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Canada 5, Belarus 0

By Mike Nadel
AP Sports Writer
Friday, February 13, 1998; 7:33 a.m. EST


NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- The first Canadian Olympic hockey team stocked with NHL All-Stars was everything it was supposed to be -- at least five goals better than Belarus.

Relying exclusively on professional standouts as they try to win their first gold medal since 1952, the Canadians won 5-0 today as Eric Lindros scored twice and Patrick Roy made 18 saves.

Things promise to get more challenging for the Canadians, who were runners-up the last two Olympics and are expected to do at least that well here.

Saturday, they meet Sweden, which defeated the United States 4-2 today. And they finish the tournament's round-robin portion Monday against their U.S. rivals before entering quarterfinal play.

Canada would have defeated preliminary-round qualifier Belarus much more handily if not for the acrobatic goaltending of Andrei Mezin. A career minor leaguer in North America, Mezin made 26 saves as the Canadians fired away from point-blank range all game.

Roy, by contrast, had long stretches where he never saw a shot. His best save came in the third period on a 20-foot slap shot by Vladimir Tsyplakov, one of only two NHL players on the Belarus roster.

Lindros, chosen team captain ahead of long-time stars such as Wayne Gretzky and Ray Bourque, had Canada's last two goals. He made it 4-0 on a rebound at 17:44 of the second period and scored on a give-and-go with Rod Brind'Amour midway through the third.

Brind'Amour also had a nice pass in the slot to set up a second-period goal by Bourque. Theo Fleury added a shorthanded goal and Al MacInnis scored on a power play.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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