Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Canada ends Sparta's run at Spengler Cup

In fine Don Cherry fashion, a costly too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty was the undoing of Sparta Praha at the 2010 Spengler Cup. Tied 3-3, the Czech club was whistled for having too many players on the ice in overtime in their quarter-final match-up against Canada. On the ensuing power-play, Mickey Dupont's blast from the point beat Tomáš Pöpperle to send Canada into the semi-finals and send Sparta home.

Sparta did well to force overtime in the first place. They trailed by scores of 2-0 and 3-1 in the second period, but goals by Emmanuel Peter cut the deficit to one each time. Peter, a fifth-round draft pick by the Calgary Flames in 2002, is now in his tenth year in the Swiss A League, where he currently plays for EHC Biel and was picked up by Sparta for this tournament. Late in the second, team captain David Vyborný tied the score on a power-play, and the game went to overtime following a scoreless third period.

Sparta won the Spengler Cup back-to-back years in 1962 and 1963. More recently, they reached the tournament final in 2004. They were trying to become the first Czech team to win it since Dukla Jihlava did so in 1982.

Canada has participated in the Spengler Cup every year since 1984. Since the disbanding of its standing national team in the late nineties, a team comprised of Canadians playing in various European leagues has been assembled to compete in the tournament. This year's Canadian squad, coached by Mark Messier, now advances to play in the semi-finals on Thursday against host HC Davos. In the other semi-final, SKA St. Petersburg takes on Genf-Sevette HC.

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