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Canada Tops World Hockey Rankings, Starts Strong at World Championships

Martin AverySenior Writer IApril 25, 2009

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - MAY 15:  Shane Doan #19 of Canada battles with Jan Hlavac #27 of the Czech Republic in the IIHF World Men's Championships gold medal game at the Wiener Stadthalle on May 15, 2005 in Vienna, Austria. The Czech Republic won the gold medal with a score of 3-0.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Canada entered the 2009 IIHF World Hockey Championship tied for first place with Russia in the pre-tournament world rankings and could take the lead in the rankings if they continue winning after a strong start on Day 1.

Canada has topped the world rankings for years, but this is the first time Russia has sat atop the rankings since the format was introduced by the IIHF in 2004.

Both Canada and Russia have 2,000 points, but that will not affect the seeding for the upcoming 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Canada is the No. 1 seed based on the results of the 2008 tournament played in Canada.

Shane Doan, who wore the "C" when Canada won in Moscow in 2007 and lost in Quebec City last year, was named captain for Canada again.

The 32-year-old captain of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes said anything less than gold will be a disappointment. He also talked about the "bitter taste" left in his mouth following last year's heart-breaking overtime loss to Russia in the final.

Leading 4-2 with 10 minutes to play in the final period, Canada somehow lost the game. Ilya Kovalchuk scored the overtime winner while Rick Nash sat in the penalty box serving a delay-of-game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass.

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Team Canada started this year's tournament with a 6-1 win over Belarus in Kloten, Switzerland. Steve Stamkos and Dany Heatley scored twice each to pace Canada.

In other games, it was Russia 5, Germany 0; Switzerland 1, France 0; Slovakia 4, Hungary 3.

Canada plays Hungary on Sunday.

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