STUTTGART, Germany -- George Zajankala's second goal of the game just 37 seconds into the third period lifted Team Canada to a 4-3 victory over Slovakia in the tournament opener for both teams at the Deutschland Cup on Friday.
Zajankala, of North Delta, B.C., converted a feed from Ryan Duthie of Red Deer, Alta., during a Team Canada power play, snapping a 3-3 tie and getting the National Team off to a promising start at a tournament Canada never has won.
'In a short, four-team tournament, the first win is huge,' said Mike Johnston, Team Canada's associate coach and general manager. 'We haven't won the Deutschland Cup previously and now we have a shot at it.'
Andrew McKim, of Saint-John, N.B., one of four pros playing in Europe who were added to Team Canada's roster for the tournament, drew assists on goals by North Vancouver's Dave Tomlinson, another of the additions, and Mike Stewart of Calgary. The other players added to the roster were defenceman Derek Mayer of Rossland, B.C., and defenceman Stephane Richer of Hull, Que.
Michal Hrews of Slovakia opened the scoring at 10:46 of the first period, but Tomlinson's goal at 17:45 pulled Canada even. Zdeno Ciger, who scored 31 goals for the Edmonton Oilers last season, gave Slovakia a 2-1 lead when he scored at 15:51 of the second period, but Zajankala's first goal of the game, just 22 seconds later at 16:13 tied the game 2-2.
Stewart gave Canada a 3-2 lead less than two minutes later, but that advantage was erased by Slovakia's Juraj Kledrowetz, setting the stage for Zajankala's third-period heroics.
Canada plays Germany on Saturday and faces Italy on Sunday in the tournament, a straight round-robin affair.
Next week, Team Canada travels to Oslo, Norway to participate in the Rimi Cup tournament against Austria, Switzerland and the host team.