Canada lost its opening game at the 2003 Nagano Cup, edged 6-5 by the representatives from the Czech Republic, Pardubice, the current first place team in the Czech Elite League. Canada is represented by the 2002 Allan Cup Champion, Saint-Georges Garaga. The winning goal came off of the stick of Petr Prucha at 16:19 of the final frame, ruining an otherwise gritty and tenacious performance by the Canadian side, that was outshot 62-30.
The Czechs opened the scoring at 11:11 of the first frame, as Radoslav Kropac beat former NHL-er André Racicot. Canada evened the score at 18:51, on a powerplay, as Mark Kaufmann converted a François Bourdeau pass past Czech netminder Martin Barek.
The Czechs regained the lead early in the second, on a goal by Tomas Divisek, a 1998 draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, but Canada replied with two goals in the space of 1:15. Karl Fleury tied the game at 2-2 at 6:43, and at 7:58, Claude Morin gave Canada its first lead of the game. As was the case throughout the game, no lead was safe and Petr Sykora, a 1997 Detroit Red Wing draft pick, scored at 9:19 to put the Czechs on equal footing.
Canada's Jean-François Grégoire closed out the scoring in the middle period, and Canada held to a 4-3 lead through forty minutes of play.
The Czechs scored twice in the third to lay claim to a 4-3 lead, with Jan Kolar and Ladislav Lubina each beating Racicot. Canada tied it at 4-4 at 14:40, when Grégoire scored his second goal of the game shorthanded, with an assist going to Frédéric Vermette. Prucha's game-winning goal however spoiled Canada's debut at the 2003 Nagano Cup.
Canada's next game comes against Finland on Monday, February 10th. The 2003 Nagano Cup runs through February 12th, with teams from Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland and Japan taking part.
For more information:
Brad Pascall Vice-President, Hockey Operations