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Off the ice with Brian Rafalski

by John Dellapina
VANCOUVER -- Brian Rafalski scored two timely goals, assisted on a third and seemingly was in the middle of everything of significance that transpired during Sunday's  scintillating 5-3 Team USA victory over Canada.

Just off the Canada Hockey Place ice, Rafalski spent a couple of minutes with -- How important was it to score a goal right away – your shot that beat Martin Brodeur just 41 seconds into the game?

Rafalski -- Obviously, that’s a good start for us. It put a lot more pressure on them and they had to expend a lot of energy. They outshot us for the period. But when they tied it up we responded and were able to get ahead again. -- Having stunned Canada right off the opening faceoff, you then scored again just 22 seconds after the Canadians had tied the game midway through the second period. How important was that?

Rafalski -- I think that was huge for us. Even though we didn’t have the best first period, they came out flying and we came out with the lead. I think we got stronger as the game went on. -- Can you compare this to any game you’ve played in before?

Rafalski -- Obviously. (the) Stanley Cup Finals. Gold medal. It’s a little different on the NHL ice compared to the Olympic ice, though. Everything happens a little faster. And it’s a fast game – every line of theirs skates well. And they’re big bodies and they were skating well.

We weathered the storm in the second and were able to come out on top. That power play goal (by Jamie Langenbrunner 7:09 into the third that made it 4-2) I thought was huge for us.

Team USA -- What did you accomplish today?

Rafalski -- Obviously, we get an extra day off, which is great. My family just came in last night, so I’ll finally get to see them. But this was good for us. It was good to see our team come out and score some big goals and finish when we had to. -- How do you stand up to those gigantic Canadian forwards coming at you shift after shift?

Rafalski -- You do it every game in the NHL. Now, you just have four lines that do it.
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