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Team Canada was defeated 3-1 by Team USA in their first exhibition game in preparation for the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Canada scored first on a power-play goal by Dany Heatley. It would turn out, however, to be the only goal the Canadians could get by the American goalies Ty Conklin and Rick DiPietro.


Strong Start
Canada started the game strong, dominating the first 10 minutes of play, including Heatley’s goal on Ty Conklin. Canada seemed to be on its way to solid win, backed by starting goalie Martin Brodeur. Team USA got 8 shots off on Brodeur in the first, but had only one real scoring chance. Team USA came out in the 2nd period and showed they would not give up.


Wind Turning
Backed by goalie Rick DiPietro, the Americans began to turn the tide. Bill Guerin tied the score at 1, just seconds after Roberto Luongo replaced Brodeur, halfway through the period. With under a minute to play in the period, Brian Rolston made it 2-1 on a nice shot that beat Luongo stick-side high. The US continued to play strong in the 3rd, while Canada was unable to get anything started. It was over 10 minutes into the period before they finally got their first shot. Jordan Leopold put the game away in the 3rd on a nice one-timer set up by solid puck movement by Chris Drury and Chris Chelios.


Lack of Energy
Aside from the first 10 minutes, Canada seemed to lack energy. It did not appear that the team was clicking offensively or defensively. Many passes were out of reach and the communication seemed to be lacking. This is not surprsing though, since the team has not been together long and the players had not played since June or earlier.


The Difference
The difference in the game was clearly that the Americans seemed to be in mid-season form. It seemed like the rust wore off after 10 minutes, while Canada was unable to follow suite. Canada clearly has the talent, they just need to get back into playing shape and get used to play with different teammates.


Note: Jose Theodore, Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards, and Mario Lemieux did not dress for Team Canada, while Robert Esche, Brian Rafalski, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Bryan Smolinski sat for Team USA. . . The two teams meet again on Wednesday in Ottawa.


Three Stars:
1. Brian Leetch, 2 assists
2. Brian Rolston, goal
3. Bill Guerin, goal