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Canadian Press
12/29/2006 3:35:36 PM

LEKSAND, Sweden (CP) - Medicine Hat Tigers defencemen Kris Russell scored a pair of goals for Canada in a 3-1 win over Germany at the world junior hockey championship Friday.

The Canadians improved to 3-0 and clinched first place in Group A with the victory, which means they get a bye to the semifinal.

The two-time defending champions conclude the preliminary round Sunday against winless Slovakia (TSN, 7 a.m. ET). Russia won its third game and earned first place in Group B with a 6-1 win over Belarus.

Steve Downie of the Peterborough Petes also scored for Canada in front of 1,284 spectators in a 7,650-seat Ejendals Arena that sounded and felt cavernous despite the vocal support of about 130 Canadian fans.

Felix Schultz, a Buffalo Sabres draft pick, replied for Germany.

Canadian goaltender Carey Price stopped 18 of 19 shots for the victory while German counterpart Timo Pielmeier made 31 saves on 34 shots.

The Germans opted to go with Pielmeier in goal instead of Sebastian Stefaniszin, the hero of his country's upset of the U.S. in their tournament opener.

Pielmeier proved to be up the task as he got his glove on a few good scoring chances by the Canadians.

Germany is one of two teams promoted from the `B' world championship and Canada's games against promoted countries at this tournament are never classics.

The Germans checked Canada hard in their own zone to open the game and then sagged back to clog up the neutral zone and trap the puck carrier coming down the wings.

They bided their time for their few offensive opportunities. Canadian captain Kris Letang smartly backchecked to stop a breaking Schutz in the second period when defensive partner Luc Bourdon stumbled at the blue-line.

The Canadians continued to do a good job of looking after the defensive side of the ledger and they killed off one minute 23 seconds of a German two-man advantage in the third period.

Canada's offence even-strength misfired a few times when passes up the middle were picked off and chances to bury the puck behind Pielmeier were missed.

Tom Pyatt won a faceoff and sent the puck back to Russell, who put a low shot through Pielmeier's pads at 10:34 of the third period.

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