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Canada returns to Spengler Cup semi-finals

Team Canada's goalkeeper Jeff Deslauriers (L) is challenged by Tomas Kurka of Sparta Prague during their ice hockey match at the Spengler Cup tournament in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos December 29, 2010.


Canada has a return engagement with HC Davos at the Spengler Cup.

Defenceman Micki Dupont's power-play goal in overtime earned Canada a 4-3 quarter-final victory over Sparta Prague on Wednesday. The victory moves the team into a semifinal showdown with the host Davos squad, which edged the Canadians 3-2 on Tuesday.

"(Tuesday's) game was a good game, we didn't play bad but there were some things we weren't happy with," Dupont said. "We had too many turnovers, maybe a couple of mistakes that ended up in our net so we are looking forward to it.

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"Obviously they're a good skating team but hopefully we'll be a little hungrier having lost the first matchup with them."

The quarter-final game appeared to be a good matchup for Canada in that Sparta Prague came in with an 0-2 record. But Dupont said facing Davos on Tuesday took a lot out of the Canadians.

"It was tougher than we thought it would be," he said. "(Tuesday) against Davos was a very hard game so it took a lot of energy out of us so we were maybe a little bit tired today but we found a way."

Thanks to a dramatic ending.

Dupont scored the winning goal 3:20 into overtime after Sparta Prague had been called for too many men on the ice, giving Canada a 4-on-3 advantage. The Canadians were working the puck around when a Prague player got his stick on a Yanick Lehoux centring pass, sending it back to Dupont, who saw a lane and blasted a shot on goal.

"I just kind of stepped into it and it went through a few bodies and went in," Dupont said. "We had someone in front and I just wanted to get a good, hard shot on net and I don't think the goalie even saw it."

Canada surged into a 3-1 lead in the second before Sparta Prague rallied to tie it on goals by Emanuel Peter and David Vyborny. Peter also scored earlier in the period.

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Neither side could score in the third.

J.P. Vigier, Domenic Pittis and Brendan Bell had the other goals for Canada.

Dupont and his teammates now face the difficult prospect of not only playing a team for the second time in three days, but playing their fourth game in as many nights. But Dupont said facing Davos before a partisan hometown crowd will provide an adrenaline boost for the Canadians.

"Adrenaline kind of takes over and I'm sure against the hosts there'll be a lot of adrenaline going," he said. "It's tough, you have to just make sure you eat well and drink a lot of water and try to get your sleep and hopefully you're ready to go."

And Dupont said a key for Canada against Davos will be to take care of the puck.

"Controlling the puck, limiting our turnovers instead of trying to make plays that aren't there," he said. "We just have to chip it in, keep the puck down in their zone, try to get the cycle going, protect the puck and wear down their defence by making them play in their own zone."

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Russia's SKA St. Petersburg will face Swiss club Geneve-Servette in the other semi with the final set for Friday. Canada has played in eight of the last 10 championship games at the Spengler Cup, winning the event in 2002, 2003 and 2007.

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