Feb. 8, 2017
ALMATY, Kazakhstan (U SPORTS) – Team Canada extended its remarkable success streak in Universiade men’s hockey on Wednesday, capturing its 15th medal in 16 FISU tournament appearances thanks to a thrilling 4-3 bronze-medal win over the Czech Republic at Halyk Arena.
Team Canada website: http://en.usports.ca/universiade/winter/2017/
Almaty 2017 website: https://almaty2017.com
Live streaming: www.livefisu.tv/
Results, Statistics & Standings: http://www.fisu.net/results/winter-universiade/winter-universiade-2017-main-results
Since its first appearance at the biennial competition in 1968, Canada has racked up four FISU titles, a trio of silver medals and eight third-place finishes.
Less than 24 hours after a heartbreaking 4-1 loss to Russia in the semifinal round, the Ontario University Athletics all-stars (5-1) rebounded with a gutsy effort to edge a talented Czech team (3-3) that dropped a 4-1 decision to host Kazakhstan on Tuesday night.
The Russia-Kazakhstan final is set for 3 p.m. local (4 a.m. EST) on Wednesday.
“The message I had for the guys before the game was there’s no way we were going home without a medal. That’s a lot of pressure,” said Canadian head coach Brett Gibson from Queen’s University. “These guys, what they’ve done for me and our coaching staff these past two weeks... I’ll never forget it. I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life.
“There sure were some tired legs out there at the end. It’s just amazing what the guys accomplished. In tournament hockey it’s a quick turnaround between games. They dug deep and the Canadian pride came out there at the end.”
Team captain Olivier Hinse was equally proud of the way the team responded after Tuesday’s disappointing loss.
“We worked so hard to get that medal. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t play for gold but the guys came back strong,” said the Concordia University forward from Sherbrooke, Que. “It was a great game. We played within our system, we played the Canadian way. There was no way they could beat us today. We went all out. Hats off to all of our guys, they played so hard. We all stick together, we’re a brotherhood, and that’s why we got the bronze medal today.”
Following the loss to Russia, Gibson decided to reunite teammates from the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières and from Carleton University on two lines, and the move paid off.
The UQTR trio of Pierre-Olivier Morin (1-2-3), Tommy Giroux (2-0-2) and Guillaume Asselin (0-1-1) produced three goals and six points, while Brett Welychka had the other Canadian marker assisted by his Carleton teammates Michael McNamee and Ryan Van Stralen. McNamee also added a second helper for a two-point afternoon.
“We did that on purpose,” said Gibson. “After the loss last night we had to juggle some things. These guys have chemistry together and we wanted them to have some fun with it. They were excited to play for Canada together.”
Giroux and Morin – with his team-leading sixth goal in six games - scored in the first 3:28 of the contest to give Canada a quick 2-0 lead. Giroux would add the eventual game-winner 3:41 into the middle frame.
“It’s important for me to score big goals in big moments. It’s my role to score goals and to produce offensively. But we also saw a lot of players sacrifice themselves and block shots at the end of the game. It’s just as important as scoring goals in this kind of game,” said Giroux, who finished the tournament with three goals and seven points. “Gibby came to see us before the game. He showed us the starting lineup and he said ‘does this look familiar?’ It was good, maybe we needed a little change and everyone was happy with that. I think it paid off today.”
Gibson made another important move midway through the bronze game when he pulled starting goaltender Kevin Bailie – who plays for him at Queen’s - after the Czechs made it 4-3 at 8:52 of the second period. Backup Sébastien Auger from UQTR was perfect on 16 shots the rest of the way.
“Sébastien is a pro. He’s a winner,” said Gibson. “I told him to stay ready the whole tournament. He didn’t pout. He just came in today and probably won the game for us.”
“I didn’t expect to go in. Throughout the tournament, I kept myself ready. It was my job to come in for Kevin if needed. I prepared myself like I was going to play every game and when they called my number, I was ready,” said Auger, whose only previous action in Almaty was a complete-game shutout against Great Britain on Feb. 1. “Of course there are some nerves when you jump into a bronze medal with the score 4-3. But I got an easy shot right away and it put me in the game quickly. That’s why we play hockey, for games like this one. I like pressure, and today we got our money’s worth.”
Canada led 3-1 after 20 minutes and 4-3 after two periods, before hanging on for dear life in the third. The Czech Republic finished with a 34-30 edge in shots on goal, including an 11-4 advantage in the final stanza.
The ice was barely dry when Giroux opened the scoring 77 seconds in. The Quebec City native took a perfect pass from Morin on the right side of the net before beating goalie Jaroslav Brazdil on the blocker side.
Just over two minutes later, at 3:28, Morin spun around in the crease and put in a rebound during a power play. It would be Canada’s lone goal in five opportunities with the man advantage, while its opponents went 0-for-3.
The Czechs cut the deficit in half at 8:33 when Dominik Kafka tipped a point shot right in front of Bailey, who had no chance on the play.
The celebrations were short-lived for the Europeans as Canada responded less than one minute later, courtesy of an all-Carleton goal. Welychka scored his fifth of the tournament into an open cage at 9:14 after taking a feed from behind the net from McNamee. Van Stralen collected the second assist.
The scenario repeated itself early in the second period as the Czech Republic once again made it a one-goal affair at 2:43, only to see the Canadians answer 58 seconds later.
David Ballner made it 3-2 thanks to a quick wrist shot to Bailie’s blocker side, while Giroux responded with the game-winner on a three-way passing play with UQTR teammates Morin and Asselin.
The Czechs got a lucky bounce at 8:52 of the second to come to within one for the third time. After Bailie mishandled a long dump-in from the red line, David Zachar beat two defencemen to the puck and flipped it past Bailie, pushing Gibson to make a goalie change.
Auger was tested quickly and made a huge stick save on a Jakub Kadlec breakaway five minutes after coming into the game.
The Czech Republic had another glorious chance in the dying seconds of the period when the puck was loose near the goal line following a mad scramble in front of the Canadian net, but McGill rearguard Étienne Boutet saved the day for the red and white.
Auger had to make a number of key stops in the third as the Czechs were desperately looking for the equalizer, including back-to-back incredible pad saves four minutes in.
Canada was caught with too many men on the ice with 7:18 remaining but managed to weather the ensuing Czech storms.
The OUA all-stars thought they had put the game away in the final minute but had an empty-net goal disallowed when the linesman made a close offside call.
In the end, the call didn’t hurt the Canadians, who froze the puck along the board in their own zone in the final seconds to seal the victory.
NOTES: Since 1997, Canada has been represented at the biennial Universiade men’s hockey tournament by each of the three U SPORTS conferences on a rotating basis... Canada has now won 15 medals in 16 appearances at the competition (4-3-8), including gold in 2013 (AUS all-stars), 2007 (AUS all-stars), 1991 (Canadian national team) and 1981 (University of Alberta)... In three previous appearances, OUA skaters had won bronze in 1999 (Poprad-Tatry, Slovakia) and 2011 (Erzurum, Turkey) and finished fifth in 2005 (Innsbruck, Austria).
TEAM CANADA SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times local / 11 hours ahead of ET)
Group standings: STANDINGS
Monday, Jan. 30 (19:30): Canada 6, USA 0
Wednesday, Feb. 1 (16:00): Canada 14, Great Britain 0
Friday, Feb. 3 (12:30): Canada 5, Slovakia 3
Saturday, Feb. 4 (19:30): Canada 5, Latvia 2 (quarter-final)
Tuesday. Feb. 7 (16:00): Russia 4, Canada 1 (semifinal)
Wednesday, Feb. 8 (11:00): Canada 4, Czech Republic 3 (bronze)
SCORING SUMMARY (official boxscore: CLICK HERE)
Canada 4, Czech Republic 3
1. CAN Tommy Giroux (2) (Pierre-Olivier Morin), 1:17
2. CAN Pierre-Olivier Morin (6) (Michael McNamee, Martin Lefebvre), 3:28 PP
3. CZE Dominik Kafka (3) (Michal Gutwald, Tomas Stastny), 8:33
4. CAN Brett Welychka (5) (Michael McNamee, Ryan Van Stralen), 9:14
David Ballner (CZE) tripping, 2:55
Corey Durocher (CAN) interference, 10:22
Michal Gutwald (CZE) roughing, 13:16
Filip Svaricek (CZE) slashing, 17:54
5. CZE David Ballner (3) (Filip Svaricek), 2:43
6. CAN Tommy Giroux (3) (Guillaume Asselin, Pierre-Olivier Morin), 3:41
7. CZE David Zachar (3) (Marek Bail), 8:52
Team (CZE) too many men (served by Jakub Kadlec), 13:14
Guillaume Asselin (CAN) hooking, 15:21
Michal Gutwald (CZE) hooking, 16:39
Team (CAN) too many men (served by Eric Ming), 12:42
GOALS (by period)
CAN: 3-1-0: 4
CZE: 1-2-0: 3
SHOTS ON GOAL (by period)
CAN: 14-12-4: 30
CZE: 9-14-11: 34
CAN – Kevin Bailie (W, 3-1, 18 shots, 15 saves, 28:52)
CAN – Sébastien Auger (16 shots, 16 saves, 31:08)
CZE – Jaroslav Brazdil (L, 2-1, 30 shots, 26 saves, 58:46)
CZE – Empty net (1:14)
REFEREES: Back Holm (SWE), Vladimir Snasel (SVK)
LINESMEN: Patrick Richardson (USA), Nikita Viliugin (RUS)