ALMATY, Kazakhstan (U SPORTS) – A third straight win in men’s hockey and a clean sweep in women’s curling highlighted Team Canada’s seventh day of competition at the 28th Winter Universiade.
In other Canadian action on Friday, alpine skier Sandrine David of Montreal was the delegation’s top finisher in the women’s slalom with a 26th position.
In men’s hockey, the Canadian team used four power play goals and timely penalty killing to edge Slovakia 5-3 and finish the preliminary round atop Group B.
The Ontario University Athletics all-stars improved to 3-0 at the biennial tournament and are now off to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face Latvia (2-1) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. local (8:30 a.m. EST). The game will be streamed live on www.livefisu.tv/.
After winning their first two games by a combined score of 20-0 against the United States and Great Britain, the Canadians knew they would face a much tougher challenge versus a big and physical Slovak team. They just didn’t know their pool finale would be this wild.
The affair featured 23 penalties and 21 power plays, with the winners converting four of nine opportunities and their European rivals going 2-of-12. Canada’s fifth goal, while not scored with the man advantage, came six seconds after a Slovak penalty had expired.
Pierre-Olivier Morin of Trois-Rivières, Que., scored twice, including the eventual game-winner late in the second period, while defenceman Martin Lefebvre of Terrebone, Que., rearguard Spencer Abraham of Campbellville, Ont., and Slater Doggett of Oakville, Ont., each found the back of the net once.
Making his second start at the competition, Kevin Bailie of Belleville, Ont., turned aside 23 of 26 shots, including a number of key saves in penalty kill situations. Canada finished with a 35-26 advantage in shots on net.
“Special teams played a huge role obviously,” said Canadian head coach Brett Gibson. “Any time Team Canada has success at this type of tournament, we have to be at the top or near the top in special teams. We’ve been working on it a lot in practice, we’ve really been focusing on it.
“The Slovaks are a great team. They have a lot of players who play professional on that team. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them. They’ll be contending for a medal,” added the Queen’s University bench boss. “We’ve completed the first phase of our journey. It was important for us to win our pool. Now we start the second phase.”
Morin was proud of the way the team responded to adversity.
“We faced a lot of adversity today. It was by far our most intense game so far. Emotions were flying high,” said the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières forward. “Whenever you wear the Team Canada jersey, it gives you an extra jolt of energy. I’m happy I was able to contribute offensively today.”
In women’s curling, Kelsey Rocque and her foursome from the University of Alberta improved to 6-2 thanks to resounding wins against Kazakhstan, 13-2 in six ends, and South Korea, 8-2 in nine. Going into their final match of the preliminary round, the Canadians share first place with Great Britain and Switzerland.
While the result of the morning contest against host Kazakhstan – a country making its first steps in curling – was never in doubt, the lopsided evening victory was impressive as the Koreans were coming in at 4-3 and fighting for a playoff spot.
With the game tied at 1-1, Canada scored a deuce in the fifth end and never looked back, adding two in the eight and three in the ninth after conceding a single in the seventh.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time. We’ve been playing well the last couple of games and that’s a good sign this late in the week,” said the skip from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. “That team was a really good team, we see them on tour a lot. To come away with a win like that against them is pretty big for us.”
“To be honest I was concerned about this game because of the game we had this morning. You sort of get out of your flow and what your systems are,” said coach Garry Coderre. “To be able to come back tonight against a very good team and bring our systems and strategies and tactics all back into play, that was impressive. We’re on the right track heading into the playoffs, there’s no doubt about that.”
In men’s curling, things didn’t turn out as well for Aaron Squires and his crew from Wilfrid Laurier University, who dropped to 3-4 after an 8-2 loss in seven ends to the Czech Republic.
Disaster struck for the Canadians in the sixth end when, trailing only 3-2, they saw their rivals steal four to essentially put away the contest. Going into the last day of round-robin, Team Squires is currently tied for fifth place and desperately needs to win its final two games against South Korea (3-4) and Norway (5-2).
“We won the draw to the button, which hasn’t happen often this week, forcing us to play from behind in a lot of our games. Unfortunately, we were in a position to score two, even three in the first end, and we ended up getting only one. Even in the sixth, we were in a position to score. It’s just the way it’s gone all week for us. But we’re still in it. We had a good team meeting after the game and we’re staying positive. The standings are so close, we win two tomorrow, we could end up in a tie-breaker.”
In alpine skiing, David was 29th after the first run of the giant slalom after crossing the finish line in 1:22.06 but posted the 20th best time in the second run – 1:12.71 – to climb up three spots in the final standings.
Adrienne Poitras of Montreal was 29th in 2:35.90, with Frédérique Nolin of Quebec City following closely in 33rd (2:38.94). Hannah Schmidt of Dunrobin, Ont., did not finish.
In biathlon, all four Canadian athletes participating in the pursuit events were lapped, including Jessica Paterson of St. Albert, Alta., in the women’s 7.5-kilometre race and Seamus Boyd-Porter, Sasha Eccleston of Hinton, Alta., and Reagan Mills of Truro, N.S., in the men’s 10 km.
In women’s hockey, Canada (3-0) gets back on the ice on Saturday after a two-day hiatus and faces the United States (1-1) in semifinal action at 4:30 p.m. local (5:30 a.m. EST). The contest will be streamed live on www.livefisu.tv/.
RESULTS FROM FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3
Women’s Giant Slalom
1. Asa Ando, Japan, 2:25.68; 2. Desiree Ajlec, Slovenia, 2:26.81; Maria Shkanova, Belarus, 2:27.28; 26. Sandrine David, Montreal, Que., 2:34.77; 29. Adrienne Poitras, Montreal, Que., 2:35.90; 33. Frédérique Nolin, Quebec City, Que., 2:38.94; DNF Hannah Schmidt, Dunrobin, Ont.
Women’s 7.5 km Pursuit
1. Nadiia Bielkina, Ukraine, 32:39.6; 2. Olga Shesterikova, Russia, 33:00.7; 3. Larisa Kuklina, Russia, 33:08.3; Jessica Paterson, St. Albert, Alta., lapped.
Men’s 10 km Pursuit
1. Sergey Korastylev, Russia, 32:08.3; 2. Dmitrii Ivanov, Russia, 32:19.2; 3. Semen Suchilov, Russia, 32:26.9; Seamus Boyd-Porter, St. John’s, Nfld., lapped; Sasha Eccleston, Hinton, Alta., lapped; Reagan Mills, Truro, N.S., lapped.
Women’s Preliminary Round (9 matches)
CAN 3 1 0 6 1 2 x x x x – 13
KAZ 0 0 2 0 0 0 x x x x – 2
CAN 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 2 3 x – 8
KOR 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 x – 2
Canada (6-2) faces Norway (1-7) on Saturday to complete the preliminary round.
Men’s Preliminary Round (9 matches)
CZE 0 2 0 0 1 4 1 x x x – 8
CAN 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 x x x – 2
Canada (3-4) faces South Korea (3-4) and Norway (5-2) on Saturday to complete the preliminary round.
Canada (3-0) wins 5-3 vs. Czech Republic (2-1), finishes first in Group B, will face Latvia (2-1) on Saturday, February 4 at 8:30 a.m. EST (7:30 p.m. local) in the quarterfinals.