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Painting the town red Canada DominatesTeam USA
Win is sweet revenge in front of roaring fans

The running joke quickly spread through the HSBC Arena press box, by both word of mouth and Twitter.

For one night and now for one more in the eyes of all those folks who piled over the international borders, the mailing address of the Sabres' downtown playpen should be dubbed "Buffalo, Ontario."

It was domination on the ice and in the stands for Team Canada as it rolled past Team USA, 4-1, in Monday's semifinal showdown between the border rivals at the IIHF World Junior Championship.

There will be no gold-medal repeat for the Americans, who took the title from Canada last year in Saskatoon but gave it back on their home turf in a game that was never close.

Buffalo Sabres officials appropriately tried to push the fact this was a Team USA home game by passing out flags and other stars and stripes items.

Music like Neil Diamond's "America" and James Brown's "Living in America" was played at heavy-metal volume. PA announcements greeting the players treated the Americans with the enthusiasm and volume normally reserved for the Sabres, the Canadians with the temerity of obscure no-names like the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Even Sabretooth got into the act, sporting one of Team USA's throwback 1960 Olympic jerseys with the Sabres patch on the left breast. Tweeted the furry mascot: "Tonight will be strange. I will be hated by about 18,000 people in my own arena. I hope the American fans got my back."

Sorry, Tooth. You had no chance.

The sellout crowd of 18,690 had to be about three-quarters Canadian fans. Maybe more. Canada's national team jerseys, both the red and white versions, were omnipresent in every section you scanned.

And every chant of "U-S-A, U-S-A" was quickly drowned out by a much louder rumble of "Can-a-da, Can-a-da."

"The crowd was absolutely nuts out there," said Canada goalie Mark Visentin, who blanked the Americans for the first 49 1/2 minutes. "I couldn't hear myself think. It hurt my ears at times. Amazing."

By the middle of the second period, the Canada fans -- the visitors, remember -- were chanting, "This is our house, this is our house." Then they started a full-out wave that sped around every corner of the building.

"We knew what the atmosphere was going to be like," said Team USA captain John Ramage. "We were prepared for it. We just didn't respond."

"You've got to give it up to the Canadians," added USA forward Chris Krieder. "They came out and played like men. We didn't play our game."

Canada meets Russia on Wednesday night at 7:30 in the gold medal game after the tournament's Cardiac Kids pulled off a thriller for the second straight night by rallying to beat Sweden in a shootout, 4-3.

Team USA will play Sweden for the bronze Wednesday at 3:30.

Canada had a 41-23 edge in shots, got first-period goals from Curtis Hamilton and Quinton Howden and was never threatened. Ryan Johansen scored in the second period and Sabres draftee Zack Kassian added the final Canadian goal on a nifty breakaway at 6:02 of the third. Chris Brown put Team USA on the board at 9:38 of the third period.

The Canadians dominated the Americans physically, forced Team USA into numerous bad passes and never gave the defending gold medalists any chance to stay in the game.

The Americans were so discombobulated that one of their best checks of the night, a center-ice lineup by Mitch Callahan in the second period, was accidentally planted on the chest of teammate Drew Shore.

"We were so excited, so proud to be a part of this game," said Canada captain Ryan Ellis, one of four players to endure last year's heartbreak. "I've got confidence in my team but I don't know I've [ever] been a part of one that's been that complete for 60 minutes."

"It was a bit of everything, including the fact they beat us last year on our own soil," Kassian said. "We want to get that gold medal back really bad and we played like it tonight."

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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