Canada finished their fourth and final Summer Showcase game in Calgary with a bang, taking the 6-2 victory over the Czech Republic on Thursday.
For the first time in four games, Canada was able to find the back of the net first against the Czech Republic. Known more for their slower starts, Canada’s offense was key early on, and a goal at the halfway point in the first period would give them the 1-0 lead early. Mathew Barzal is known for his incredible ability to make tremendous passes, so his pass from the right of the Canadian net to Oliver Leblanc at the point looked like standard practice. Leblanc’s one-timer was way too much for Karel Vejmelka to handle, and the puck would go blocker side on the Czech goalie and in to take the one goal advantage.
Both teams traded some solid scoring opportunities in the first half of the second, but nobody could find the back of the net. Canada’s best chance to get the 2-0 lead came with about 12 minutes left in the period when Robby Fabbri danced around a few defenders with his quick movements, putting himself in a solid position to make a pass. Barzal was in an even better spot to receive a pass, and after taking the puck in front of the net, he attempted a back hand chance on Vejmelka. Vejmelka was sharp on the play however, getting across in time to use the right pad to make the save, keeping it a one-goal game.
With 10:17 off the clock, Canada would take the 2-0 lead. This time, Joe Hicketts, the only returning defenseman on the team this year, sent a puck from beside his own goalie, all the way down to Brayden Point at the opposing blue line. Point knew a thing or two about scoring against the Czech’s, and after a five point night on Tuesday, he’d add to his strong performance by deking out Vejmelka for the 2-0 goal.
After Mackenzie Blackwood played in half the game in net, Canada decided to let Samuel Montembeault have a go between the pipes. Blackwood had proven himself to be a very legitimate threat for Canada, making 26 saves against the Czech’s in the busiest night of all three goalies (the third being Mason McDonald, who has prior experience with Canada) back on Tuesday. For Montembeault, he was the only goalie who would allow more than a goal in a single game after a 3-2 loss on Wednesday. That doesn’t mean that he played bad, however, as Russia’s scoring chances in that game proved to be some of the most dangerous that any of the three had to face during the past week.
With a minute left to go, Canada got one of the nicest goals of the entire tournament. Of course, Point had to be involved in the play, but after some tremendous passing with Nick Merkley, Canada would take the 3-0 lead. Merkley would get the goal, one-timing it off of a great feed right in front of the crease to give Canada the three goal advantage heading into the final period.
The two teams would trade goals before the third period was five minutes old. First, Jan Ordos made a fantastic deke around Alexandre Carrier before dishing off the disk to Jakub Zboril, who flipped the puck over the helpless Canadian goaltender and in to cut Canada’s lead to 3-1. Canada’s three goal lead wouldn’t be put down for too long, however, as Mitch Marner dodged two flying Czech defenders to somehow find Dylan Strome, who skated in and fired it in the net for the 4-1 goal.
With 12:18 to go in the game, the Merkley-Point combination would prove to be dangerous once again. Point’s playmaking abilities makes him one of the best passers on the team, and after somehow finding Merkley in front of the net through traffic, the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect would grab his eighth point of the tournament after Merkley shoveled the puck in the net.
With most of Canada watching political debates, Strome was out there putting pucks past the opposition. With 13:25 complete in the third, Thomas Chabot took a huge slap shot from the point, only to go off Strome and in for the 6-1 goal. Canada wouldn’t top their 7-1 win from a few nights ago, and would instead allow a last minute goal to the Czech’s, but their 6-2 effort was good enough to win the game before heading into the rest of the summer.
With the tournament over, Canada finished with a 3-1 record, which actually means nothing in terms of a trophy or anything. Canada will invite the best players back to Calgary in December, where they’ll compete in some more exhibition games before traveling over to Helsinki, Finland. The team has to be fully finalized by Christmas, with the Canadians taking on the United States in the first game on December 26th.
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