BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA -- Canada's National Under-18 Hockey Team battled to a 3-3 tie with the Czech Republic on Thursday in the opening game for both teams in a four-nation international tournament.
Barrett Jackman of Fruitvale, BC, Rory McDade of New Westminister, BC and Brandin Cote of Yorkton Saskatchewan scored for Canada, which built a 3-1 lead, then hung on as the Czechs scored two third-period goals to earn the draw.
Brian Finley of Sault Ste. Marie, ON stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced in goal for Canada, which plays the host Slovaks on Saturday and Belarus on Sunday in the straight round-robin event.
The National Under-18 team is part of the Canadian Hockey Association's Program of Excellence, which is designed to identify top hockey prospects and provide them with opportunities to further develop their skills by playing for Canada against top-flight international competition.
Other components of the Program of Excellence include the regional Under-17 teams that compete in international tournaments in Canada each year and, of course, the National Junior Team, which is currently holding its summer evaluation camp in Winnipeg, MB, where the 1999 World Junior Championship will be held from Dec. 26-Jan. 5.