Canada 2 - Czech Republic 1
BLUNDEN’S LATE GOAL GIVES CANADA EXHIBITION WIN OVER CZECHS
By Kevin Parnell | Box Score
It took until the final minute of the game to seal the deal, but Canada delighted a Kelowna crowd Tuesday night, winning 2-1 in dramatic fashion over the Czech Republic.
Erie Otters forward Michael Blunden sniped the winner with just 50 seconds to play as he converted a centering pass from Steve Downie.
“It’s an exhibition game, but it’s a building block,” said Team Canada Head Coach Brent Sutter. “We talked about coming in today as game one for us in a set of games. We have to start forming an identity.”
Much of the game was played tightly, although the Canadians got stronger as the game progressed, outshooting the Czechs 14-3 in the third period and 32-19 overall.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Sutter. “To be honest, I was a little worried coming, in with a young team, that we would kind of be sitting back and feeling it out. But for the most part our 5-on-5 play was very good. We didn’t give them a lot of scoring chances, and when we did ,(goalie) Devan (Dubnyk) was good.”
Radek Fiala and Ondrej Pavelec divided up netminding duties in goal for the Czech Republic.
Canada opened the scoring during a first-period man advantage, scoring on a nice passing play in which every player on the ice touched the puck. Benoit Pouliot wound up with the puck and he spotted Jonathan Toews in the slot. Toews zipped a shot into the top corner for a 1-0 lead.
Pouliot was thrown out of the game with a five-minute major for elbowing midway through the second period.
On the ensuing power play, the Czechs tied the game at 1-1, as Vaclav Meidl beat Dubnyk on a goal-mouth scramble. The score remained deadlocked heading into the third period.
Along with the five-minute major, the referee whistled several other penalties in this tightly called affair, including two diving penalties on the Czech Republic.
“We still haven’t exactly been told how this is going to be called,” said Sutter of the officiating. “It will be confirmed in the next few days. They are saying zero tolerance, but what is zero tolerance? Is it what is called in the NHL, or is it zero tolerance?”
It was a home game of sorts for one Canadian forward. Blake Comeau of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets showed a feisty style in front of his 6,109 hometown fans, throwing several good bodychecks along the way. Comeau was happy with the team’s performance.
“We said we wanted to treat this like the first game of the tournament, and I thought we came out and gave it a good effort,” said Comeau. “There are some things we have to work on and we will tomorrow in practice.”
On December 22, Canada will meet Russia in Kamloops and the Czechs will face Switzerland in Chilliwack in the final exhibition tilts for both teams before the tournament opens on Boxing Day.
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications