Canada 5 vs. Czech Republic 2
Team Canada’s highly anticipated New Year’s Eve match-up against the Czech Republic turned out to in Canada's favour. Canada thoroughly outplayed the Czechs for a 5-2 win, but outcome was decided early as Canada built up a 3-0 lead in the first period.
To start the game, the Czechs looked much stronger and more energized than in their Dec. 30 2-1 win over Switzerland. For the first five minutes the game looked like it might be the close, tight checking affair Czech coach Alois Hadamczik promised.
Canadian forward Brent Burns, trying to set the physical tone early in the game as he often does, took a penalty on the opening shift for checking to the head, as well as a 10-minute misconduct, but the Czechs failed to take advantage.
Jeff Tambellini got things underway for Canada at 6:53 of the first when he tipped a beautiful pass from Sidney Crosby, who faked a shot to throw off the Czech defender.
Canada made it 2-0 when Jeff Carter scored into a yawning cage off a hard pass from the corner by Ryan Getzlaf. Burns also earned an assist on the play.
Team Canada then took advantage of the lack of Czech discipline to go up 3-0. With defenceman Martin Wagner already in the box for hooking, Czech forward Jakub Klepis took a tripping penalty to go two players down. Canada’s Nigel Dawes scored on a beautiful three-way set-up from Anthony Stewart and Derek Meech.
Canada took a 4-0 lead at 9:59 of the second period on a power play. Defenceman Dion Phaneuf took a pass from Getzlaf just inside the blueline, wristed it at the net and it found its way through.
The Czechs finally beat Canadian goaltender Marc Andre Fleury at 14:47 of the second period when forward Maxime Talbot was off for holding. Czech defenceman Ctirad Ovcacik carried the puck in through the slot and lifted a backhand high over Fleury’s glove hand as he slid down and to the right side of the net.
Canada’s best goal of the night came from Carter at 19:41 of the second period when he picked up the puck behind his own net and led a spectacular end to end rush. As he cut around the Czech defenceman he let a backhand shot go that squeezed through goalie Marek Schwarz’s legs.
The Czechs changed goalies to start the third, inserting Tomas Popperle for Schwarz, and looked much more spirited. They scored on the power play to make it 5-2 at 10:18 of the period. Even though they fired only nine shots at Fleury in the final 20 minutes, several of them were good hard shots and solid scoring chances.
Canada finished the game with 30 shots on goal, compared to the Czech’s 29.
Canada-Czech pre-game report
Helsinki - Team Canada faces its toughest test yet on Wednesday in the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championship when it puts its 3-0 record against the 2-1 Czech Republic on New Year’s Eve at 4 pm (Local in Helsinki) , 9 am Eastern/6am Pacific. The game can be seen live on TSN/RDS (check local listings) and via radio on the FAN radio network (www.fan590.com).
The Czech Republic is coming off a 2-1 win against Switzerland on Dec. 30, a victory that wasn’t sealed until late in the third period against the improving Swiss squad.
The Czechs opened the tournament on Dec. 26 with a solid 8-0 win over the Ukraine, but followed that up with a 3-2 loss to Finland on Dec. 28. The Czech Republic even had its hands full against the Swiss, now 1-2 going into their game against Finland on Dec. 31 following the Canada-Czech game here in Helsinki.
The Swiss, in fact, put up quite a fight for the Czechs, taking a 1-1 tie deep into the third period. Czech goalie Marek Schwarz made a number of key saves early in the period, including a quick kick save around the 13:30 mark that Swiss forward Lukas Grauwiler deflected off a defender’s skate. Schwarz faced just 22 shots over the course of the game, but a number of them were good chances.
The Czechs finally beat Swiss goaltender Daniel Manzato, who stopped 38 shots to earn player of the game honors for his team, at 14:30 of the third on a power play.
Czech star Jiri Hudler, who won player of the game against the Swiss, is sure to display his speed and puck handling skills against Canada. The Detroit Red Wings prospect, at just 5-foot-10, made several deft rushes and showed excellent puck control skills down low.
Canada spent the day Dec. 30 practising in the morning, before watching the Czech-Swiss game.
Czech coach Alois Hadamczik said the plan against Canada is “to play a very tight and defensive game.” The Czechs have allowed just four goals over three games.
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications