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Canada Heads to Semifinals

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Matthew Lombardi had two goals as Canada won 5-1 to remain unbeaten and knock Switzerland out of the World Championships in the process.


With the win, Canada (7-0) advances to face powerhouse Sweden in the semifinals on Saturday (11:15 EDT).  Sweden, with a 5-1 record in this tournament, has dominated international play of late, having won both the Olympics and the World Championships in 2006, the first time any nation has won both in the same year.  They beat Slovakia 7-4 to advance to this year's semifinals.

Eric Staal was the only Hurricane to appear on the score sheet as he picked up two assists, giving him eight points in seven games.  His first assist came on Rick Nash's goal in the second period.  With Canada on a five-on-three power play, Staal corralled the rebound from Dion Phaneuf's shot from the point and sent a great cross-crease pass to Nash for the easy tap-in.

Canada continued to alternate goaltenders from game to game, with the Edmonton Oilers' Dwayne Roloson stopping 21 of 22 shots against the Swiss.  Unless coach Andy Murray has changed his plans and has chosen Roloson as his starter for the rest of the knock-out phase, it will be Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward's turn against Sweden.

Canada dominated offensive play as much as the score would indicate, heavily out-shooting the Swiss 44-22.

The two teams traded goals in a 38 second span midway through the second period.  St. Louis Blues forward Jamal Mayers struck first by shaking off a Swiss defender in the corner behind the opposition's net and cutting in front of goaltender Jonas Hiller before slamming home Canada's second goal of the game.  Paul DiPietro, a native of Canada who has been playing in Switzerland since 1998, then got his adopted nation's first goal with a partially-screened slap shot that beat Roloson cleanly.

Lombardi and Mayers have been surprising offensive forces for Team Canada.  Lombardi now has nine points in seven games, including five goals in his last two games, while Mayers has five points for the tournament.  Lombardi had 46 points for the Calgary Flames in 2006-07, while Mayers only scored 22 points for the Blues.

Canada's Shea Weber had the final goal of the game when he took a pass from Staal and rifled a slap shot past Hiller with two and a half minutes remaining.  Weber, who plays for the Nashville Predators, was suspended three games for a hard hit on Hurricanes defenseman Dennis Seidenberg's brother Yannic only minutes into Canada's first game against Germany. 

The Swiss continued to have trouble scoring goals, which has plagued them all tournament long.  Coming into this game, they had only 11 goals in six games - tied for second lowest among all the teams at the World Championships.

Like the Canadians, the Swiss also have a few Hurricanes connections.  Their head coach, Ralph Krueger, who has been with the Swiss national team since 1997, was hired as a part-time European scout for the Hurricanes just after the 2006 Olympics.  Also, the Swiss' third goaltender, 23-year-old Daniel Manzato, was a fifth-round draft choice of the Hurricanes in 2002.
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