MINSK, Belarus - With all due respect to their opponents on Friday, Team Canada has been ultimately preparing for their Sunday matchup against Sweden, who, entering Friday, was tied for Canada for top spot in Group A . But until then, the Canadians had another task at hand: to beat Italy.
It may seem like a mismatch on paper and, fortunately for the Canadians, it was a mismatch on the ice, too. After their convincing 6-1 win over Denmark on Thursday, Team Canada duplicated the same lopsided score against the Italians, thanks in large part to explosive second period that saw them score four times.
After Joel Ward scored at 13:07 of the first period, Canada entered the intermission with a modest lead. But in the second, they pulled away as Cody Hodgson scored 1:39 into the frame and then again at the 16:04 mark. Those two goals were sandwiched by Jason Chimera and Kyle Turris tallies.
It was 5-0 after 40 minutes when both teams exchanged goals in the third. En route to the win, former King Brayden Schenn scored a goal and added an assist. Goaltender James Riemer was also good when he had to be, stopping 21 saves in the victory.
For general manager Rob Blake, his team has now improved to 4-0-1 with their much-anticipated matchup against the Swedes on Sunday.
Blake, who is currently in Southern California preparing for his Los Angeles Kings' Game 7 in Anaheim, will fly back to Minsk this weekend in time for Team Canada's showdown versus Sweden.
With their win over Italy, Canada temporarily moves into first place in Group A with 13 points, two ahead of Sweden. However, the Swedes do play later against Slovakia so at Friday's end, both countries could be tied once again.