DAVOS, Switzerland – Canada’s win wasn’t pretty.
But after only a couple of days together, the Canadians were happy to escape with a 7-6 shootout victory over HC Energie Karlovy Vary in their opening game of the Spengler Cup on Saturday.
“It wasn’t a defensive gem by any means, but you’ve got to love a story with a happy ending,” Canadian assistant coach Doug Shedden said.
Serge Aubin scored the lone goal in the shootout to secure the win for the Canadians. Kurtis McLean had a goal and two assists, while Mike Siklenka, Shawn Heins, Travis Roche, Mark Bell and Alexandre Daigle added a goal apiece in the back-and-forth battle in front of 6,746 fans at Vaillant Arena.
Jaroslav Kristek scored twice for Czech team Karlovy Vary, while Michal Dobron, Dmitry Zyuzin, Lukas Pech, and Jan Kostal had one each. Kostal’s goal tied the game in the 53rd minute to send it into overtime.
Shedden said opening the annual tournament with a win was a big relief for a thrown-together national squad that only gathered in Sweden on Christmas Eve and had just two practices together.
“That first game is the most dangerous one because all the teams that you play here are teams that play together through the course of the year,” said Shedden. “We’ve rushed these guys together and we’ve had two practices and we’ve tried to jam a lot of information into them, and that first game’s the scariest.
“We got through it with a win, and I think that’s a very positive thing tonight.”
Wade Dubielewicz and David LeNeveu split time in net for Canada, Dubielewicz clinching the victory when he turned away Pech’s shot in the shootout.
Hometown team HC Davos beat Dynamo Minsk 3-2 in the other opening-round game Saturday.
The Canadians have Sunday off before facing HC Davos on Monday.
“Every year when Canada plays Davos, that’s the biggest game of the tournament, so the town will be shaking and going crazy and it will be exciting,” Shedden said. “Davos has a great team in the Swiss league, they’re the Swiss champions, so it should be an entertaining game.”
Shedden, an assistant to head coach Craig MacTavish, said the Canadians could use a day of practice.
“We have a lot to work on,” he said. “The first game, everyone is more excited and maybe a little bit dangerous jumping up on the play a little bit too much. We gave up too many odd-man rushes, and maybe the goaltending wasn’t quite as high as we expected it to be tonight either.”
Canada has made numerous appearances at the tournament which dates back to 1923 and is hosted by Swiss club HC Davos. The Canadians have won it 11 times since first participating in 1984. Most recently they claimed the title in 2007, but lost 5-3 in the final to Moscow Dynamo last year.