Canada gears for quarter-finals

Dan Hamhuis has enough experience at the IIHF World Hockey Championship to know how easily things can go wrong.

Team Canada head coach Lindy Ruff explains a drill to his team during their first practice session in the Bern

BERN, Switzerland — Dan Hamhuis has enough experience at the IIHF World Hockey Championship to know how easily things can go wrong.

The soft-spoken defenceman is representing Canada at the tournament for the fourth straight year but has just one gold medal in his collection.

That came two years ago in Moscow, when the undefeated Canadians had very few hiccups. The other tournaments didn’t go as smoothly — he had to settle for silver last year in Quebec and came home empty-handed from Latvia in 2006 after Canada finished fourth.

Those disappointments have taught him a thing or two about the perils the medal round can bring.

Canada begins medal round play Thursday with a quarter-final game against Latvia (TSN, 8:15 a.m. ).

Hamhuis knows from experience that focus and consistency will be key.

“All these games are really emotional games and we’ve got to keep that in check,” Hamhuis said Tuesday in Regensdorf. “The other thing, too, is you can’t take 10 minutes off or a period off, you end up digging yourself too big of a hole. We’ve done it in the past.”

Hamhuis recalled the semifinals in 2006 when Canada fell behind in the first period and couldn’t recover.

“It ended up costing us our tournament,” he said. “And last year, too, we didn’t play, we sat back too much in the third period (against Russia) and it cost us the championship.”

The Canadians need three straight victories to reclaim gold, starting with Thursday’s Latvia matchup.

Canadian coach Lindy Ruff elected not to hold a practice Tuesday as the team travelled from Regensdorf to its new hotel near Bern. One player was left behind as defenceman Ian White decided to return to Canada to have a neck injury checked out by the Toronto Maple Leafs medical staff.

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