In 15 games going back to 1995 the Italians have managed only two ties against Canada, most recently in 1995 (and, more famously, in 1982 against Wayne Gretzky & Co.).
The win moves Canada to 2-0 while Italy, losers to Switzerland yesterday, fall to 0-2. Canada will take on Slovakia tomorrow while the Italians get a day off before facing Denmark on Tuesday.
There were but 42 shots in the game, Canada getting 30.
"I thought we played pretty well," said Matt Barzal. "Sometimes, playing Italy, you don't know what to expect. They came out hard. They made it tough on us to score, and I thought we made some adjustments that helped. I felt pretty good. I thought we had the puck 90 percent of the time we're on the ice. So that's a positive. We've just got to maybe put a few more in the back of the net. I know Alex Petan and Dante [Hannoun]. They're doing pretty well. I'm actually Italian. That's my nationality. So it's pretty fun to play the Italians!"
"It's obviously a battle when you play a couple of games in 24 hours," Petan offered, "but I thought we battled really hard. We wanted to build off our third period from yesterday. I thought we did a really good job of it. Scoring the first goal was great. It gave us a lot of energy. It was a tough game, though. But we're going to take these two games and learn from them, and build on what we did well and move on to the third game."
Tonight the Azzurri struck first on what was really their first decent scoring chance. It was a nice bit of puck movement off the rush, with U.S.-born Brandon McNally setting up the trailer, Montreal-born Phil Pietroniro, who fired a high shot over the glove of Chris Dreidger, making his Team Canada debut. Pietroniro led all skaters with 22:42 ice time this afternoon.
That goal came at 12:57, and gave Italy the lead thanks to a couple of excellent saves earlier by Sarnia, Ontario’s Justin Fazio. He robbed Dawson Mercer on a clear chance and soon after flashed the leather in denying Ryan Graves with an accurate shot.
Soon after Pietroniro’s goal they almost scored again, but this time it was Dreidger who made a fine glove grab on a good shot from British Columbia-born Dante Hannoun.
Dreidger had precious little to do in the middle 20 minutes as Canada circled and whirred and passed and buzzed and controlled play throughout. They took the lead at 8:15 when Josh Anderson re-directed a mid-air shot from the point by Dysin Mayo. They added two late goals to make it a more comfortable 4-1 lead through two periods.
Pierre-Luc Dubois made a little hope-and-prayer flip pass in the slot, and the puck landed fortuitously on the stick of Nicolas Roy, who smacked it in at 15:14. Two and a half minutes later, they scored a highlight-reel goal with a tic-tac-toe passing play.
Matt Barzal was the tic; captain Thomas Chabot was the tac; and, Kent Johnson, with a high wrister, was the toe. 4-1. Early in the third, after more sustained pressure, Mayo scored one of his own when a long snap shot eluded Fazio.
Noah Gregor added a sixth goal at 14:54 with a short-handed effort. He emerged with the puck after a lengthy scrum along the boards in the Canada end and dashed the length of the ice before beating Fazio with a backhand on the deke.