BRECLAV/PIESTANY – Looking at their performance through the first two games of the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, it is no surprise that the Canadians have won this event 16 times since it began in 1991. Coming off a convincing opening game win over Switzerland, Canada got an early lead on Sweden, claiming a 7-5 win in their second game.
Prior to the beginning of the tournament, Canada lost an exhibition game 6-4 against the co-hosts Czech Republic, something that head coach Todd Gill believes has sparked the team to a 2-0 record in the preliminary round.
“Having an exhibition game against the Czechs and losing, it may have been the best thing to have happened to us,” he said. “It humbled us and made us play better against the Swiss and today against Sweden.”
“You got 22 kids that are all coming together, they’re all skilled, they’re all superstars on their respective teams but we’re asking them to play different roles and do different things. It’s hard to accept at the start but after a couple of wins they’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If everybody buys in and does what they’re supposed to do then we have a real opportunity to win a gold medal.”
The Canadian offence pounced on Sweden early and often as Nathan MacKinnon and Morgan Klimchuk both scored in the opening two minutes.
Sweden responded following Klimchuk’s goal, notching a pair of their own with two power play goals from Fabian Gunnarsson and Victor Öhman.
Canadian forward Anthony Duclair put his team up ahead prior to the end of the first, with an assist coming from linemate Max Domi. Domi then helped return a comfortable lead to the Canadians, assisting on a goal by Curtis Lazar 2:23 into the second frame and following that up with a score of his own a minute later. Both goals came with the man advantage.
Although Gunnarsson’s second goal of the game brought Sweden within striking distance going into the second intermission, Canada’s captain Sam Reinhart got the puck on a breakaway and added another goal short-handed, scoring what would be the eventual game winner early in the third period with Duclair in the box on a kneeing call.
Sweden didn’t bow out however, and with Duclair still serving his penalty Alexander Henriksson scored on the powerplay, and Tobias Liljendahl marked another to bring the Swedes within a goal. But Domi ended the game with an empty net score, giving Canada a 2-0 record and the top spot in Group B.
“We had to bounce back from the game against the Swiss, it was our first game but we felt we needed to work on a few things,” said Domi, who led the team with two goals and two assists. And Sweden is such a tough team but all the guys bought in and we had a great game.”
In other Group B action on Day 2 of the Ivan Hlinka tournament, Switzerland’s Patrick Brandli scored two goals, one of which came with his team short-handed three on five, to help his squad make up for their opening game loss to Canada with a 4-0 shutout against Slovakia.
In Group A, the United States let an early lead slip away to the Czech Republic and lost 5-2, while Russia defeated Finland 6-1. The Russians currently sit atop the Group with five points, while the US is currently tied with Finland at three points in the standings. The Americans and Finns will play each other in their final preliminary round game on Wednesday, with the winner advancing to the playoffs. The top two teams in each group advance to the semi-final round Friday, and the two semi-final winners will square off in the gold medal game on Saturday.
Group A in Breclav (CZE): Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, USA
Group B in Piestany (SVK): Canada, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland
Schedule & Scores:
Monday, 13 August 2012
In Piestany (14:00): Switzerland vs. Canada 1-4
In Breclav (15:30): USA vs. Russia 1-2 SO
In Piestany (17:30): Slovakia vs. Sweden 3-7
In Breclav (19:00): Czech Republic vs. Finland 1-2
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
In Piestany (14:00): Canada vs. Sweden 7-5
In Breclav (15:30): Russia vs. Finland 6-1
In Piestany (17:30): Slovakia vs. Switzerland 0-4
In Breclav (19:00): Czech Republic vs. USA 5-2
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
In Piestany (14:00): Sweden vs. Switzerland
In Breclav (15:30): Finland vs. USA
In Piestany (17:30): Slovakia vs. Canada
In Breclav (19:00): Czech Republic vs. Russia
Friday, 17 August 2012
Saturday, 18 August 2012
Bronze medal game
Gold medal game