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Spezza, Canada blank Belarus in worlds opener

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Canada is off to a winning start at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers scored twice as Canada dumped Belarus 4-1 in its worlds opener in Kosice, Slovakia. Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes and John Tavares of the New York Islanders also had goals for Canada, whose roster also includes Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza.

James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs made 21 saves in goal for the win.

Also Friday in Kosice, Switzerland blanked France 1-0 on a goal by former Senators defenceman Julien Vauclair. Ottawa rookie forward Stephane Da Costa is a member of the French team.

Spezza and Da Costa will square off Sunday at the Steel Arena in Kosice in the second game of the tournament for both Canada and France (10:15 a.m., TSN).

In games played in Bratislava, Germany shocked Russia 2-0 and the host Slovaks dumped Slovenia 3-1.

Cowen, Spokane even up WHL conference final

Now it's down to a best-of-three for Jared Cowen and the Spokane Chiefs.

The Senators defence prospect and Chiefs captain picked up an assist Friday night in a 8-3 rout of the Portland Winterhawks in Western Hockey League playoff action Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. The result tied up the best-of-seven Western Conference final at 2-2. Game 5 goes Saturday night at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.

The series winner advances to the WHL final against the Kootenay Ice, with the eventual victor representing the league at the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup, which runs May 20-29 in Mississauga, Ont. The tournament hosts are the Mississauga St. Mike's Majors, which are owned by Senators proprietor Eugene Melnyk.

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