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Canada’s sledge hockey team thrashes Sweden 10-1

Sunday, March 14th, 2010 | 5:16 pm

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Team Canada won their second game in sledge hockey, knocking off Sweden 10-1.

Canwest News Service

VANCOUVER — The inspirational pre-game messages from stand-up hockey icons such as Steve Yzerman and Mark Messier are certainly doing the trick for Canada’s Paralympic sledge hockey team.

Following a pre-game teleconference call from Messier today, the sledgers looked to be a team inspired in thrashing Sweden 10-1 for their second win in the preliminary round of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

Greg Westlake of North Vancouver and Marc Dorion of Ottawa scored three times each for Canada, which outshot the Swedes 32-3 before a sellout crowd of 6,800 at the University of B.C.’s Thunderbird Arena. Defenceman Adam Dixon of Midland, Ont., the youngest player on the team at age 20, also had a pair of goals for Canada as did Brad Bowden of Orton, Ont.

Yzerman, the general manager of Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics last month, was the first of the pre-game speakers lined up by Hockey Canada who deliver teleconference calls to the sledgers’ dressing room before games.

“We always keep the caller a secret from our guys,” says head coach Jeff Snyder. “Steve Yzerman called yesterday [Saturday], Mark Messier called today. It doesn’t get any better than that. Hockey Canada’s been great. Whenever we’re competing, they try and help us out as much as they can. They give us that extra motivation. Both of those guys have been through tough tournaments and situations. Being part of Hockey Canada — the men, the women, the sledge team . . . we feel like we’re one unit.”

Snyder says he knows the identity of each Hockey Canada representative who has been pre-selected to give the sledge hockey team a morale boost before game time, right up to Saturday’s gold medal game. He’s keeping their names a secret, however, and chuckled when he was asked if Sidney Crosby is part of the lineup. The superstar from Cole Harbour, N.S., scored the goal heard ’round the world to give Canada the gold at the 2010 Olympics last month.

“Messier’s message today was not worry about the outcome, just concentrate on our game plan,” Snyder says. “It was really good advice. It’s great for our guys to know that Mark Messier or Steve Yzerman will take 10 minutes out of their day to help us win.”

Canada now has a day off before playing Norway Tuesday night in its final preliminary round game.

Although Canada and Norway met in the gold medal final four years ago in Turin, the Norwegian sledge team has had its problems adjusting to the smaller North American ice surface and the quickness of the game.

The Norwegians needed two goals in the final seven minutes Sunday to defeat Italy 2-1 and avert their second upset in as many days.

Sweden was within two minutes of a 1-0 victory Saturday over Norway before Tommy Rovelstad scored the equalizer with 1:43 left in the third period. The Norwegians eventually won 2-1 in a shootout.

“I think we maybe have a little problem with the small rinks, where it’s fast, fast, fast,” explained Norwegian veteran Rolf Einar Pedersen. “We’re used to having more time and ice to make plays. But we’re getting there. Canada puts a lot of pressure on a team. They play on a small rink all year, and that’s what they know best.”

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