Sweden make winning start to world championships

Defending champions Sweden battled back from a goal down to make a winning start to the ice hockey world championships, thrashing 7-1 Italy in the preliminary Group A showdown in Moscow on Saturday.

Forward Giorgio de Bettin surprisingly lifted Italy 1-0 up scoring an opening goal 3:07 into the match on powerplay.

Sweden poured in attack and levelled through forward Johan Davidsson at 15:51, while Fredrik Emvall lifted Sweden 2-1 up with 2:41 remaining before the first intermission also on powerplay.

Tony Martensson and Jonathan Hedström added one apiece in the second period, while Emvall and Davidsson both scored their second goals of the match to make it 6-1 for Sweden before the second break.

Per Hallberg finalised the scoring with 8:10 remaining to play.

In the opening period of the other Group A match earlier on Saturday Switzerland and Latvia presented a sample of the dullest hockey at the tournament so far leaving the scoreline untouched.

Forward Lauris Darzins put Latvia into the lead 8:25 into the second period sending the puck home through the traffic from teammate Armands Berzins’ pass from behind the goal line.

Switzerland replied positively and began peppering Latvia’s goalie Sergejs Naumovs with shots and seized the lead before the second break through Adrian Wichser and Sandy Jeanin, who scored one apiece within three minutes.

In the third period the Swiss team were sitting on their advantage stifling Latvia’s attacking efforts and kept it through to record their first win 2-1 at the event.

In the Group C Canada narrowly avoided a points loss in the campaign-opening match.

The 2002 Olympic champions were trailing 1-0 against Germany at the Mytishchi ice palace after Christoph Ullmann netted the opener halfway into the first period.

Canada looked slightly rusty but managed to pull the scores level before the first intermission through St Louis Blues’ striker Jamal Mayers, who equalised at 17:39.

In the second period Canada moved up a gear clinching a 2-1 lead just 53sec after the restart through Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal.

However, Germany levelled just 30 sec later due to a monumental gaffe from Edmonton Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who allowed Germany’s rear guard Robert Dietrich to fire in from the center of the ice rink.

But Canada managed to scrap a victory as Mayers netted his second goal of the match at 51:42 into unguarded net dashing Germany’s hopes for a draw.

Meanwhile, the 2002 world champions Slovakia grabbed the lead in the Group C with a confident 3-0 win over Norway, while thier goalie Jaroslav Halak produced 24 saves to pick a shutout.

Forward Marek Uram and Boston Bruins’ blueliner Zdeno Chara were on target in the first period giving Slovakia a comfortable 2-0 lead.

Branko Radivojevic netted Slovakia’s third with 2:21 remaining before the second interval on powerplay to secure his side’s win.