Canadians roll into semis

Canada's Geoff Snider runs for the ball after beating Finland's Roope Jokitalo on the faceoff...

Canada's Geoff Snider runs for the ball after beating Finland's Roope Jokitalo on the faceoff during their World Lacrosse Tournament matchup at TD Waterhouse Stadium on Wednesday. (London Free Press/Craig Glover)

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

The semifinals were predictable. Now they are official.

The top four teams from the elite group are where they expected to be, with Canada playing the Iroquois Nation today in one world lacrosse championships semi and the U.S. facing Australia in the other at the University of Western Ontario's TD Waterhouse Stadium.

Obviously there's no mercy rule in world lacrosse, otherwise the game between Canada and Finland before a couple of thousand fans would never have started.

Finland had a fledgling team in its first foray into the world championships and Canada clobbered them 27-2.

Canada at times appeared embarrassed by the score, not wanting to make a farce of a sport that is developing on the world stage.

Canadian star Gary Gait said the game may have been a laugher, but "I think we know what the game is all about. This is giving the emerging countries an appreciation of what they need to work on and improve."

After the attack trio of Gait, John Grant Jr. and Jeff Zywicki had their exercise for the night, everyone got field time and the chance to add points to their resume -- and the score began to soar.

Canadian alternate goalie Kyle Miller also saw action.

The Finns weren't dispirited by the blowout.

"It doesn't matter what the score was," said defender Mika Wickstrom, 25. "Just to be in the our first world championship against that team and on this field and with this crowd was important.

"The Finnish media noticed us somehow."

Zywicki scored four goals for Canada, Gait, Shawn Williams and A.J. Shannon had three each and Gavin Prout, Colin Doyle and Andy Turner had two apiece. Even defender Jim Moss, a former London Knights captain, scored.

Wickstrom, who played soccer and ice hockey before taking up lacrosse 3 1/2 years ago, said he tried it because he thought the stickhandling and bodychecking of hockey would stand him in good stead.

"It was kind of a dream to play here," said Wickstrom, who had the job of checking Gait. "I knew him as a legend in the game and watched him on DVDs and the Internet."

Finland had two things to cheer in the first quarter.

The first was a milestone goal at 7:12, when Erik Vachon beat Chris Sanderson in the Canada net. It was the first goal Finland had scored against a true world power.

The second was when Roope Jokitalo won a faceoff against probably the most skilled faceoff artist in the game, Geoff Snider.

James Butler scored the Finns' second goal in the second quarter. Canada led 11-2 at the half, while looking less than inspired to run up the score.


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