Jarome turns it on
Iggy pops a pair in shutout
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
Team Canada's Jarome Iginla, left, is congratulated by teammates Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Eric Brewer, left to right, following his goal against Slovakia during the World Cup of Hockey Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2004 in Toronto. (CP PHOTO/Frank Gunn)
TORONTO -- Jarome Iginla arrived at the World Cup of Hockey here last night.
He didn't leave from somewhere at midnight, drive three hours and take the ice at 7 a.m. like he did when Wayne Gretzky gave him the call to drive down from Edmonton and join Canada's Olympic training camp in Calgary three years ago. And he hadn't really been missing. He'd just been missing opportunities.
But last night the St. Albert native who ended up as the hero of the Salt Lake City gold medal triumph, thanks to a little bit of help from his friends Mario Lemieux and Joe Sakic, ended up as the man of the match in Canada's 5-0 win over Slovakia in the quarter-final of the World Cup of Hockey.
Iginla said he couldn't help but think back to that call from Gretzky and that drive down from Edmonton to join Team Canada, and everything that's happened since including this latest chapter.
"That fall camp with the Olympic team helped me so much. Just skating with guys like Mario, Joe, Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan ... and now to play with Mario and Joe. It's a real treat playing with Mario and Joe. It's hard not to be, you know, a little bit in awe there.
"Throughout the tournament so far we've had some chances. They've set me up a lot. I mean they're such easy guys to play with. They are so down to earth that you miss a play and come back and they pat you on the back. Sometimes I can use that when the going gets tough out there."
SNAKE-BIT THROUGH THREE
Snake-bit throughout the first three games of the tournament, the Calgary Flames captain put a pair away to put Slovakia away as Canada advanced to Saturday's semifinal against the Czech Republic.
Mind you, it was kind of a downer when he did. His first goal, which provided Canada with a 2-0 lead early in the second period, had been awarded to Lemieux as his first of the tournament and the crowd delighted in chanting "Mario! Mario! Mario!" until the goal was changed at the start of the third period.
"No, I told Jarome right away. I thought it hit the defenceman's stick or skate. It never got to me," said Lemieux.
For the longest time there it didn't look like this was going to be a 5-0 game.
It might not have been the heebie-jeebies, exactly, but in the beginning Team Canada was a might uptight.
There was every reason to play a tad tentative in this one, not just because of the 'Belarus Factor' but because of the 'First Goal Factor,' which plagued the playoffs last year through to the Stanley Cup Final and has continued through this tournament.
Not only has the team which scored the first goal won every game but we've yet to see a single lead change.
While they were never in any real trouble because of the 'Martin Brodeur Factor,' Canada did chase this game from the moment Sakic lost the opening faceoff until Brad Richards threw a perfect goal-mouth pass to Vinnie Lecavalier for his first goal of the tournament two minutes and change into the second period.
"We had to make sure we were patient through this thing. We weren't real good at it in the beginning but we certainly got better after the first period and talked about it a little more," said coach Pat Quinn.
"We watched the Swedes get impatient and the Russians get impatient. Credit to our guys to hang in there and not let that sense of urgency and the fact that everybody wanted us to put on a big display hurt us."
The Canadians were down 4-0 in shots when Iginla was set up by Sakic for a shorthanded goal called back on a ruling that goaltender Jan Lasak had been pushed into the net with the puck.
SMYTH LEADS CANADA
Three minutes after the seal had been broke on the game, Iginla scored his first goal. Ryan Smyth became Team Canada's leading scorer when he climbed Mount Chara without a Sherpa midway in the second period for his third goal of the tournament. The honour of being Canada's leading scorer lasted the grand total of 19 seconds until Sakic scored his third to grab back a share of the team scoring lead. Iginla made it 5-0 in the third.
But as much as Iginla stole the storyline, this was a story more about the line than one member of the line.
"They've been working well all the way," said Quinn. "They've really been providing leadership for us and have had some good play throughout the round robin.
"Tonight they broke free. They were really sharp around the puck. Mario made a couple of really terrific plays. Jarome found the good spots to be. It's fun when you see that very talented guys can show discipline on defence to create those opportunities. They made quick, smart plays.
"I mean, that was beautiful to watch for anybody who loves this game. That's the payday for the good work they've been doing."