CANADIAN COMEBACK FORCES OT, BUT U18S FALL TO CZECHS
LAPPEENRANTA, Finland – Daniel Audette (Blainville, Que./Sherbrooke, QMJHL) scored with 7:39 to go to force overtime, but Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team dropped a 4-3 decision to the Czech Republic in semifinal action Saturday at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship.
The loss means Canada will meet Sweden for the bronze medal on Sunday; the game can be seen live on TSN, beginning at 8 a.m. ET/5 a.m. PT.
Audette’s goal capped Canada’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit, but the Canadians won’t get a chance to defend the gold medal they won last year in Sochi, Russia.
Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, B.C./Seattle, WHL) and Joe Hicketts (Kamloops, B.C./Victoria, WHL) had the other Canadian goals. Audette and Barzal finished with a goal and an assist each.
It took only 75 seconds for the Czechs to take an early lead; Michael Spacek beat Mason McDonald (Halifax, N.S./Charlottetown, QMJHL) to open the scoring, the lone goal in a period that saw the Czechs outshoot Canada 13-10.
A pair of goals five minutes apart in the second period, from Jakub Vrana at 7:37 and Jiri Smejkal at 12:57, pushed the lead to 3-0, but that’s when the Canadian comeback began.
Barzal got Canada on the board less than two minutes after Smejkal’s goal, tipping an Audette feed through the five-hole of Czech netminder Vitek Vanecek, sending the Canadians to dressing room down a pair after 40 minutes.
Hicketts made it a one-goal game five minutes in the third when his wrist shot through traffic beat Vanecek, and Audette tied it seven minutes after that, jamming in a rebound at the side of the net.
Canada had the best chance late, but a shot that beat Vanecek rang off both posts and stayed out.
Shortly after a Canadian power play had concluded in overtime, David Kase stripped the puck from Barzal and snuck a shot up and over McDonald’s glove, ending Canada’s reign as U18 world champions.
The Canadians will play for bronze for the seventh time; they won a medal in 2012, and finished fourth in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011.