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Canada Wins Group C By Beating Slovakia

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
After struggling to beat lesser-known hockey powers Germany and Norway in their first two games of the tournament, Team Canada prevailed against the much tougher Slovakian team on Wednesday, even if the margin of victory was no more convincing.

Canada emerged from this game with a 5-4 victory against a team with NHL stars such as Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra, Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara in order to win Group C and set themselves up for a qualifying date with Belarus on Friday.

Slovakia has eight NHL players on its roster, while Canada's first two opponents only had one between them - the Edmonton Oilers' Patrick Thoreson, who plays for Norway.

Unlike other games in the tournament, the Hurricanes players were relatively quiet in this one.  Dwayne Roloson started in goal for Canada in place of Cam Ward, while Mike Commodore, Eric Staal and Justin Williams were kept off  the score sheet.  It was the first game for either the United States or Canada that a Hurricanes player did not earn a point.

Ward may very well get the start in Canada's next game, with the Oilers' Roloson allowing a goal from center ice against Germany and letting in four more tallies against the Slovakians.  The other option is Nashville backup Chris Mason, who played in 40 regular season games for the Predators this year.

Ward played in Canada's second game against Norway, stopping 21 of 23 shots.

The biggest stories for Canada in this game were the play of Jonathan Toews, a 19-year-old draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks who had two assists, and Cory Murphy, a European-based defenseman who some think will follow in the footsteps of the New Jersey Devils' Brian Rafalski, who took a similar route to the NHL.

Both of those players now have three points in three games.

With Canada set to play at 8:15 a.m. EDT on Friday, the next time that Hurricanes players will be in action is at the same time Thursday, when they face Slovakia.

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