Canada opened their 2012 World Championship with an important win over a strong Slovakian side, winning 3-2 on goals from Jamie Benn, Jordan Eberle and Andrew Ladd to retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Canada picked up the only goal of the first period on a cross-ice feed from Ryan Getzlaf to Benn, who faked out Slovakian goalie Peter Hamerlík, going backhand to forehand to slide the puck past Hamerlík’s sprawled pad to go ahead 1-0. Tomáš Tatar got Slovakia’s equalizer 1:58 into the second, snapping a Canadian defensive giveaway past Cam Ward to even the score. Canada then picked up two quick strikes in a 2:51 span, on a bad angle goal from Eberle and a Ladd one-timer to suddenly regain the lead. After forty minutes, Canada outshot Slovakia 19-10, but only led 3-1.
That score would be cut in half early in the third, similar to the second, on a Milan Bartovič point shot that was screened by Marcel Haščák to snap past Ward to make the score 3-2. But, while Slovakia did manage 11 shots in the third, they were unable to penetrate the strong Team Canada defence, and while a number of shots on Hamerlík did end up being saved by the posts, Canada still held on for the opening game victory.
With the win, Canada retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship it won from Switzerland five days prior to the start of the World Championships in an exhibition game, winning its third straight game in their 57th IHLC reign. Canada and Slovakia last met over the IHLC at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where Canada won 3-2 to advance to the Gold Medal Game. Canada will next face border rivals the United States with the IHLC on the line.
14:21 – GOAL – Benn (Getzlaf, Keith)
21:58 – GOAL – Tatar (Mikúš)
28:52 – PEN – Šatan, holding
32:30 – GOAL – Eberle (Kane)
35:21 – GOAL – Ladd (O’Reilly, Purcell)
39:15 – PEN – Vydarený, holding
42:59 – GOAL – Bartovič (Bližňák, Haščák)
51:05 – PEN – Perry, tripping
W: Ward (19-21)
L: Hamerlík (27-30)
SHOTS ON GOAL
9+10+11 = 30
5+5+11 = 22
Goaltenders: Devan Dubnyk, Cam Ward. Defence: Jay Bouwmeester, Duncan Keith, Ryan Murray, Dion Phaneuf (A), Luke Schenn, Marc-Édouard Vlasic. Forwards: Jamie Benn, Alex Burrows, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Getzlaf (C), Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan O’Reilly, Corey Perry, Teddy Purcell, Patrick Sharp (A), Jeff Skinner, John Tavares.
Goaltenders: Peter Hamerlík, Ján Laco. Defence: Ivan Baranka, Zdeno Chára (C), Dominik Graňák (A), Kristián Kudroč, Andrej Sekera, Michal Sersen, Tomáš Starosta, René Vydarený. Forwards: Milan Bartovič, Mário Bližňák, Marcel Haščák, Marcel Hossa, Libor Hudáček, Tomáš Kopecký, Michel Miklik, Juraj Mikúš, Branko Radivojevič, Miroslav Šatan (A), Tomáš Surový, Tomáš Tatar.