The Czech Republic went into their Tuesday night encounter against Canada with an opportunity to clinch a spot in the semifinals, while simultaneously ending the Canadians' medal hopes. By the end of the game, the fortunes of both teams had reversed dramatically.
Canada rebounded from a dismal opening game against Sweden, outshooting the Czechs 43-14 and outscoring them 6-1. Goaltender Marek Langhamer, who was the Czech player of the game, kept the Canadians off the scoresheet for one period, but the floodgates opened in the second.
After Morgan Reilly and Pavel Sedláček traded goals early in the second, the Canadians scored three times in a 2:09 span in the middle of the period to take control of the game. The crowd of 2,023 in Břeclav had been enthusiastic up until then, but showed not much life after the game's midpoint, much like the Czech team.
“It was the response we wanted,” said Canadian captain Mathew Dumba, who picked up a goal and an assist. “We talked last night that we’ve got to come together as a team and we got away from that a little bit yesterday. Today we played a gritty, hard game and it paid off.”
With the loss, the Czechs now need to beat the Swedes and get help to advance. Coach Jiří Veber emphasized the need to come out with a good effort. "After the game against Canada, we had a short speech to the players. The game is over, learn from it, but otherwise turn the page and get ready for the next opponent. I think we need to go into the game with the Swedes with a clear head, and that some of the players realize what is needed for success."
The Swedes go into Wednesday's game all but assured a spot in the semis after their 4-3 victory over Switzerland. Sweden sits atop Group A with 6 points, followed by the Czechs and Canada with 3 each, while Switzerland remains pointless. By virtue of Tuesday's win, Canada holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Czechs, meaning that the Czechs need to earn more points than Canada on Wednesday.
The highlight game in Piešťany was between two medal contenders: USA and Russia. After dropping their opener against Finland, the game was critically important for the Americans, whose semifinal hopes would have disappeared with a loss. They won 5-4 in overtime to claim 2 points, but they could have had 3.
Down 3-1 with 13 minutes to play, the Russians struck twice in a span of 1:39 to tie the score. The Americans regained the lead when Cristoval Nieves scored with 4:46 left in regulation time, but Timur Shingaryeyev tied it for Russia with 1:44 to play. Vincent Hinostroza, with his second goal of the game, salvaged the tournament for the Americans by scoring in overtime, but they’ll still need to win their last game against Slovakia and hope Finland beats Russia.
That’s because Finland is clear to the semifinals. After opening with a 6-3 victory over the US, the Finns pounded Slovakia 10-2 on Tuesday to improve to 2-0. Teuvo Teräväinen scored 2 goals and 3 assists to increase his two-game total to 8 points, which leads all tournament scorers. In Group B, Finland leads with 6 points, followed by Russia with 4, USA with 2, and Slovakia is pointless.
All games of the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament can be followed live at eurolivescores.com.