KLOTEN, Switzerland - Canada came up with a win for the ages in its opening game at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
Dwayne Roloson stopped 23 shots and became the oldest player ever to represent Canada in the tournament, while teenager Steven Stamkos scored twice in a 6-1 win over Belarus on Friday. There is an age difference of more than 20 years between the oldest and youngest player on the Canadian squad. It hardly mattered on a day when the team was playing together for the very first time.
Dany Heatley, with two, Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher also had goals for Canada.
Mikhail Grabovski replied for Belarus.
The other early game saw Russia blank Germany 5-0. Later Friday, the host Swiss took on Latvia while Slovakia tangled with Hungary.
The Kloten Arena was roughly two-thirds full for Canada's tournament opener, but there was plenty of atmosphere. Canadian flags, shirts and jerseys were sprinkled throughout the arena and a group of local schoolchildren spent most of the afternoon chanting: "Canada! Canada!"
It was the kind of experience coach Lindy Ruff was hoping for in his first ever international assignment. He got a taste of the tournament while scouting last year's event in Quebec and Halifax.
"When I saw what the fans from other countries would do with the singing and chanting and how much they get into it, I thought it was pretty cool," Ruff said Thursday.
Stamkos gave the Canadian fans a reason to cheer on his very first shift. The 19-year-old raced past a defender and redirected a nice pass from linemate Martin St. Louis into the goal at 1:05.
The No. 1 overall pick in last year's NHL draft overcame a slow start to his rookie season with Tampa Bay to earn an invitation here from GM Doug Armstrong. Clearly, he's intent on making the most of it.
Stamkos beat goalie Vitali Koval for the second time at 14:29 of the first period. He cruised through the high slot and tipped a pass from fellow teenager Drew Doughty into the net while on a power play.
At the other end, Roloson was sharp.
One of the few mistakes the goalie made all game ended up working in his favour - Roloson got tied up with the post as Grabovski fired the puck into an empty cage late in the first period. However, the apparent goal was overturned because Roloson had knocked the net off its moorings while trying to scramble back to his crease.
It was a tough break for the Belarusians, who came out firing in the second period. Roloson stacked his pads to turn away Grabovski on a glorious opportunity before getting his glove on a shot from Oleg Antonenko.
Had Belarus been able to capitalize on those top-rate scoring chances, the game could have been tied heading into the third period.
Instead, Canada carried a 2-0 lead that got much more comfortable when Spezza, Fisher and Heatley - a trio of Ottawa Senators - scored just over six minutes apart.
Grabovski then spoiled Roloson's shutout bid at 12:44 before Heatley got his second of the night at 14:05. The final marker increased Heatley's career world championship total to 34 goals in 44 games - tops among all Canadian players since NHLers started coming to this event in 1977.
Roloson also earned an entry in the record book.
The Edmonton Oilers goalie surpassed Larry Murphy to become the oldest Canadian to play in the world championship at 39 years six months and 14 days.
Notes: Canada improved to 4-0-0 against Belarus at this event... Belarus has never finished higher than sixth at a world championship ... The Edmonton Oilers continue to be the NHL team with the most Canadian players to compete in this tournament at 32 ... Flanked by two cheerleaders, Kloten mayor Rene Huber welcomed everyone to "ice hockey country" before the game ... Switzerland is hosting the tournament for a record 10th time.