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Canada Ends U.S. Gold-Medal Streak

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Canada had never scored a first-quarter goal on the United States in three previous meetings at the International Ice Hockey Federation In-Line Hockey World Championships.

Neither had it defeated the United States, but that all changed Saturday night at the Arrowhead Pond.

Glen Metropolit put the puck in the back of the net 55 seconds into the game, setting the tone for what became a 6-2 gold medal victory for the Canadians.

The outcome snapped the Americans’ dominance of the in-line tournament. The U.S. had won all 17 of its previous IIHF games, taken the 1996 and 1997 gold medal games from Canada and was a heavy favorite Saturday.

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“This means a lot to us,” said Canadian forward Brent Thurston, smoking a victory cigar. “We can point to hockey. It’s our grass roots in Canada. It’s like a dream come true. You don’t always get to win a gold medal for your country.”

The high-powered Unites States, which averaged 14 goals in sweeping through its first four games, looked ragged on attack throughout, even drawing some boos from the announced crowd of 7,200, pumped up by a two-for-one ticket deal.

“This wasn’t the same team from the get-go that we’ve been all week,” American Coach Roy Sommer said. “When you’ve coached as much as I have, you can tell before the game begins. You hope the emotion is there, but we came out flat.”

A lot of that had to do with the Canadian game plan, a defensive posture that took away passing lanes, put a premium on protecting the crease and frustrated the Americans.

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“In previous games we’ve tried to skate with them and they have too much speed,” Canadian Coach Doug McCarthy said. “We thought we’d take a little off this time, slow the game down and play a power game and let our stick handling do the job.”

Canadian goalie David Goverde was outstanding. The former Bullfrog stopped 26 shots and was named the tournament’s best goaltender. His American counterpart Joe Bonvie, who had given up six goals in the tournament until Saturday, found himself under attack on quick Canadian rushes, particularly in the first half, as Canada took a 5-1 lead.

Metropolit grabbed a loose puck to the left of Bonvie that the American goaltender should have gloved, skated around the net and slid the puck between Bonvie and the goal pipe. Doug Ast went top shelf on Bonvie with 6 minutes 19 seconds to go in the quarter and after Scott Drevitch slipped one by Goverde, Ast responded with an unassisted goal.

Thurston beat Bonvie with 7:53 to go in the second quarter and later Doug Goudie gave the Canadians a four-goal halftime lead.

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Canada’s swarming defense was causing all kinds of problems for the defending gold medalists as well.

“Last year was the worst time of our lives,” said Canadian forward Hugo Belanger of a 5-4 loss in the gold-medal game. “This feels good.”

In other games:

Finland 5, Switzerland 1--Finland was clinging to a one-goal lead with less than five minutes to go, until back-to-back goals from Tuomas Kaliomaki and another by Aaltonen Petri clinched the bronze medal.

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Germany 10, Austria 9--Udo Schmid got an unassisted goal with 21 seconds remaining to lift Germany in the fifth-place game.


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