Canada completed its perfect Preliminary Round in Prague, crushing a hapless Austrian squad 10-1, with a pair of goals for both Jason Spezza and Matt Duchene, to clinch Group A and retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Canada, as usual, came out firing on all cylinders early, with Bernhard Starkbaum managing to hold off a potent offense until the sixth minute, when Tyson Barrie completed a tic-tac-toe play for the 1-0 lead. Duchene would notch his first three minutes later, burying a bad-angle backhand rebound over Starkbaum off a wide Spezza rebound. Taylor Hall made things 3-0 three minutes later on a Brent Burns tipped point shot, with Aaron Ekblad ending the first up 4-0 on a drop pass wrister from Jordan Eberle.
Canada, who kept a clean sheet throughout the game, added a pair of tallies in the second, first on a Spezza one-timer from Duchene, followed by a beautiful deke by Eberle, undressing Starkbaum in alone in front, to put the game at 6-0 after two, with shots by then at 27-10. Austrian defender Dominique Heinrich ruined the shutout for Mike Smith early in the third, wiring a wrister from the top of the slot over Smith’s glove to cut the lead to 6-1.
But with the damage pretty much done, Canada continued to pour it on in the third, with Nathan MacKinnon answering just nine seconds later, wiring a strong wrister that trickled past Starkbaum and in. Spezza would add his second of the night just 12 seconds after that, trying to land a 2-on-1 pass to MacKinnon, but the puck instead deflected off D-man Daniel Mitterdorfer and past Starkbaum, resulting in his dismissal from the game. René Swette did not fare much better in relief, conceding a Brayden Schenn wrister three minutes into his start, and giving up a Duchene rebound for his second of the night to put the final score at a pitiful 10-1 for the Eagles.
With the win, Canada wins its fourth straight game in their 60th and current International Hockey Lineal Championship reign, which they won from Sweden, and retained in wins over France and Switzerland. This marks the first meeting between these squads in 12 years, when Canada retained in a 4-1 win at the 2003 Loto Cup, keeping Austria from winning their first IHLC since 1931. Canada, first place in Group A, next faces Belarus in the Qualifying Round, looking to advance for the first time since 2009, with the IHLC in tow.
06:04 – GOAL – Barrie (O’Reilly, Giroux)
09:09 – GOAL – Duchene (Spezza, Muzzin)
11:17 – GOAL – Hall (Burns)
14:10 – GOAL – Ekblad (Eberle)
21:58 – GOAL – Spezza (Duchene, Wiercioch)
28:30 – PEN – Rotter, hooking
35:52 – GOAL – Eberle (Burns)
42:44 – GOAL – Heinrich (Rotter)
42:53 – GOAL – MacKinnon (Muzzin)
43:05 – GOAL – Spezza
46:09 – GOAL – Schenn (Duchene)
47:03 – PEN – Schumnig, hooking
54:43 – GOAL – Duchene (MacKinnon, Spezza)
W: Smith (14-15)
L: Starkbaum (21-29), Swette (15-17)
SHOTS ON GOAL
12+15+19 = 46
5+5+5 = 15
Goaltenders: Martin Jones, Mike Smith. Defence: Tyson Barrie, Brent Burns (A), Aaron Ekblad, Dan Hamhuis (C), Jake Muzzin, David Savard, Patrick Wiercioch. Forwards: Sean Couturier, Matt Duchene, Cody Eakin, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Ennis, Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza (A), Tyler Toffoli.
Goaltenders: Bernhard Starkbaum, René Swette. Defence: Mario Altmann, Dominique Heinrich, Florian Iberer, Daniel Mitterdorfer, Florian Mühlstein, Alexander Pallestrang, Martin Schumnig. Forwards: Alexander Cijan, Mario Fischer, Manuel Geier, Raphael Herburger, Thomas Hundertpfund, Manuel Ganahl, Konstantin Komarek, Manuel Latusa (A), Brian Lebler (A), Nikolas Petrik, Michael Raffl, Thomas Raffl (C), Rafael Rotter.