Canadian juniors Czech out just fine
Team wraps up pre-tournament warm-up games with perfect record; Canada 3 Czech Rep. 2
By Greg Harder, Regina Leader-Post; Canwest News Service
December 24, 2009
Junior Team Canada's Luke Adam takes Czech Michal Kempny into the boards during pre-tournament action at the Brandt Centre in Regina on Wednesday. Canada opens the tournament on Saturday against Slovakia.
Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Regina Leader-Post, Canwest News Service, Regina Leader-Post; Canwest News ServiceTeam Canada is heading out of Regina with an unblemished record, but still looking to clear up a few minor imperfections from its game before the start of the IIHF world junior hockey tournament.
The Canadians held off the Czech Republic for a 3-2 exhibition win on Wednesday night before a sellout gathering of 6,246 at the Brandt Centre. It was Canada's final tune-up before opening the 2010 world junior hockey championship on Saturday in Saskatoon against Latvia.
"I think it was a really good win for us," said Canadian sniper Taylor Hall, adding that the players were tired after a short turnaround from Tuesday's game in Calgary -- a 3-0 win over Finland.
"It's a good feeling. I can compare it to my club team in Windsor (the OHL's Spitfires). You know a good team when they win games that they shouldn't win (or) that they pull them off. It's a sign that you know how to win."
Team Canada has been based in Regina since opening its selection camp on Dec. 12. Now the national junior squad is slated to pack up and head for Saskatoon's Credit Union Centre, which will serve as the team's home base for the rest of the tournament.
Canada finished the pre-competition slate with a 3-0 record, beginning with a 6-2 win over Sweden. However, Wednesday's contest provided the first real taste of adversity.
"I think it was a real good game for us," said head coach Willie Desjardins.
"We needed a game like this. We hadn't been in that situation. I thought we handled it real well. I didn't think they got a lot of good chances."
Canada outshot the Czechs 15-5 in the first period, but couldn't solve goalie Pavel Francouz, who showed off a lightning-quick glove hand. The Czech netminder also got some help early in the second when defenceman Jaroslav Kruzik slid across to take an open net away from Stefan Della Rovere. The Czechs opened the scoring a few seconds later on a deflection by Tomas Vincour, who plays for the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings.
Canada responded 40 seconds after that thanks to a nice individual effort by Hall, who was initially stopped on a breakaway but banged in his own rebound.
Gabriel Bourque followed up with a short-handed goal, making Francouz look human with a long wrist shot to the blocker side. Hometown hero Jordan Eberle made it 3-1 on the power play with 26 seconds left in the second period, tucking Ryan Ellis's rebound under the crossbar.
The Czechs made it a one-goal game at 11:10 of the third when Canadian defenceman Jared Cowen's clearing attempt hit Jan Kana and bounced past goaltender Jake Allen to round out the scoring.
"They got on the board early in the second period and we bounced back right away and responded with three straight goals," Allen said. "It was huge, especially in the last exhibition game to see that we were able to do that. I knew we were but it's great to actually do it.
"We've made a lot of strides coming together in such a quick time. We still have a couple more days of practice before the first game. We're only going to get better."
The Czechs were outshot 33-22 overall, but had a 12-4 advantage in the third thanks to a late push.
"We knew Team Canada is probably the best team here so far," said Vincour, whose team beat the U.S. 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday in Moose Jaw.
"We didn't dress our second line (against Canada) so obviously we'd be better with those guys. We had a pretty tough game and I think we did pretty good."
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