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Canada Easily Handles Italy

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

February 15, 2006

TURIN, Italy (CP) -- Jarome Iginla scored twice as a travel-weary Team Canada dominated a plucky but overmatched Italy 7-2 to open the 2006 Winter Olympics on Wednesday.

Dany Heatley, Shane Doan, Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and Joe Thornton also scored for Canada, which did not look sharp despite the offensive barrage against an Italian team that has nine Canadian-born and two U.S.-born players.

Canada was playing only 27 hours after crossing six time zones to get to Turin. Still the Canadians had a 50-20 shot advantage on Italy, which is ranked 19th in the world by the IIHF.

Giulio Scandella and John Parco replied for the Italians.

"There are a lot of Canadians on the team so they got a lot to prove,'' Todd Bertuzzi told CBC. "They came out hungry and they had a great crowd out there and a lot of great fans. It was an entertaining game.''

It was a far cry from the stunning 5-2 loss to Sweden the Canadians suffered in the opening game of the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City before they recovered to win the gold medal.

But they will need to be sharper in their second round-robin game Thursday against Germany, which is missing NHL sharpshooters Jochen Hecht and Marco Strum but has Washington veteran Olaf Kolzig in goal.

The Italians, boosted by a chanting, flag-waving crowd at Palasport Olympico, put up a good fight in the first period, taking the body and going down to block shots to keep Canada at bay.

Canada converted its first power play of the game on a tic-tac-toe play 5:33 into the match from Joe Sakic at the right point to Bertuzzi in the corner to Iginla in the right circle for a quick shot that gave Jason Muzzatti, a Toronto native and former NHL goaltender, no chance for the save.

The crowd went wild as Italy tied the game with the man advantage on a power play 43 seconds into the middle period.

Toronto native Joe Cirone fed Scandella for a low shot that sneaked between Martin Brodeur's pads. Scandella, of Montreal, was credited with the goal but it appeared Cirone deflected it.

Only 1:12 later, Heatley finished a three-on-one rush with Vincent Lecavalier and St. Louis and the rout was on.

Doan spun and beat Muzzatti from the slot at 5:38 and Iginla got his second of the game on a power play shot through a perfect screen by Bertuzzi.

St. Louis cut in front to take Heatley's pass and score at 13:53 and Richards made it 6-1 from in close at 14:38.

Bertuzzi said there was no worry on the bench when Italy tied the game 1-1.

"Not at all, not with the amount of character we have,'' he said. "We know what we have to do, we came out strong in the second period, we kept building and building, our passes got better and we started scoring goals.''

The Italians were on their feet again as Bryan McCabe batted the puck out of the air right to Tony Tuzzolito, who fed Parco, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for low shot that beat Brodeur.

Thornton scored on a long shot through traffic on a power play at 3:39 of the final period.

Notes: Canada named four alternate captains before the game - Iginla, Rob Blake, Simon Gagne and Chris Pronger. Iginla and Pronger wore the A against Italy and Blake and Gagne will wear it Wednesday against Germany. Sakic is the captain . . . Following international tradition, Sakic and Italian captain Joe Busillo of Toronto exchanged team pennants before the game.

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