The first semi-final match of the Spengler Cup couldn’t have had any more action, with Canada coming back from a 4-1 deficit in the second to beat HC Davos 6-5 to advance to the tournament finals.
Davos couldn’t have gotten off to a better start in the first period. With Trevor Carrick in the box for Canada, Gregory Sciaroni took advantage of terrible defensive coverage by Alex Picard and Marc-Andre Bergeron before slipping the puck past Jeff Glass for the 1-0 goal after 6:16 of play. Sciaroni was a popular player in Davos the night before after scoring the overtime winner in a come-from-behind victory for the hosts in blue and yellow, eliminating Helsinki Jokerit to advance to the semi-finals.
Just over 20 seconds later, the Canadians found themselves down by two quicker than you could say maple syrup. This time, Sven Ryser would out race a Canadian defenseman to chase down a breakaway, beating Glass stick side after the former Ottawa Senators prospect failed to get a proper poke check on the play.
The game was obviously far from over, proven by Canada answering back with a goal of their own. James Sheppard had a few very good chances early in the game, but it would be Tom Pyatt who would get Canada on the board first. Sheppard found his linemate all alone in the slot, with Pyatt spinning around before firing a very quick backhand over Leonardo Genoni for the 2-1 goal.
Davos got very bad news near the end of the first. Sciaroni, easily one of Davos’ most effective forwards all tournament long. was hit very hard by Chris DiDomenico, with his right wrist taking most of the damage. He would leave the ice in a lot of pain, leaving Davos with 11 forwards for the remainder of the contest. His team made Canada pay for that, with Davos forward Alexandre Picard picking up a loose rebound just in front of the crease before swiping it past Glass for the 3-1 lead heading into the intermission.
Glass made a few big saves to start the second period, but his night would be over after 26 minutes played. The fourth Davos goal wasn’t his fault, as a screen in front made it impossible for the KHL goaltender to see the puck. Nonetheless, Felician Du Bois was still able to penetrate the net, giving the Swiss club the 4-1 lead in a surprise lead for Davos.
Putting in Matt Climie, who was added to Canada yesterday following an injury to Drew MacIntyre, seemed to help the Canadians as the team went the other way and cut the lead in half. James Sheppard answered back just 22 seconds after thanks to a great play by Pyatt, who fought off a Davos defender before sending a pass in front while falling down.
Canada’s resilient effort rewarded them with another goal in a contest that seemed to have no shortage of them. Cory Conacher and Derek Roy didn’t have luck poking the puck in during a little scramble in front of the crease, but Matt Ellison was right there to scoop it up and backhand it over Genoni to bring Canada within a goal with half the game still to go.
Canada’s incredible second period saw the team tie the game up before the frame was finished. Ellison would be the hero once again, tucking in a goal after his line buzzed around all period long to tie the game up at four before heading into the most important period of the tournament for both squads.
Climie looked very good, stopping the first eight shots in the first 20 minutes he played in. His ninth shot against, however, proved to be too much for the former Dallas Stars prospect, who would allow his first goal of the contest. This time, Perttu Lindgren, the leading scorer for HCD, took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone before beating Climie with a weak one just under the right blocker to give Davos the 5-4 lead with 12 minutes left.
Was Canada done? Not even close. With five minutes left in the game, Matt D’agostini found Alex Giroux all alone in front before the former AHLer squeaked the puck under Genoni’s pad somehow and in to tie the game up a five. Then, with 3:30 left in the game, Cory Conacher, who had been one of Canada’s most dangerous players all tournament long, took a pass from Ellison before firing a fast wrist shot overtop of Genoni, putting Canada in the lead for the first time in the game at the most important time.
With the big victory, Canada will play in the Spengler Cup finals for the first time since they won it in 2012, when the country brought NHL stars such as John Tavares and Tyler Seguin due to the lockout. Canada has previously won the tournament 12 times, while taking second place in nine others, most recently back in 2010.
For Davos, the team will return to NLA league action with a game against Auston Matthews and the Zurich Lions on January 2nd before refocusing their efforts on the Champions Hockey League semi-finals later in the month.
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