Nic Petan's two late goals lifted Canada past Slovakia 5-3. Anthony Mantha had a goal and three assists for the winners, who trailed 3-1 in the second period.
Most of the 2,558 fans at the Isstadion wore red and white and cheered for Canada, and the fans got exactly what they wanted – a Canadian win.
But the Slovaks were unfazed and silenced the fans with a power-play goal just 1:40 into the game. The man advantage was the result of a completely unnecessary hitting to the head penalty against Jonathan Drouin just ten seconds after the opening faceoff (and carried with it an automatic 10-minute misconduct).
Jakub Predajniansky’s point shot went wide to the near side of Zachary Furcale but came out the other where David Griger snapped it into the open side. The rest of the period was dominated by Canada, but despite the puck possession the players had trouble finishing around the goal.
Finally, though, the team got a late power play and converted when Anthony Mantha found Curtis Lazar at the top of the crease at 18:12 to tie the score, 1-1.
The second period was full of event thanks to a total loss of discipline on the part of the Canadians. After coming up empty on an early power play, they took four successive minors the rest of the middle 20 minutes, twice giving the Slovakians long 5-on-3 chances, twice surrendering goals.
And, as always, it was the top line of Griger-Milan Kolena-Martin Reway that did the damage. In the first instance, Reway drilled a great shot over the shoulder of Fucale, off the crossbar and in, at 7:07. Then, five minutes later, Griger finished a lovely passing play from his linemates to hit the open and back side of the net.
The Canadian fans were incensed at the refereeing, but they had only their own team to blame for the meltdown and parade to the sin bin. And then, just when it seemed the Canadian cause had all been lost, they clawed their way back.
Aaron Ekblad threw a quick shot at Samuel Baros in the Czech goal. The goalie failed to control the puck and over-sized Anthony Mantha muscled the puck in to make it 3-2.
The emotions ran high as the Slovak coach Ernest Bokros tried to keep his team calm in the face of a massive victory and his counterpart, Brent Sutter, had to find a way to do the same – calm his team down, in the face of supreme adversity for his teenage charges.
Canada waited until under six minutes to go to tie the game. Mantha banged Erik Cernak off the puck behind the goal and got it out front to Drouin, who snapped it instantly behind Baros to make it 3-3.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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