Canada’s pleasure cruise to the semifinals of the world hockey championships has landed in Quebec City.
The dominant squad bid farewell to Halifax immediately following Wednesday’s 8-2 thumping of Norway at the Metro Centre, ending a stretch of more than two weeks in the city.
Canada gets a fresh start — not that one is needed — at the Pepsi Colisee as it faces Sweden today at 6 p.m.
“We enjoyed our time in Halifax — the people were great and the fans were great,” said Canadian forward Derek Roy, who is coming off a three-goal, one-assist outing. “We’ve just got to bring this energy and momentum to Quebec.”
Canada demolished pretty much every team it faced in Halifax, going on a glorious 7-0 run while outscoring opponents by an average of 6-2 and nearly doubling them in shots.
Sweden has gone 5-2, with losses to Russia and Switzerland. New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is the star of a mostly anonymous team, while NHL rookie-of-the-year candidate Nicklas Backstrom is the team’s best-known forward.
Only nine players on the roster played in the NHL last season.
“They look exactly the same as they do in all these world championships,” Canadian head coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Quick, great puck movement, great mobility up front, and one of the best goalies in the world. They’ll be a handful.”
Former Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Pascal Leclaire will start, but Hitchcock will likely rotate back to Cam Ward if Canada plays in Sunday’s gold-medal game at 2 p.m.
Ward said the change of scenery isn’t a big deal for the team, even though Sweden is already in a comfort zone. Canada held training camp in Quebec City and played a pair of exhibition games at the Pepsi Colisee before arriving in Halifax.
“It’s not going to be too much of a surprise for us,” Ward said. “We know the rink and we know the atmosphere. It’s been a lot of fun in Halifax for two weeks, but we’re excited to see some new opponents and rise to another challenge.”
Canada, the defending champion, is hoping to become the first host team in two decades to win a world title.
Russia and Finland face off in the other semifinal at 2 p.m. Both semifinals will be televised live on TSN.