Canada holds on to beat Czech Republic

Team Canada makes most of major penalty, holds on to beat Czech Republic

By Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

MINSK, Belarus – Canadian captain Kevin Bieksa paid the price in the form of a chipped tooth and stitches on the inside of his mouth.

After Canada held on to beat the Czech Republic 4-3 on Monday at the world hockey championship, it was worth it.

Bieksa took Jan Kovar’s stick to the mouth, a penalty that gave Canada a five-minute man advantage it scored twice on. When the Czechs scored twice in the third period to make things interesting, those power-play goals loomed large.

“If you look at it, it’s the difference in the game,” coach Dave Tippett said.

Canada’s power play was 1-for-11 in the tournament before Nathan MacKinnon and Morgan Rielly scored 17 seconds apart to build a three-goal lead. Even though Jiri Novotny and Tomas Hertl cut the advantage to one late, it was enough of a cushion to allow Canada to survive for a second straight victory.

Still flush in his face from stopping 31 shots, goaltender James Reimer joked he and his teammates just wanted to keep it close and entertain the fans at Chizhovka-Arena. But he expected the Czechs to make a push.

“They’re a good team,” Reimer said, pausing to catch his breath. “And obviously they’re playing desperate. … You know they weren’t going to roll over, you knew they were going to come hard.”

That was thanks in part to what Tippett called “unforced errors” by his players.

“They’re going to get their pressure just because they’re good players, but then adding fuel to the fire, that’s when you’re really in trouble,” Tippett said. “There was two or three times in that third period where we had a good chance to clear it, make a good, solid, simple play and we forced pucks that got turned over and then it comes right back at you.”

Even though it got nerve-wracking late, Canada had some breathing room. Goals by Joel Ward — his third of the tournament — and assistant captain Kyle Turris helped the Canadians rebound from giving up the first goal for a third straight game before the power play finally clicked.

That wasn’t just a coincidence. Tippett made some personnel switches on the power-play units, putting Alex Burrows, Ward and Turris on the ice to see what would change.

“Less skill and more work,” he said.

Work behind the net put Bieksa in position to draw the game-altering slashing penalty 15:01 into the second period on Kovar, who got an automatic game misconduct. Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicka was surprised it was called slashing and not high-sticking after checking it out on video.

No matter the penalty, Bieksa required medical attention on the bench while the game was delayed as workers brushed his blood off the ice. The 32-year-old Vancouver Canucks defenceman remained in the contest, to the surprise of no one.

“Give credit to him: Just spat out some blood and was ready to go on the next shift,” winger Matt Read said. “He’s a warrior, he’s our leader and it’s good to see that.”

Bieksa was unable to talk to reporters afterwards because he required stitches that made it difficult for him to speak.

His teammates spoke for him, most notably on the five-minute major power play.

“That’s a huge aspect of the game,” Read said. “A guy sacrificing his body, unfortunately, but if you don’t come out with at least one goal, you know you’re on your heels and it gives them all the momentum.”

Instead, Canada had all of it until midway through the third when the Czech Republic turned up the heat. The pro-Czech crowd of 6,317 came to life, but two late penalties — to Jaromir Jagr and Jiri Hudler — ended the chances of a comeback.

The win gave Canada seven points atop Group A. Its next game is Thursday against Denmark.

Before then, Tippett hopes to work on some things and use the third period as a teaching tool.

“Those are all good things — not good things for our team, but learning experiences for our team that we have to make sure we can get through situations like that,” he said.

Just minutes after holding on, Canada’s players recognized the value of getting tested in a game they looked to have total control of.

“It’s something we’re going to learn from moving forward that you can’t take it easy going into the third, no matter what kind of lead you have,” Turris said. “We’re gaining experience as we go.”

NOTES — Former Calgary Flames forward Roman Cervenka opened the scoring for the Czech Republic, cashing in on a two-on-one rush with Vladimir Sobotka. … Canada chased Czech starter Jakub Kovar after Rielly’s goal, the fourth on 13 shots. Alexander Salak got a roughing penalty for punching Burrows just seconds after he entered the game, then stopped the seven shots he saw the rest of the way.

Follow @SWhyno on Twitter

Just Posted

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

A seniors housing complex proposed for Cedar Hill Road in Saanich was supported by council after a public hearing on May 12. (Rendering by Jenson Group Architects)
New 85-unit seniors housing development gets green light from Saanich council

Four-storey rental complex would be located on Cedar Hill Road

Victoria police responded to a vehicle where this dog was found in distress due to the heat after being left inside. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Hot cars can be fatal to dogs left inside, Victoria police reminds public after distress calls

Victoria police found two dogs in a car with an internal temperature of 47 C on Friday

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read