December 10 - A day before the official Opening Ceremony, the 2013 Winter Universiade action got underway here today as the first ice hockey matches were played and hosts Italy got off to the perfect start with an impressive win over Latvia.
The Azzuri came out determined to put on a show for the home fans and they did not disappoint, coming away with a 4-2 win.
Simon Kostner was the star man for the hosts as he contributed the opening goal and then provided an assist as Marcello Villages extended Italy's lead.
Latvia could not stem the blue tide and two further strikes from Peter Channel and Federico Gilmozzi put the game's result beyond doubt.
The Italians took their feet off the pedal somewhat late on, allowing Latvia in for two goals but it was too little too late for the visitors.
"It's always nice to score goals, but with the national team and in front of your audience [it] has a special flavour," said Kostner.
Elsewhere in the men's competition, the United States came out on top against Sweden in a close encounter with Christopher Joseph giving them a first period lead before a Robert Bodette strike late on saw them over the line.
North American rivals Canada had no such trouble in their first outing as they cruised past Japan 12-1, Nick MacNeil top scoring on four goals for the Maple Leafs.
Mai Morii, Rio Sakamoto and Yukina Ota starred for the Japanese, each bagging a brace of goals.
There was an even more one-sided encounter in the final match on the ice as one of the pre-tournament favourites Canada overcame a Spanish side who looked totally out of their depth on a score-line of 21-0.
Laura Brooker and Gabrielle Davidson helped themselves to hat-tricks apiece while Jessica Tuesday Pinkerton and Josianne Legault bagged two goals each.
Sandwiched between these two lob sided contests was a much closer affair between heavyweights Russia and the US, and it was the North Americans who prevailed 4-2.
The US led 2-1 after the first period thanks to Alisha Difillippo and Cassondra Catlow cancelling out Maria Kirilenko's effort for the Russians.
Molly Sparks extended the Americans' lead during the second before Kirilenko dragged her side to within one goal again but a late Katelyn Augustine strike sealed the win for the US.
The next round of hockey games in both men's and women's competitions is due to take place on Thursday (December 12).
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