JASON LA ROSE
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Brett Howden (Oakbank, Man./Moose Jaw, WHL) had two goals in his tournament debut, helping Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team to a 3-1 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday night at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship.
Howden, whose Moose Jaw Warriors were eliminated Friday night in the WHL playoffs, made the four-hour drive from Brandon, Man., to Grand Forks with his mother on Saturday morning.
He and defenceman Connor Hall (Cambridge, Ont./Kitchener, OHL) played their first games after being added to the Canadian roster earlier in the day.
David Quenneville (Edmonton, Alta./Medicine Hat, WHL) scored the game-winner for the Canadians, who made it two wins in 24 hours after a 10-2 tournament-opening victory over Denmark on Friday.
Canada had the edge in shots on goal in the first period, 12-7, but it took until the 17:41 mark for Howden to bury a cross-ice feed from Dante Fabbro (Coquitlam, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) for a 1-0 lead.
Quenneville doubled the advantage just 1:11 later on a Canadian power play, faking out a sliding Czech defender before snapping a wrist shot past goaltender Josef Korenar to make it 2-0.
The second period belonged to Canadian netminder Evan Fitzpatrick (Lower Sackville, N.S./Sherbrooke, QMJHL), who stopped each and every one of the 22 Czech shots in the middle frame, while his team was able to direct just nine at Korenar.
But Howden made one of those nine count, driving to the net and knocking in the rebound of a Mason Shaw (Wainwright, Alta./Medicine Hat, WHL) shot just past the five-minute mark of the period.
The Czechs finally beat Fitzpatrick when Filip Zadina converted on the power play at 2:35 of the third, but that would be the only puck to elude the Canadian goaltender.
Fitzpatrick finished with 38 saves; the Czechs outshot Canada 39-28.
Canada is off Sunday before resuming its preliminary round schedule Monday night against Slovakia; puck drop at Ralph Engelstad Arena is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT.
April 18 (8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT) – Canada vs. Slovakia, Ralph Engelstad Arena, Grand Forks, N.D. All Team Canada games are being broadcast on TSN and RDS.
“It was a pretty crazy last 24 hours and I wasn’t really expecting that as I was trying to make it far in the playoffs with my team back in Moose Jaw. We made it to the second round and as soon as our last game ended it was pretty emotional, but then it was a quick bounce back. It’s kind of bittersweet but getting the call to come here and the first game it was pretty easy to get thrown in to. You’re playing with a bunch of great guys; they made it feel like home for me right off the bat so it’s pretty easy to jump in with them.”
–Brett Howden (Oakbank, Man./Moose Jaw, WHL) on his whirlwind 24 hours from the WHL to joining Canada’s National Under-18 Team
“They were a lot more consistent, they really battled hard and worked hard. Tonight they really surprised us a lot, and kudos to them, they played very, very well and we were fortunate enough to come out with the win.”
–Evan Fitzpatrick (Lower Sackville, N.S./Sherbrooke, QMJHL) on facing the Czech team a week after playing them in an exhibition game
“I thought our opponent played great tonight. I thought our goaltender in general was the difference. He (Fitzpatrick) made some huge saves, especially in the second and third periods when they were putting a lot of pressure on us.”
–Shaun Clouston, head coach, Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team