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Gerber, Swiss off to 2-0 start

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
There’s something about Martin Gerber and the Swiss jersey, it seems.

The Ottawa Senators goaltender’s standout play has helped his homeland's team get off to a 2-0 start at the 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championship, including today’s 2-1 victory over Belarus at the Pepsi Colisée in Quebec City. That result, combined with Saturday’s vanquishing of France by a 4-1 count, has assured the Swiss a berth in the second round of the tournament.

Switzerland concludes its preliminary round play against Group A favourite Sweden on Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Colisée.

Gerber has been stellar for the Swiss, stopping 47-of-49 shots he’s faced so far while posting a .959 save percentage. Against France, he aided the offence by contributing an assist on Switerland’s fourth goal, scored by Senators prospect Roman Wick.

This tournament marks the eighth time Gerber has represented his country internationally at a major competition, including four previous world championships, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2002 Salt Lake City and 2006 Torino Olympics.

His most famous moment, as hockey fans here might remember, came two years ago in the Winter Games in Italy, when he turned aside all 49 shots he faced as Switzerland stunned Canada 2-0. His performance at his first worlds, in 2000, played a big role in convincing the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to select Gerber in the eighth round of the National Hockey League’s entry draft a year later.

The 33-year-old native of Burgdorf, Switerland, signed with the Senators as a free agent in July 2006.

In today’s game, Belarus iced a roster bolstered by Sergei and Andrei Kostitsyn – whose season with the Montreal Canadiens ended Saturday night – along with Colorado Avalanche blueliner Ruslan Salei. But tight Swiss defensive play in front of Gerber barred the door in the third period as Belarus pressed for the equalizer.

“We knew the Kostitsyn brothers were good, and that it was a strong team off the rush,” Gerber told “We said we had to be careful and avoid giveaways.”

Schubert, Germany sink Slovakia

Senators defenceman Christoph Schubert had an assist as Germany upset Slovakia 4-2 tonight in Halifax, keeping alive its hopes of advancing out of Group C into the qualification round.

Germany, which lost its tournament opener to Finland 5-1 on Saturday, finishes off preliminary-round play Wednesday against winless Norway. If the Germans win, they would join 11 other teams in the qualification round, which begins Thursday.

Finland leads the group with a 2-0-0 record, while Slovakia is now 1-1-0.

Canada, U.S. in early showdown Tuesday

Top spot in Group B is on the line when unbeaten Canada and the U.S. meet Wednesday at the Halifax Metro Centre (3:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200).  Both are 2-0-0 after recording easy wins over Slovenia and Latvia.

Check out a game preview of the Canada-U.S. matchup here.

For more World Championship coverage, click here.

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