It wasn’t easy, and for fans of Team Canada it was a nail biter to say the least, but Canada came from behind to defeat Team Slovakia by a score of 5-3. With the win, combined with Germany’s 3-0 win over the Czech Republic earlier in the game, Canada has finished at least 2nd place in Group A, and sets the stage for the seemingly annual New Year’s Eve showdown with the United States for first place in the pool and the opportunity to avoid Sweden, Russia and Finland in the Quarterfinal.
Nikolas Petan scored the winner with 2:46 remaining and then iced it with the empty netter 20 seconds from the end of the game to complete the comeback from a 2 goal deficit.
Canada got down early again, allowing the first goal for the sixth straight game (including the three pre-tournament games). It was a power play goal with Jonathan Drouin receiving a minor and automatic 10 minute misconduct for checking to the head just 10 seconds in. The Slovaks scored the first of their 3 power play goals before the game was 2 minutes old. That lead held until late in the frame when Ottawa Senators first rounder Curtis Lazar tied the game at 1.
Slovakia scored two power play goals in the second to take a 3-1 lead, with Gatineau Olympiques forward Martin Reway scoring and David Griger getting his second of the game. Anthony Mantha got one of those goals back late in the period to narrow the lead to one and set the stage for the late comeback.
The Canadians waited a long time to get the equalizer, as just past the 14 minute mark Drouin knotted the score, with an assist from Mantha, allowing Petan to be the hero.
Zachary Fucale got the win in his World Juniors debut after Jake Paterson started the first 2 games for Canada, and was replaced as the started after a sub-par outing in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Czech Republic.
Canada can clinch first place and a likely matchup with Switzerland with a regulation win tomorrow over the US. Any other result will result in Canada finishing 2nd in the group and a probable date with Russia in the Quarterfinals after Finland upset the Russians earlier in the day.