Canada 3 Sweden 2
BRECLAV, Czech Republic — Bob Boughner hopes his players are quick learners.
The Canadian coach admitted his team didn’t play its best Tuesday, despite pulling out a 3-2 victory over Sweden in the opener of the under-18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka hockey tournament.
Tyler Seguin of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers broke a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal midway through the third period to pace the defending-champion Canadians, who rallied from a 1-0 first-period deficit.
Canada had little trouble in a pair of pre-tournament games, cruising past the U.S., and Slovakia by a combined score of 13-2. But as Boughner acknowledged after the game, things are more difficult when the games count — and with each team playing four games in five days, there isn’t a lot of time to make adjustments.
“I think there’s still a lot of attention to detail that has to be addressed,” said Boughner. “That’s what you get when you’re with a team like this in a tournament like this.
“But you have to remind yourself that you played a very good hockey team in Sweden, and coming from behind and finding a way to win . . . I think it couldn’t have gone any better in that regard.”
Brandon Gormley of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats and Tyler Toffoli of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s had the other Canadian goals, while Calvin Pickard of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds made 34 saves to preserve the victory.
Gabriel Landeskog and Victor Berglind countered for the Swedes, while Johan Gustafsson turned aside 36 shots in defeat.
The Canadians benefited from Sweden’s undisciplined play, scoring twice in 10 man-advantage chances. Boughner said special teams made the difference.
“Special teams won us the game,” said Boughner. “We were pretty disciplined . . . and any time you can be 20 per cent or higher, I think you’re in good shape.”
After Landeskog opened the scoring six minutes into the first period, Gormley drew Canada even at 5:20 of the second. Toffoli, who added two assists, gave Canada its first lead at 12:31 with Karl Johansson serving an interference penalty.
Berglind tied the game on a power-play 57 seconds into the third period, setting the stage for Seguin’s heroics.
The Canadians face Switzerland on Wednesday before wrapping up round-robin action in Pool A on Thursday against the Czech Republic.
In Pool B play, the Russians opened with a 4-3 win over the U.S., in Piestany, Slovakia. Elsewhere, Slovakia routed Finland 7-2 in Piestany while while the Czechs blanked Switzerland 2-0 in Breclav.