U.S. knows Latvia poses more serious challenge
By Kevin Allen, USA TODAY
INNSBRUCK, Austria The USA's Peter Laviolette will be offering a
coaching point, and not a geography lesson, when he reminds players
that Latvia is not Slovenia.
The Americans (1-0) easily disposed of Slovenia 7-0 in the opening
game, and coaches will stress that Latvia (0-1) will present the USA
with a more strenuous challenge Tuesday. (Related item: North
Americans return to their roots)
"The one thing that is very impressive about the Latvians is the
fight in them," Laviolette said. "They came back twice against
Canada, and in the second period I thought they had the better of the
Latvia lost 6-4 to what is considered to be the Canadian team
assembled for a world championship. They were down 5-2 and came back
to make it a 5-4 game. Goalie Arturs Irbe came in when it was 5-2 and
gave Latvia a chance to rally.
"Our focus is just to prepare ourselves so that we come out like we
did against Slovenia," Laviolette said. "You could tell just from our
first shift we were on our game."
The Edmonton Oilers' Ty Conklin will start in net for the USA. He was
all-tournament goaltender last year when the Americans won the bronze
Although it would seem as if Conklin comes in as No. 1, U.S. goalie
Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders) is one of the best at handling the
puck out of the crease. That's important in international play, where
the ice is 15 feet wider than in NHL rinks.
"Ricky ... moved the puck efficiently," Laviolette said. "That's big
over here. It gets you out of a lot of trouble."
It also helps a team's transition game because he can headman the
puck rather than wait for a defenseman to come back.
But no one is underselling Conklin. "Ty's record is pretty amazing in
a U.S. hockey jersey," Laviolette said.
According to Laviolette, Conklin is 8-1-1 in his last 10 games for
the USA, including a shootout win against Slovakia in last year's
bronze medal game. "A lot of the guys in that room played in front of
Ty last year, and they played hard and they know how good he is,"
Laviolette said. "He deserves a chance to prove himself again."
Around the rinks
In Sweden's opener, coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson benched Vancouver
Canucks twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin in the third period, along with
Jonas Hoglund. Daniel responded with two goals Monday, and Henrik
scored. ... Canada said Roberto Luongo will start in goal against
Slovenia. Martin Brodeur will back up. "Coming in I knew Marty was
going to be the guy, so I set myself like the World Cup scenario,"
said Luongo, Brodeur's World Cup backup despite winning back-to-back
world championships for Canada.
For two North Americans, it's welcome back
INNSBRUCK, Austria When USA Hockey senior director Art Berglund and
Team Canada general manager Steve Tambellini arrived at the worlds,
it was almost like a journey to re-explore their roots.
Tambellini lived in Austria as a child for a few years in the 1960s
when his late father, Addie, was the playing coach for Klagenfurt.
Berglund played on a line with the senior Tambellini on that Austrian
League team in 1963-64.
Addie Tambellini played for the legendary Canadian senior team, the
Trail Smoke Eaters, that won the world championship in 1961. He was
the first Canadian star to come to Austria, and his death was treated
as big news there because of his impact.
"Addie Tambellini was just a legend over here, and I remember Steve
was just a young boy," Berglund says. "When I see him, we still talk
about that time."
Berglund was coming out of Colorado College at the time.
"There were no opportunities for former college players then. The NHL
had six teams, and it was a closed shop," Berglund says. "In those
days you got a job after college hockey, but I went to Europe."
The young Tambellini was in preschool when he moved over with his
family. "I learned to skate over here," he says.
Tambellini felt such a kinship with Austria that he played a season
there after his NHL career ended. The problem was he signed with
Villach, Klagenfurt's archrival.
"When I went to Klagenfurt to play a game, they whistled (the
European version of booing) at me," he says, laughing.