ZDAR, CZECH REPUBLIC -- Brett DeCecco of Sherwood Park, AB scored the tying goal with less than four minutes to play and Vincent Lecavalier of Ile-Bizard, Que., fired in the winner with 55 seconds left in the third period to lift Canada's Under-18 Team to a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic in the final game of a three-nations tournament on Sunday.
Justin Papineau of Ottawa, Canada's top pointgetter at the tournament with eight points in three games, including four goals, scored Canada's first goal at 15:53 of the third period, cutting a 2-0 Czech Republic lead in half. Ales Padelek, who scored at 10:32 of the opening period, and Michal Herzig, who scored on a Czech power play at 9:39 of the middle period, were the goalscorers for the Czechs. The host Czech team had defeated Slovakia 4-1 on Saturday to advance to play Canada in the final.
"I think it was a great game for Canada," said Lecavalier, 17, who plays for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "We never gave up, even when it was 2-0 with five minutes left to play. As always, the tradition continues for Canada."
Lecavalier had three goals and three assists for six points in three games at the tournament, second only to Papineau among Canadian pointgetters. Goalie Jake McCracken of Melbourne, ON, who plays for the Sault Ste-Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, had little work but was sharp when called upon, as he faced just nine shots from the Czechs. Canada fired 32 shots at Czech goalie Zdenek Smid.
"We dominated the whole game, but couldn't seem to buy a goal," said Canadian head coach Claude Julien, also head coach of the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "But our players never gave up and found a way to win. We should all be proud of them."
Throughout the game, the Canadians took away the neutral zone, slowing the talented Czechs to a crawl and denying them opportunity to mount a sustained attack. Canada finished the tournament with two victories and a tie for five points, followed by the Czechs, who had one victory and a pair of losses for two points. Slovakia tied one game and lost another, finishing third with one point.
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