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U.S. Hockey Remains Unbeaten

Updated:
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The United States remained unbeaten at the World Hockey Championship by edging Belarus 1-0 Friday on a goal from an unlikely source.

A team that boasts 13 NHL players needed Chris Luongo, a defenseman for the Munich Barons in the German League, to score at 6:17 of the second period to improve its record to 3-0-1.

The Americans were greeted at the arena by a banner in the stands that read, ``Yankee Go Home.''

``I wasn't offended, but there's no question it fired us up,'' said Vancouver Canucks center Darby Hendrickson. ``At the same time your concentration really has to be on the ice. You just have to focus on what's important.''

In other action Friday, Canada broke out for four goals in the third period and routed two-time silver medalist Finland 5-1; Latvia dealt Russia its third straight loss, 3-2; and Olympic and world champion Czech Republic dominated Italy 9-2.

Belarus bounced back strongly from Wednesday's 7-0 loss to Sweden, but Atlanta Thrashers goaltender Damian Rhodes and the U.S. defense played one of their best games in the tournament.

The defense was led by Phil Housley of the Calgary Flames.

``What a great leadership role-model he is, not only for the veterans, but also for the younger players as well,'' Hendrickson said. ``For sure he's our leader and he's a big part why we're doing well.''

For Canada, the victory over Finland provided a badly-needed shot in the arm after opening-round losses to unheralded Norway and reigning Olympic and world champion Czech Republic.

``To beat a team like that means a lot,'' Vancouver Canucks center Todd Bertuzzi said. ``We needed the points and we needed the confidence. This was a huge game.''

Finland took the early lead with its first shot on goal. Nashville Predators forward Ville Peltonen broke away and made a perfect pass to Raimo Helminen, who flicked the puck past Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore at 7:12 of the first period.

It took Canada until 18:47 of the second period to answer, with Bertuzzi scoring his fifth goal of the tournament with a shot between Finnish goaltender Ari Sulander's pads.

The teams were tied entered the third period, when Canada's power play, which had been weak until that point, suddenly started clicking.

Edmonton's Ryan Smyth scored the go-ahead goal on a power play, wristing one in for Canada. Vancouver Canucks defender Adrian Aucoin made it 3-1 at 6:59 with a slap shot from center ice on another power play. Brad Isbister of the New York Islanders and Jamal Mayers of the St. Louis Blues finished the scoring.

The 16-country competition is down to two six-team groups. The top four teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals, and host Russia has some work to do.

``We've got ourselves in a very difficult situation,'' said Russia's Pavel Bure, who led the NHL this season with 58 goals for the Florida Panthers.

``We still have two games remaining. We'll try whatever we can to get the best of it.''
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