Kassian plays it safe

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:24 PM ET

BUFFALO - For at least one game, the International Ice Hockey Federation got through to Zack Kassian.

The Canadian forward, all 6-feet-3 and 226 pounds of him, returned to the lineup against Switzerland after serving a two-game suspension for a check to the head of Czech forward Petr Senkerik during a preliminary-round game.

"I think I played a little smarter," Kassian said. "When it's a 3-1 game, I was not trying to run around and hit guys too much. I wanted to keep it safe. I didn't want to run around, because in international hockey, you never know what you are going to get."

Kassian, whose hit on Senkerik left the Czech with a minor concussion, can't afford to take unnecessary penalties on Monday night in a semifinal against the United States. The Americans' talent among its forwards is such that giving them extra-man advantages could be deadly.

For Kassian, who scored into an empty Swiss net to seal Canada's victory, watching from the press box at HSBC Arena for the win versus Norway and a loss to Sweden mentally was difficult.

"You want to come back and do something for your team," Kassian, a Buffalo Sabres prospect, said. "Sitting up above was not a good feeling. If your team loses, you want to lose with your team. You don't want to be sitting up there cheering."

Those who didn't have a choice on Sunday afternoon, i.e., the paying spectators, liked what they saw in Casey Cizikas, who scored the winning goal at 17:28 of the second period.

During a 2-on-1 with Louis Leblanc, Cizikas held onto the puck so long that the play resembled slow motion. When the Swiss defenceman took away the pass, Cizikas, who wanted to give the puck to Leblanc, picked the top corner on goaltender Benjamin Conz.

"Once you have one thing on your mind, that's all you are thinking about," Cizikas said. "You're not thinking about shooting the puck. It was a quick reaction."

Nothing new to Canada coach Dave Cameron, whose captain with the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors is Cizikas.

"He had a great rebound game," Cameron said. "I did not think he had a great game (against Sweden), but I thought he played his game, which is energy, smart, competitive and good penalty killing. He scored a big goal, but that is not what drives him. He did all the little things (well)."

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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