FROM THE POINT
Canada lost 4-2 to Sparta Prag (Czech Republic) and now faces the prospect of missing the final for the first time since 1999. Canada must win their final game of the round robin against IFK Helsinki (Finland) and hope that Sparta can defeat the host club Davos (Switzerland).
For the third game in a row, Canada started slowly. The physical Czech club pressured the Canadians from the start and forced them into taking four penalties in the opening period. David Vyborny, who plays in the National Hockey league for Columbus, scored on a power play at the 6:30 mark and that was followed by another Czech goal from Jan Hlavac at 9:27 to put Team Canada down 2-0.
“We have excuses for starting slowly in games this tournament, but none that are really good,” said team captain Jamie Heward. “We just have to do better than that.”
“They played well and we expected a physical effort from the Czechs, “ said Canadian forward Hnat Domenichelli. “This game came down to specialty teams. We had chances to score on the power play and couldn’t. They had the chances and did.”
Canada seemed to find their footing at times in the second period, but couldn’t pierce the amour of Czech net minder Tomas Popperle, a surprise starter over Colorado Avalanche net minder David Aebischer who was picked up by Sparta for the tournament. Popperle stopped 39 of the 41 shots he faced.
“He was a little unorthodox out there, “ said Canada’s Stacey Roest. “We just kept trying to hammer away but he was tough to beat.”
The Czechs scored a late period power play goal when Martin Chabada finished off a beautiful 3 way passing play at 19:52 of the second to put Canada down 3-0.
Canada finally solved Popperle 3:32 into the third when Roest knocked one in. Canadian forwards continued to ramp up the pressure on the Czech defense, pounding 18 shots on goal in the final frame. Domenichelli’s power play goal with under five minutes remaining pulled Canada to within one. Canada found itself on another power play when Petr Ton took a cross checking penalty with 1:33 remaining in the game. Canada pulled goaltender Alex Auld and worked with a two-man advantage. The comeback was stomped on when Michael Bros picked off an errant pass from Domenichelli in the neutral zone and fired the puck into the empty net.
“We’re in the position now of having to rely on someone else to help us get to the final”, said Domenichelli. “We have to take care of business and beat a very tough Finnish team and then hope that the Czechs come out and play hard and beat Davos. If we make it, we deserve to be there; if we don’t then we don’t deserve it. It’s a simple as that.”
For more information:
Brad Pascall Vice-President, Hockey Operations