Canada’s attempt at eight straight Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup championships began on a very strong note on Monday, defeating the hosts from the Czech Republic 3-1 in Breclav.
The Czech’s didn’t forget their loss in the final game of the tournament a year ago, hoping to instead vow revenge against their Canadian opponents on Monday. Just three and a half minutes into the opening frame, Matyáš Kantner picked up a loose puck following a shot from the point just in front of the net, scooping it over Canada’s Carter Hart for the 1-0 lead early on in the contest.
Canada wouldn’t let their opponents escape with the lead for long. Just a few minutes later, Michael McLeod slipped the puck to a streaking Dilon Dube, who deked out Czech netminder Adam Brizgala before roofing it backhand for the 1-1 goal. The goal came just after Jake Bean was called for high sticking, resulting in a shorthanded marker for the seven time defending champions.
Late in the first period, Canada took the 2-1 lead. Pierre-Luc Dubois would do the hard work, taking a quick wrist shot from just outside the right face-off circle, but Nolan Patrick was right there for the tip to give Canada the one goal advantage heading into the intermission.
Early in the second, the Czech’s almost handed a goal right to the Canadians. After goaltender Adam Brízgala accidentally threw his stick, Nolan Patrick was given a chance to score his second goal with a penalty shot opportunity. Brízgala game up big on the penalty shot chance, making a fantastic sliding save to keep his team within a goal. Brízgala had to be the busiest player on the ice, making some big stops on some of Canada’s biggest shooters during the second period.
After a rather conservative start to the third period, Canada scored with under ten minutes left in the game. Defenseman Jake Bean made a good rushing effort into the offensive zone following some incredible work along the boards by the whole team, eventually shooting the puck towards the net. Bean wouldn’t score, however, but Beck Malenstyn was right there for the chance to bat the puck in and secure the 3-1 lead, a lead that the Czech’s would never be able to recover from.
Canada will look to stay undefeated with a 9:20am EST start against the Swedes on Tuesday. Sweden is looking for a very similar result as well, as the squad managed to take down Switzerland 4-3 earlier on Monday.
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