The Czechs won a tight game 2–1 over the USA on Saturday in Břeclav, while Canada´s 12–1 win over Slovakia in Trnava was anything but. It was the last day of tune-ups before the tournament starts for real on Monday, with all eight teams in action.
In Břeclav, both the Czechs and Americans spent a lot of time in the penalty box and all three goals were scored on the power play. Daniel Kurovský opened the scoring late in the first period when he charged to the net and banged in a loose puck. It stayed 1–0 until the 48th minute when Timmy Gettinger deflected Henry Crone´s long wrister through traffic to tie the score. Petr Kodýtek scored the game-winning goal with 6:10 on the clock, putting in another rebound.
“It was a difficult game on difficult ice,” said head coach Robert Reichel. “The guys today played the first match, so it sort of playing. In the first period we had a lot of power plays and in the second we were shorthanded a lot, and because of that we were under a lot of pressure. The last period was the kind of hockey we want to play and the boys stuck to the game plan. Considering it´s the beginning of the season for us and we were facing such a quality opponent, I´m very pleased with the result.”
Both teams used two goalies in the game – Adam Brízgala and Stephen Dhillon started for the Czechs and Americans, respectively, and were each replaced midway through the second period by Josef Kořenář and Dayton Rasmussen.
“It was beneficial for us to get a chance to play a game in a good atmosphere,” American coach Derek Plante said about the game in front of the Czech fans. “They played a really tough game and we got some chances, but we just couldn´t capitalize. Their goalies were great. I´m glad we were able to kill off most of the penalties, but we still have work to do. We lost, but this game doesn´t count in the tournament standings, so Monday we have to be better prepared.”
The Americans now travel to Bratislava, where they start Group B play on Monday against Finland. The Czechs stay in Břeclav, where they face seven-time defending champion Canada also on Monday.
The Canadians sent a clear message that they intend to win for an eighth straight year, dismantling Team Slovakia 12–1 in Trnava. Canada led 3–0 after one period and 7–0 after two. Defenceman Kale Clague scored the game´s first two goals, then completed his hat-trick with just 11 seconds to play in the game. Tyson Jost, Tyler Benson and Nolan Patrick also had three-point efforts.
“Boys in red played a real solid game. Real tournament starts Monday,” Canadian coach Stan Butler tweeted after Saturday´s win.The game was preceded by a moment of silence for Ján Šterbák, the former Czechoslovakian national team player and Slovakian national team coach, who passed away early on Saturday. The fans in attendance remained silent for the most part until Erik Rajnoha finally solved goalie Carter Hunt with the lone Slovak goal with four minutes to play. Dylan Wells was perfect in the Canadian net the first half of the game. For the Slovaks, Ján Kožiák allowed the first six Canadian goals and Roman Durný was in for the last five.
“This was our first international game of the season, and the differences between the teams were considerable,” Slovak head coach Anton Bartánus explained. “There´s really no other way I can break it down than to say they beat us in all facets. Canada was better. They have about 10 players that could be taken in the first round of the NHL draft. But despite that I also saw some positive things.”
The Slovaks now travel to Bratislava, where they play Russia on Monday.