Fortunately for Canada, it didn’t keep either from contributing.
Mayers’s two goals and Roloson’s 28 saves helped lift Team Canada to a 3-2 win over Germany in its opening game at the IIHF world championship on Saturday evening.
It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was a well-earned victory over a German team that always seems to play Canada tight.
“The Germans are producing world class players now,” said Canadian GM Steve Yzerman, who arrived in Russia in time to watch the game from the stands at Mytischi Arena. “I think the Canadian fan has to start recognizing that this is a good team and is by no means an automatic victory.”
In other action Saturday, Switzerland edged Latvia 2-1, Sweden pounded Italy 7-1, and Slovakia topped Norway 3-0.
The Canada-Germany game was tied 2-2 until Mayers scored his second goal at 11:52 of the third period.
Linemate Jason Chimera stole the puck from German goalie Dimitrij Kotschnew behind the goal and got it in front to Mayers. He had a wide open net.
“I almost missed,” said Mayers, who had eight goals for the St. Louis Blues this year.
Coach Andy Murray plans to rotate the team’s second alternate captain designation among the veteran players and the 32-year-old Mayers started Saturday’s game with the ‘A’ on his jersey.
However, the glue keeping it on didn’t hold, so he removed it before scoring the winning goal.
“It was just becoming a nuisance, so I took it off,” explained Mayers.
In many ways, it was a day of improvisation for Team Canada.
The 37-year-old Roloson was making his first ever start for his country and was introduced before the game by his given name of Albert. Only those who have seen his passport could figure out why.
“It’s all right,” said Roloson. “My dad never wanted me to be called that, but my mom did so . . .
“My mom’s winning right now.”
Said Yzerman: “I thought they had a mistake there. I thought that was a typo or something.”
The mistakes continued. Roloson let in a goal from the neutral zone early in the second period to allow the Germans to tie the game 2-2.
He was trying to redirect Robert Dietrich’s long slapshot to defenceman Nick Schultz, but watched helplessly as the puck slid under him into the goal.
“I tried to get a little too cute with it,” said Roloson. “The thing dropped about a foot on me and ended up going underneath my pad.”
Mayers and his line with Chimera and Jay McClement made sure it wasn’t the difference. The trio is as unheralded as it gets in Canada, but it was arguably the best unit for the team on this night.
Still, they have no illusions of becoming an offensive force.
“We’re here to create some energy, get some big hits,” said Chimera. “I know playing against those guys (Mayers and McClement) a lot during the year that they work hard and it’s a grinding kind of line.”
“It’s always nice to get some offence, especially at a key time in the third period.”
Eric Staal had the other goal for Canada, which next plays Norway on Monday.
Christoph Ullmann and Dietrich scored for Germany.
Canada made its physical presence felt early but not in the way coach Murray had envisioned. Defenceman Shea Weber was ejected just 1:19 into the game after catching Yannic Seidenberg with a hard open ice check that sent the German sliding 25 feet along the fresh ice.
Seidenberg is seven inches shorter than Weber, who was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for a hit to the head. The German forward had difficulty getting up and missed the rest of the game.
“I didn’t intend to hurt him at all,” said Weber. “It happened really fast.”
The hit likely won’t result in a suspension. Referee Jyri Petteri Ronn didn’t fault Weber in his report to the IIHF’s directorate after the game.
“The referee put on the report that it was not with intent (to injure) so it should die right there,” said Murray. “But we are in Moscow.”
Canada was able to kill off the five-minute disadvantage.
Still, Ullmann opened the scoring for the Germans at 9:51 shortly after his team had killed off a penalty of its own. Roloson made a nice save on Ullmann as he drove to the net but the German was able to scoop in the rebound.
Mayers tied the game at 17:39 at the end of an inspired shift that saw him block two shots. He planted himself at the edge of the crease and redirected a pass from Chimera by Kotschnew.
Canada took the lead just 53 seconds into the second period. Staal burst into the German zone and took a nice backhand pass from Carolina Hurricanes teammate Justin Williams before sliding the puck through Kotschnew’s legs.
It was 2-2 exactly 30 seconds later when Dietrich beat Roloson from long distance.
The bizarre goal didn’t faze the Canadian goalie.
“If you start thinking about it, the next shot’s in the net too,” said Roloson.
Besides, it was basically something to laugh about at the end of an encouraging evening.
There were a few flaws in the delivery but the performance ended with a rendition of O Canada being played in the arena.
“It’s always great to hear that national anthem,” said Roloson. “Especially when you’re in a foreign country.”