Canada jumped out to a big early lead en route to a 7-1 win over HC Vitkovice Steel in the opener for both teams Monday at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland.
Brett McLean of Comox, Joel Kwiatkowski, Domenic Pittis, Mark Hartigan and Rico Fata scored in the first period for the Canadians, who completely outplayed their Czech opponents. Defenceman Shawn Heins picked up two assists.
McLean, who is playing for Rockford of the AHL (Chicago Blackhawks affiliate) this season, made it 4-0 with a pretty deflection on a two-man advantage off a point shot from Heins at 10:08 and Fata stretched the lead with a backhand deke on a breakaway at 17:15.
Canada played the host Davos team Wednesday in their final preliminary round game and suffered an 8-1 setback. Canada took on Wolfsburg in Thursday’s quarter-finals, with result unavailable at press time. Semifinals go today with the championship at 6 a.m. PT Saturday. Fans can follow the games and The Royston Rocket on TSN or TSN2.
The Spengler Cup, which organizers say is the oldest professional international hockey tournament in the world, has been held in the picturesque mountain town of Davos since 1923. The competition features five European club teams and a Canadian entry comprised largely of European-based pros.
Canada has appeared in nine of the last 11 Spengler Cup finals, last winning the tournament in 2007.
The format offers little margin for error. After opening with two round-robin games, the tournament shifts into a sudden-death playoff round. The championship game will be played on New Year’s Eve.
For those who prefer to see their international hockey live instead of on the television, a New Year’s Eve treat awatis.
At 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31 Happy’s Source for Sports Chiefs Midget Tier 1 team is taking on a visiting squad from Alaska.
“We would love to fill the stands for this exciting game of hockey,” a Comox Valley Minor Hockey Association spokesperson said.