AROUND THE WJHC: Anyone who wondered if the Russians can play defence, take note of this: they limited the Czechs to 13 shots in yesterday's quarter-final, four in a first period in which they played shorthanded half the time ... Russia's leading scorer is Viktor Tikhonov, grandson of the former Russian coach of the same name ... The Americans have three of the tournament's top-four scorers: James van Riemsdyk (10 points), Colin Wilson and Jordan Schroeder (seven each) ... As the higher seeded teams coming out of pool play, the United States and Sweden will be the home teams for tomorrow's semifinals.


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