Trailing 2-0 early and 3-1 midway through the second, Team Canada rallied back with five unanswered goals Friday morning, halting the pesky Slovaks with a 6-3 win at the Ufa Arena. Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart recorded an assist and a +1 rating in the victory.
JC Lipon (hit to the head) and Anthony Camara (charging) could both face supplementary discipline for hits to Slovakia’s Tomas Mikus and Patrik Luza. If so and suspensions are handed out, and having already lost hard-hitting Boone Jenner to a three-game suspension, Canada could be down to as few as 10 forwards for Sunday’s game (2:30AM MT) against the United States.
Described by TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie as a period in which, “one team came ready to play, the other didn’t,” Marko Dano put Slovakia up 1-0, 2:53 in as he out-battled Brett Ritchie in front and cashed on a loose puck in the crease.
Canada’s road to victory didn’t get any easier as the period progressed.
10 minutes later, Kamloops Blazers right-winger JC Lipon connected with what was deemed to be a hit to head of Tomas Mikus. As a result, Lipon received a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for the hit, sending the Slovaks to an extended power-play. Mikus looked no worse for wear as he returned to the ice moments later, sniping a shot up and over Subban’s left shoulder to make it a 2-0 game.
Until this morning, Canada had never lost or even trailed to Slovakia in World Junior history.
Heading into the middle frame facing a 2-0 deficit and 11-5 shortfall on the shot clock, Canada needed a spark. They got it at 2:16, courtesy of Ryan Strome — the 19-year-old walked the blue line and spotted an open lane down main street; slaloming into the slot, he rifled a missile over Slovak netminder Adam Nagy to get the red and white on the board.
Just a few minutes later, Strome helped orchestrate some offensive magic once more, but his dish to a wide-open Jonathan Drouin was nullified by a crease violation to Ritchie.
With 13:49 to play, Canada continued to press in search of the equalizer as Ty Rattie stole the puck in the neutral zone and raced in on a partial break. Rattie got a quick shot away, but Nagy got a piece of it and sent it up and out of play.
Moments later, another scary moment halted play and put Canada in another shorthanded hole. 18-year-old Anthony Camara dished out a devasting hit on Patrik Luza; bleeding from the mouth and nose, a stretcher was required as Luza’s head pelted the ice surface after connecting with Camara’s shoulder.
Strome was charged with tripping shortly thereafter, putting the Slovaks on a 1:32-long 5-on-3. Making no mistake in cashing his second of the game, Dano one-timed an Emil Bagin pass through Subban to restore his club’s two-goal advantage.
Penalties to Dano (slashing) and Richard Buri (interference) gave the Canadians a 5-on-3 of their own moments later. Working the open ice, Morgan Rielly blasted a 60-foot slap shot past Nagy to bring the Canadians within one.
2:36 later, again on the power-play as Martin Reway was charged with a retaliatory cross-checking minor, Ty Rattie netted the equalizer.
With 59 seconds to play in the period, Xavier Ouelett’s point shot was redirected home by Mark Scheifele, putting Canada up 4-3 at the intermission. Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart picked up an assist on the play.
Early in the third, Edmonton Oilers/Oklahoma City Barons star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins did some nifty work down low, going left to right at the lip of the crease before depositing the puck on his forehand. The goal was Nugent-Hopkins’ second goal and sixth point of the 2013 World Junior Championship.
With 12:56 to play as the clock struck 4:30AM MT, Strome burst up the middle, deked to his backhand and slid Canada’s sixth goal past a helpless Nagy. The Slovak netminder ended the night with 24 saves on 30 shots.
At the other end, Subban had an answer for 25 of Slovakia’s 28 attempts.
IN OTHER ACTION: Earlier in the evening/morning, Oil Kings defenceman David Musil and the Czech Republic were in action vs. Finland. Musil recorded three shots on goal and a +1 rating in a 3-1 win.
NEXT UP: Edgars Kulda and Team Latvia get back in action on Saturday (5:00AM MT). Kulda then goes head-to-head with Musil and the Czech Republic the very next day (5:00AM MT). Griffin Reinhart and Team Canada aren’t in action until Sunday vs. the Americans (2:30AM MT).
— Ryan Dittrick, Edmonton Oil Kings | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick