DAVOS, Switzerland – Travis Green sped towards the crease looking for a pass and, as things turned out, he was happy the puck never got to him.
Dale McTavish’s pass caromed in off a defender’s leg, giving Canada a 3-2 victory over Russian club team Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the Spengler Cup hockey tournament Saturday.
“It comes with age,” Green kidded when asked if he’d planned the decisive play to the tiniest detail.
With the win, Canada, 3-0, clinched a spot in the title game Monday. It plays Adler Mannheim on Sunday, and the German club lost 6-1 to Ufa earlier in the tournament.
It was 2-2 in the 47th minute when McTavish, a 35-year-old forward from Eganville, Ont., who plays for EV Zug in the Swiss elite league, hooked up with Green, the 37-year-old former NHLer from Castlegar, B.C., to get the puck past goaltender Alexander Eremenko.
“I went to the net hard,” said Green.
Green took a penalty with two minutes left and Eremenko was lifted for an extra attacker to give the Russians a 6-on-4 advantage in skaters in the final minute, but they couldn’t beat goaltender Curtis Joseph, the 40-year-old former NHLer from Keswick, Ont.
“He’s been outstanding – better and better every day,” head coach Sean Simpson of Brampton, Ont., said of Joseph. “He’s shown why he’s been the goalie he has been over the course of his career.
“He has such an easy-going demeanor and takes everything in stride. He’s thrilled to be here and he’s a great guy in our dressing room. He made some key stops (Saturday).”
Canada overcame an early deficit on an Andrei Kuteykin goal to take a 2-1 lead in the first period on goals by Yves Sarault, 35, a native of Valleyfield, Que., who plays for Basel of the Swiss league, and by Simon Gamache, 26, the Thetford Mines, Que., forward who plays for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
The Russians were strong in the second period and former NHL defenceman Oleg Tverdosky scored the only goal to tie the score.
“We corrected things in the third and got back to our game – forchecking and pressuring them on the puck,” said Simpson. “We rally paid the price.
“Cujo was strong in goal and we blocked shots and did everything we needed to do to pull out the win.”
Canada last won the Spengler in 2003, and Simpson says it’s about time Canada won it again.
“That’s been our attitude since we put the team together,” he said.
Green like’s their chances.
“It was a big step for us to win this game,” he said after the third straight win.
Molding a team in such a short period of time is always tough.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play with some Team Canadas at world championships and, like any Team Canada I’ve been with, it’s a great group of guys – a typical Canadian hockey team where individual stuff is put aside and we play for each other,” said Green. “You get stronger as the tournament goes along.”