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2016 World Cup of Hockey: Hosts on 13-game win streak and only unbeaten team at event


09-24-2016 16:11 BJT

The biggest rivalry in hockey will take centre stage as Canada faces Russia in the semi-finals of the World Cup of Hockey. The team with the maple leafs on their chest go into this contest on a roll -- having won their last 13 games at any major tournament, are the defending champions at this event, and are also the two-time reigning Olympic champs. They will be heavy favourites against a Russian squad that has not won this tournament, or any incarnation of this event since 1981.

Canada has won all three of their tournament games by a combined 14-3 scoreline, and have been paced by Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews, a couple of members of the 2010 and 2014 gold medal Olympic squads.

The Russians dropped their opening game 2-1 to Sweden, but have rallied to win their last two games to make it to this stage, and members of both teams know how special it is when they meet at any major tournament on the ice.

"Things have changed a lot, hockey has gotten way better. The game today is night and day different. You can go back and talk about how great those players were in their generation, it's a different time. (Today) It's faster, it's more organised, it's harder. For me to compare them, it's different. And saying that, when Russia plays Canada I think it is a big deal and you want to have success. They want to have success and we want to have success, only one of us gets to leave tomorrow happy," said Mike Babcock, Team Canada coach.

"Obviously there has been a rivalry for a long time, between two very good teams. And we do feel the pressure and I am sure the Canadian team feels the pressure as well. All we do is play for fans and try to give them the best game we can and work on the development of the sport of ice hockey," said Harijis Vitolins, Russia assistant coach.

The other semi-final sees upstarts Team Europe, an amalgamation of players from 8-nations, go up against Sweden. The winners of the two semi-finals meet in a 3-game final series.

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