After uneasy start, Canada calms down to take care of Russia Staff

12/26/2010 8:40:47 PM

It was an uneasy start for Canada in their customary Boxing Day opening match at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

But powered by a lethal man advantage and a steadying improvement in net from Olivier Roy, Canada eventually took control of their game against Russia and won going away in a 6-3 decision.

"I was pretty stressed to start," said Roy, who surrendered the first goal of the game early in the first period. "It was my first real game with that (Canadian) jersey on and it was pretty special. After the first period, after the first 10 minutes I think I was more comfortable out there. As the game was going on, I was better in my net."

Canada scored three times in five chances - including a pair of powerplay markers in the third period to break a 3-3 tie and finish the game much stronger than they had started.

"It was pretty clear that we were a little nervous, we were throwing pucks away pretty easy," said forward Brayden Schenn, who scored one of the third period powerplay markers. "Give credit to the Russians, they came out hot and fast but I thought we were sitting back. As the game went on we started pressing and we gained momentum off the powerplay and create some energy that way."

Captain Ryan Ellis, who also tallied in the game, wasn't surprised that nerves would play a role early for his squad.

"There's always going to be nerves in an opening game in a world junior tournament," Ellis said. "But our team just tried to stick to the gameplan as much as possible. Our third period was textbook and it was noticeable. I'm proud of our team and our guys for sticking with it like that.

"We were in a good position, 3-3 in the third period. We felt very comfortable in that spot and we just knew we had to come out with a big period and we did, and we got the win."

Kingston Frontenacs defenceman Erik Gudbranson pointed out that Canada's depth has been the difference in their early success.

''Everybody is contributing on different sides of the ice,'' Gudbranson said. ''There are some guys that are playing on the fourth line that are goal scorers in their own league and now they're checking. There are hitters that are actually playing as goal scorers now and we're really developing as a good solid group.''

While no one knows yet who will get the call in net for Canada against the Czech Republic on Tuesday, Schenn was impressed by Roy's resilience and ability to focus after a shaky start.

"Some weak goals are going to happen, maybe some traffic, (pucks) hits some sticks, things happen," he said. "But he battled back for us and he played well tonight. Give him full credit, the Russians threw a lot of pucks on the net, and Olivier played well for us."

And after their dominating end to the game, Schenn expects an even better effort against the Czech Republic.

"We got a little momentum now. The first one is always the hardest one to win. Now we can be a little more relaxed and don't have to be so nervous to start the next game," he said. "We got another good opponent coming up here, and we got to get ready for that one."