INCHEON, South Korea – Christian Thomas (Toronto, Ont./Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL) scored the game-winning goal midway through the second period, and Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team finished a perfect pre-tournament schedule with a 4-1 victory over Sweden on Monday.
The Canadians won all three of their match-ups ahead of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, besting Latvia, Belarus and the Swedes by a combined 8-1.
Dick Axelsson was first onto the scoreboard, beating Canadian goaltender Ben Scrivens (Spruce Grove, Alta./Salavat Yulaev Ufa, KHL) at 12:28 of the first period; it marked the first time in pre-tournament play Canada had conceded a goal.
Mat Robinson (Calgary, Alta./CSKA Moscow, KHL) got it back for the Canadians before the horn sounded to end the opening frame, making good on a power play to send the teams to the dressing room tied 1-1.
Canada had the only two goals in a penalty-filled second period; Thomas gave the red-and-white its first lead with an unassisted effort at 7:43 before René Bourque (Lac La Biche, Alta./Djurgårdens IF, SHL) added insurance five minutes later.
Wojtek Wolski (Toronto, Ont./Metallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL) scored the lone goal of the third period to provide the final margin of victory.
Scrivens gave up just the single goal in 40 minutes of work before giving way to Kevin Poulin (Montreal, Que./EHC Kloten, NLA), who was perfect in the third period.
“[We played with] a lot of emotion, we played a playoff-type of game. [It was] physical, and we came out strong in the second period. It’s important in games like these to work on our systems, and to have the opportunity to work on our penalty-kill was huge for us, and we got it done. [Looking ahead to Switzerland], it’s important for us to focus – the calibre of play is only going to get stronger. The Swiss team has a lot of speed, so we’ll have to be ready to go from the moment the puck drops.”
Maxim Lapierre (Brossard, Que./HC Lugano, NLA) on Canada’s intensity and penalties in the final pre-tournament game, as well as what to expect as they open the tournament Thursday
“We did a great job regrouping after that first period – making some adjustments, getting the puck in deep, and forechecking [to create] those turnovers, creating some space. We made things difficult on their power-play – we put them into positions that we wanted them in instead of them dictating the play. We’re going to need the offence spread around – we can’t rely on one or two lines. We did a great job at everyone contributing at some point today.”
Team captain Chris Kelly (Toronto/Belleville, AHL) assessing Canada’s game against Sweden and the improvements in offence over the first two pre-tournament games