MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – It may not have been the start it wanted, but the finish was pretty good for Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team.
For the second time in as many games, the Canadians claimed victory in a pre-tournament game ahead of the 2009 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, using three second-period goals to erase an early 2-0 deficit en route to a 5-2 win over Slovakia on Tuesday night.
Canada found itself in a 2-0 hole with the game just 93 seconds old thanks to an early strike and a power play marker by the Slovakians, but those would be the only pucks to beat Bryce O’Hagan (Burlington, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL), who made 18 saves to record the win.
Outshooting the Slovakians 12-9 through 20 minutes, Canada finally hit the scoreboard just past the 13-minute mark of the middle frame as Dylan Olsen blasted a point shot past Slovakian netminder Juraj Holly with his team enjoying a two-man advantage.
It pulled even just 44 seconds later on the same power play, with John McFarland (Richmond Hill, Ont./Sudbury, OHL) getting the equalizer, and Zack Kassian (LaSalle, Ont./Peterborough, OHL) rounded out a big second period for the Canadians by giving them their first lead of the game late in the frame.
Byron Froese (Winkler, Man./Everett, WHL) and Landon Ferraro (Vancouver, B.C./Red Deer, WHL) rounded out the scoring with insurance goals in the third period as Canada finished its pre-tournament schedule with a 2-0 record.
Canada, which outshot Slovakia 40-20, opens defence of its 2008 world championship on Thursday, when it takes on Germany in Fargo, N.D.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)