Rivals Canada and Russia romp into semi-finals

Wed May 14, 2008 10:54pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters) - Canada survived an early scare before romping to an 8-2 win over Norway and Russia crushed Switzerland 6-0 to send the two rivals into the world championship semi-finals on Wednesday.

In contrast to those lop-sided routs, Nordic rivals Sweden and Finland needed 3-2 overtime victories to book their spots in the final four.

In Quebec City, Mattias Weinhandl spared Swedish blushes when he backhanded a loose puck past Milan Hnlicka to lift the Olympic champions past the Czech Republic.

Sami Lepisto was the hero for Finland as they held on to edge the U.S. and setup a rematch of last year's semi-final against unbeaten Russia.

The other semi-final pits defending champion Canada against Sweden on Friday.

Although Canada has captured a record 24 titles and Norway was making its first quarter-final appearance, the favorites approached the contest cautiously following a tight 2-1 round-robin win over the same opponents.

When Dany Heatley struck just 27 seconds into the opening period with his tournament-best 10th goal, Canada appeared eager to make sure there would be no repeat of the preliminary round nail-biter.

But the Norwegians refused to be brushed aside by the mighty Canadians, who needed two periods to take control and extend their world championship unbeaten run 16 games.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Derek Roy (C) and Jonathan Toews (L) celebrate Roy's third goal of the game on Norway's goalie Pal Grotnes during the third period of their quarter-final game at the 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championships in Halifax, May 14, 2008. REUTERS/Paul Darrow</p>