Stone’s heroics give Canada a thrilling victory over Slovakia

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Mark Stone made it a birthday to remember by scoring a power-play goal with 1.8 seconds left in the third period to lift Canada to a back-and-forth 6-5 win over Slovakia. © Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images

Mark Stone scored on the power play with only 1.8 seconds remaining in regulation time to give Canada a 6-5 win against Slovakia in a thrilling game from start to finish.

Canada trailed 2-0 and 4-2, but the Slovaks rallied in the third from 5-4 down to tie the game and seemingly force overtime.

But Erik Cernak took a tripping penalty at 18:46, and as time wound down Stone ripped a high shot over the glove of Marek Ciliak for the win. The penalty call and subsequent goal enraged the raucous crowd, but the Slovkas had a late power play of their own and couldn’t convert.

Canada had goals from six different players while Matus Sukel had two for Slovakia.

The win gives Canada six points in Group A, tied with Germany and behind only Finland, while Slovakia remains in fifth place with three points.

Slovakia now has a day off before playing Germany on Wednesday while the Canadians enjoy a two-day hiatus before facing France on Thursday.

“It was an unbelievable atmosphere, obviously hostile, playing the host team,” said Troy Stecher, one of Canada’s goalscorers. “It went back and forth, could have gone either way, and we’re very fortunate to get the win in regulation.”

“We’re obviously not happy with how it ended, but I could not be prouder of the team, the players,” said Canadian-born Slovak coach Craig Ramsay.” How they responded to this type of atmosphere and some adverse things that happened. In the third period we refused to quit. We were outplaying them. We got the tying goal, and we were generating chances to get another. We showed heart, courage, and commitment, and if we keep playing like that, we can play with anybody.”

Emotions ran high inside Steel Arena tonight. The hosts, supported full throttle by a sold-out crowd, skated toe to toe with Canada in a game that featured goals galore, big hits, and plenty of energy.

The first period was high octane hockey, provided first by Slovakia and later by Canada. The former scored two goals 64 seconds apart on similar plays, with goalie Matt Murray flat on his belly and out of the play.

In the first instance, a wild scramble saw Murray try to cover the puck, only to have the Slovaks push it free. It wound up in the crease, with Murray out of it, and Matus Sukel nudged it over the line at 7:14.

Soon after, Murray tried to slide out to cut off a pass form Christian Jaros to Adam Liska, but he didn’t get all of the puck and it squirted in behind him as he was on his stomach again, and Liska also had merely to shove the puck over the goal line.

The crowd erupted in glee, exhorting the home side to score a third goal, but Canada, if nothing else, has poise, patience, and experience. Slowly but surely they worked themselves back into the game, and eventually were rewarded with two late and quick goals of their own.

They cut the Slovak lead in half at 16:20 when captain Kyle Turris made a great backhand pass through the slot to Anthony Mantha, and his one-timer beat Patrik Rybar before the goalie could come across.

Less than two minutes later, Canada tied the game on a power play. Shea Theodore’s long shot fooled Rybar between his glove and body, a shot he should have had.

Just like that the extraordinary noise inside the arena turned to silence. The period was also marked by several pushing and shoving matches after whistles, players clearly on edge for the atmosphere created by the fans and the importance of the game.

The second period was a replica of the first—with a twist added by Canada at the end. Slovakia got two early goals, the first coming just 1:49 in, on a nice tip in front by Marko Dano.

Three minutes later, they made it 4-2 when Murray couldn’t control a shot by David Buc. Liska was there to bat the puck out of the air and in, and again the ohme side had a two-goal lead.

But if they’ve done it once, they can do it again, and they did. Canada came right back to make it 4-3 on a power play, Jonathan Marchessault wiring a screen shot that Rybar couldn’t do much about.

Two minutes later, Anthony Cirelli tied the game again, getting to a rebound before he was checked.

It looked as though the Slovaks scored again to take another lead, but video review showed goalie interference, so much to the displeasure of the Slovak fans, it remained a 4-4 game.

Late in the period, though, Stecher wafted a shot on goal from a bad angle, and it bounced in off the leg of Rybar. Coach Craig Ramsay was none too happy, pulling the goalie in favour of Marek Ciliak.

“I wasn’t really shooting for a spot,” Stecher noted. “I was just trying to put it on net and create a rebound or second opportunity and it went in. Good things happen when you put pucks to the net and put bodies there.”

Canada came out to start the third and promptly decided to sit on the lead, falling back and not being aggressive in the Slovkaia end of the ice. Not surprisingly, the Slovkas slwoly but surely took over, rying the game at 11:45 when a Sukel shot bounced off Ladislav Nagy and in.

Slovakia was in control the rest of the way until the late penalty, and Mantha took a minor that left Canada hanging on before Stone’s heroics.

“We’re disappointed right now, but we weren’t the favourites in this game,” noted Slovak captain Andrej Sekera. “We were trying to steal some points and we almost got them, but for us, the most important games are against Germany and the other teams after that.”

The crowd erupted in glee, exhorting the home side to score a third goal, but Canada, if nothing else, has poise, patience, and experience. Slowly but surely they worked themselves back into the game, and eventually were rewarded with two late and quick goals of their own.

They cut the Slovak lead in half at 16:20 when captain Kyle Turris made a great backhand pass through the slot to Anthony Mantha, and his one-timer beat Patrik Rybar before the goalie could come across.

Less than two minutes later, Canada tied the game on a power play. Shea Theodore’s long shot fooled Rybar between his glove and body, a shot he should have had.

Just like that the extraordinary noise inside the arena turned to silence. The period was also marked by several pushing and shoving matches after whistles, players clearly on edge for the atmosphere created by the fans and the importance of the game.

The second period was a replica of the first—with a twist added by Canada at the end. Slovakia got two early goals, the first coming just 1:49 in, on a nice tip in front by Marko Dano.

Three minutes later, they made it 4-2 when Murray couldn’t control a shot by David Buc. Liska was there to bat the puck out of the air and in, and back was the two-goal lead.

But if they’ve done it once, they can do it again, and they did. Canada came right back to make it 4-3 on a power play, Jonathan Marchessault wiring a screen shot that Rybar couldn’t do much about.

Two minutes later, Anthony Cirelli tied the game again, getting to a rebound before he was checked.

It looked as though the Slovaks scored again to take another lead, but video review showed goalie interference, so much to the displeasure of the Slovak fans, it remained a 4-4 game.

Late in the period, though, Troy Stecher wafted a shot on goal from a bad angle, and it bounced in off the leg of Rybar. Coach Craig Ramsay was none too happy, pulling the goalie in favour of Marek Ciliak.

Canada came out to start the third and promptly decided to sit on the lead, falling back and not being aggressive in the Slovkaia end of the ice. Not surprisingly, the Slovkas slwoly but surely took over, tying the game at 11:45 when a Sukel shot bounced off Ladislav Nagy and in.

Slovakia was in control the rest of the way until the late penalty, and Mantha took a minor that left Canada hanging on before Stone’s heroics.

Next game:

Canada vs. France – Thursday, May 16 at 10:15 a.m. ET/7:15 a.m. PT

 

TSN and RDS, Hockey Canada’s official broadcast partners, will carry 64 and 29 games, respectively; check local listings for details.

 

Quotes:

 

“We came back twice from two-goal deficits, three of their goals go off our players. We just kept plugging away and kept playing, and we were able to score a big goal on the power play at the end with a couple seconds left. We found a way to win, we felt that this game was important for us because we knew it was going to be a really hostile environment. There was a lot of emotion from both teams on the ice, but at the end of the day we found a way to win and that’s what this game is all about.”

– Head coach Alain Vigneault (Quebec City, Que./Philadelphia, NHL) shares his thoughts on Canada’s second win

 

“Any time you play against the host team it is going to be a little bit hostile, especially with passionate fans like the Slovakians. They’re playing good hockey, so it was a big win and a big effort from us.

 

“You watch [Slovakia] play against Finland and they came out hard. Against the Americans, they were fast starters. We just had to keep playing our game, we know we have a good team and we are going to get our chances. We just needed to make sure we capitalized on them.”

– Stone on playing the tournament hosts and capitalizing on scoring opportunities

 

“Obviously I want to be a big piece of this team. I want to play the same way I finished the season in Detroit. I’m building some chemistry offensively with [Kyle] Turris and [Jared] McCann, so we need to keep that going and help the team win.”

– Mantha on his early success and chemistry with his line