After a terrible start in the first 24 minutes, Canada went on to dominate the second half of the game to defeat Slovenia 6-5, advancing to the semi-finals on Friday.
Canada did not look like the hungrier team right off the opening face off. Slovenia, having come into the game with no wins, had nothing to lose in a game that could have been one of the biggest in the history of the team. Halfway through the opening quarter, Jure Soltar gave Slovenia the surprising 1-0 lead after breaking past a slow moving defender and tapping the puck in just in front of the crease.
At 9:11 of the first, Sultar would once again find the back of the net. With Canada failing to really challenge their Slovenian opponents, Sultar danced around the defensemen in red and white before eventually deking out goaltender Brett Leggat for the 2-0 goal.
Just before the end of the first quarter, Canada managed to take the stunning 3-0 lead. After getting taken down on a breakaway chance, Ales Remar was awarded a penalty shot opportunity, a chance the Slovenian forward would not let go to waste. His wrist shot from the slot was too much for Leggat to get a hold of, going off the post and in for the 3-0 goal heading into the first break.
With just over eight minutes to go in the first half, Slovenia would steal another one. Canada’s non-existent defense would end up burning them again as Rok Jakopic tapped in the re-direction from the doorstep after standing all alone to contribute to Slovenia’s four goal lead.
Canada would eventually get a few chances late in the second quarter after some penalty troubles got in the way for Slovenia. The team would actually get the puck into the back of the net, but a review would sour their hopes after the goal was waved off. Canada, who only took two shots in the entire first period, really couldn’t seem to find their game in the first half, making the reality that the top team in Group B could end up packing their bags early even more real.
Four minutes into the third quarter, Canada finally found themselves on the scoresheet in a positive way. This time, it was Canadian scoring star Dave Hammond who would find a way to get the goal, firing a shot over the glove of goaltender Tomaz Trelc for the 4-1 goal.
With 6:43 remaining in the third quarter, Canada would cut the lead in half. It would require another review, but after the ref took a look at the replays, it was determined that Adam Ross touched the puck before falling into the crease, allowing Canada to keep their goal and continue their battle back into the lead.
A minute later, Canada scored once again. This time, it would be Josh Foote whose breakaway proved to be unstoppable, sending the puck through Trelc’s five-hole to put themselves within a goal of the lead. With 4:59 left in the third quarter, Canada would completely erase the four goal deficit, tying the game up after his wrist shot went low blocker on Trelc for the 4-4 goal.
Foote was having a great game, and after doing all the work in front of the Slovenian net, Canada found themselves in the lead for the first time in the game. Foote wasn’t the one who scored the goal, however, as Kyle Henderson was in the right spot at the right time to tap in the puck and take the 5-4 lead heading into the final quarter.
Slovenia wasn’t ready to allow the game to go back the other way without a fight. With 6:49 left in regulation, Mateuz Erman’s power-play wrist shot blew past Leggat, tying the game up once again. The goal the Canadians into a hole, but luckily for the pre-game favourites, there would be no monumental upset as Thomas Woods came up huge with under two minutes to go with a quick shot below the glove, giving his team the 6-5 victory.
With the win, Canada will face Sweden in the second semi-final game tomorrow at 1pm EST. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Finland vs Slovakia game right before, and after Canada took down Slovakia in the first game of the tournament, they probably have a more preferred choice to face in the finals.
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