MYTISCHI, Russia (CP) - As the Canadian equipment managers packed up the team's belongings at this suburban arena on Monday night, the players had history on their minds heading into the big games at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
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Finland 4 - Canada 2
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Jay McClement had just made it with a record-setting goal, Matthew Lombardi had taught it after scoring his third of the night and the team was preaching it after booking a quarter-final date with Switzerland.
A 6-3 victory over the United States on Monday gave Canada its sixth straight win and first place in its pool. They will play this world championship without a loss if they are to come home with a gold medal.
The next step in achieving that goal will be taken down the road at Khodynka Arena, where the Canadians host Switzerland in the quarters on Thursday. The Swiss beat Canada 2-0 at the Turin Olympics the last time the countries met.
"Getting beat by the Swiss team and whatnot, it's going to happen more than we like it to."
The international game may be getting tougher, but there are some friendly historical facts in which the team can take comfort:
- Canada has 21 wins and two ties in 23 games against Switzerland at this tournament.
- The last two times a Canadian team went undefeated in the first six games, it came home with gold medals in 2003 and 1994.
Forward Mike Cammalleri is among the players who put some significance in the team's solid start, which included five wins in regulation and one in overtime.
"It does mean something," said Cammalleri, who scored twice on Monday. "It means we found a way to win all these games and they've been competitive games. We're going to take that experience onto the next round."
They finished this round with a win that hardly seemed in doubt after the team's best period of the tournament in the first.
McClement got things started in style before several fans had even found their seats. He walked over the U.S. blue-line and beat goalie John Grahame with a hard shot eight seconds in - the fastest goal ever scored to open a world championship game by Canada.
"Hats off to them," American defenceman Andy Greene said with a wry smile. "It's good to be part of history."
It was also the first time in the tournament Canada had opened the scoring in a game.
"Hopefully we can start a streak of doing that now," said McClement.
They kept coming, too, with Cammalleri scoring on a power play at 2:05, Lombardi getting his first of the game at 12:48 and Cammalleri extending the lead to 4-0 before the period was even out.
The Americans came out with a stronger second period. Paul Stastny's first of two on the night made it 4-1 before American Lee Stempniak scored to make it 5-2 during the only stretch of the game the Canadians were unhappy with.
"Things were a little nervous for awhile there in the second period," said Canadian coach Andy Murray. "It's one of those ones as a coach you realize you're up 4-0, you're playing back to back games and guys take the pedal off the gas a little bit."
Lombardi completed his hat trick in the third period and hardly celebrated afterwards. The fans in the stands followed his lead as only one hat was tossed onto the ice.
Strangely, there were several fans wearing Canadian colours and gear in the stands. Call it a lesson learned - they'll know what to do next time.
"I was wondering what was going on there," said Cammalleri. "I just think that with the language barrier maybe they didn't know what was going on."
Added Lombardi: "I saw that one red one. Whoever threw it out, I appreciate it."
With another win in their pockets, the Canadians will have two days to think about a Swiss team that struggled to score in this tournament. Switzerland has 11 goals in six games and was held to just eight shots in a preliminary round meeting with Sweden.
One thing coach Murray won't have to do during the off days is educate his players about what happened in Italy at the last Olympics. Almost all of them mentioned it following Monday night's win.
"It's one game," said McClement. "It's happened many times before."
Said Cammalleri: "Maybe years ago that used to happen at these type of events and it was a big shock back in Canada. Those days are long gone."
The only player who wasn't talking about the Olympic loss during post-game interviews was forward Jamal Mayers.
He had reasons of his own for that.
"I'm only a believer in history if it's good," said Mayers. "If it's nothing good, I don't want to hear it."