May 8, 2006

Russia, Swiss and Sweden reach second round with wins

By Gennady Fyodorov

RIGA (Reuters) - Russia, Switzerland and Sweden recorded
their second straight victories on Monday to clinch a place in
the next round at the world ice hockey championship.

Olympic champions Sweden blanked Italy 4-0 to more closer
to achieving an unprecedented golden double, while Slovakia
thrashed hapless Kazakhstan 6-0.

The Kazakhs have now conceded a record 16 goals in their
first two games after being trounced 10-1 by Russia on

Earlier, Montreal Canadiens netminder David Aebischer made
25 saves to help the Swiss edge Ukraine 2-1, while Russia left
it late but still beat Belarus 3-2 with two final-period goals.

Six different players scored for the Slovaks, the 2002
champions, who were facing an early exit from the tournament
after losing 2-1 to Belarus in their opener on Saturday.

"We had our backs against the wall but the players
responded really well tonight," said Slovakia coach Frantisek
Hossa, whose team face Russia in their final preliminary round
match on Wednesday.

Champions Czech Republic, Finland, Canada and the United
States booked their spots in the second round on Sunday.

Six times the Olympics and worlds have been staged in the
same year, each time producing different winners.


Kenny Jonsson, one of seven members of Sweden's gold medal
team in Turin returning to play in the championship, scored a
pair of goals while Stefan Liv, another Olympic gold medallist,
only had to make 13 saves to earn the shutout.

Having returned to Pool A for the first time since 2002,
the defeat left Italy slipping into the relegation battle with
a 0-2 record.

Italy, who have not beaten Sweden in 19 meetings stretching
back to 1935, must now defeat Ukraine in their final
preliminary round match in Group B on Wednesday.

In Group C, Belarus were leading Russia 2-1 after two
periods but Denis Kulyash leveled with a powerplay goal at
43:28 and Alexander Kharitonov notched the winner 10 minutes

"It was a well-played game," said Belarus's Canadian coach
Glen Hanlon. "We had a chance to score after they tied the game
at 2-2 but our guys just missed and instead Russia ended up
with the winning goal."

Russia coach Vladimir Krikunov said his team were missing
some intensity after scoring 10 goals in their first game.

"We've warned our guys that Belarus is a good team but they
just underestimated them," said Krikunov, who steered Belarus
to a surprise fourth place at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Russia's high-powered offence, led by Washington Capitals
rookie sensation Alexander Ovechkin, was kept largely in check
for the first two periods.

Ovechkin, who notched a hat-trick against the Kazakhs, had
a quiet game.

His best chance came early when he was awarded a penalty
shot after being pulled down on a breakaway. He faked the
goaltender to his left but his shot hit the post.

"You're never really going to eliminate him from getting
scoring chances," Hanlon said.

"Our job was to try to limit the damage."