December 28, 2013, MALMÖ, Sweden (ISN) – Brent Sutter had never lost a game as a coach at the IIHF World Junior Championship. It seems there is a first time for everything.
Canada battled back four times from one-goal deficits only to lose 5-4 in a shootout to the Czechs on Saturday in their second group stage game.
“It’s irrelevant,” said the 51-year-old coach, whose record at three World Junior tournaments, including gold medals in 2005 and 2006, is now 13-0-1. “That has nothing to do with why I’m coaching here.
“It’s about giving these kids an opportunity to succeed.”
It was a game that saw 16-year-old phenom Connor McDavid (Newmarket, Ont./Erie, OHL) benched in the third period after taking two minor penalties that led to Czech goals, then waste a chance to redeem himself by losing the puck on Canada’s final shootout attempt.
And it prompted Sutter to hint strongly that Zachary Fucale (Rosemère, Que./Halifax, QMJHL) will get his first start in goal against Slovakia on Monday after Jake Paterson (Mississauga, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) allowed four goals on 29 shots, and two more in the shootout.
The Czechs, now 1-12-2 against Canada in World Junior play, were heavy underdogs after losing their tournament opener 5-1 to the Americans, but they signalled they were ready by using some hustle to score the first goal through David Kampf only 7:10 in to the game.
The Czechs, however, had trouble holding on to their lead. Sam Reinhart (West Vancouver, B.C./Kootenay, WHL) tied it later in the first. Michal Plutnar put the Czechs ahead, but Jonathan Drouin (Huberdeau, Que./Halifax, QMJHL) equalized. Vojtech Tomecek scored and then Aaron Ekblad (Belle River, Ont./Barrie, OHL) scored short handed. Jakub Vrana scored, but Charles Hudon (Boisbriand, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL) tied it at 13:01 of the third to force a five-minute overtime and the shootout.
Drouin scored on the first shot, but David Pastrnak scored and Dominik Simon won it by beating Paterson with the Peter Forsberg move – a cut to the left and a reach back to tuck the puck in.
“He did a pretty solid move there and unfortunately, I couldn’t stretch out quite enough,” said Paterson. “I wasn’t too sure what these guys’ moves were, but I don’t think you can blame the loss on that. In a shootout, you do the best you can. But the focus now turns to our next game.”
Afterward, the players were told to put it behind them to concentrate on Slovakia, who looked dangerous despite a 6-3 loss to the U.S. earlier Thursday.
“Obviously it’s disappointing, but it’s one game,” added Reinhart. “Our focus is quickly onto the next one. We’ve all been part of international tournaments in the past and it’s all good competition. You go through a lot of adversity.”
The back and forth battle had the mostly Canadian crowd of 3,011 at the Isstadion on the edge of their seats.
The result left Canada second in its group with four points, two behind the Americans and one ahead of the Czechs, with their two toughest games still to play against the Slovaks and Americans.
“Czech played a heck of a game,” said Sutter. “Whoever plays Canada, it’s the biggest game of the tournament. It was a reality check for us. Every period is important because you know the opposition’s always going to have their game at a high level.”