Jakob Pelletier (Quebec City, Que./Moncton, QMJHL) scored his second goal of the game with less than three minutes left to pull Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team within one, but the comeback fell short in a 4-3 loss to the Czech Republic in 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup pre-tournament competition Saturday night.
Marcel Barinka opened the scoring nine minutes into the first period, cutting through the Canadian defence before tucking a shot around goaltender Taylor Gauthier (Calgary, Alta./Prince George, WHL).
Less than five minutes later, Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Y.T./Lethbridge, WHL) answered back for Canada; Kaedan Korczak (Yorkton, Sask./Kelowna, WHL) took the initial shot, and Cozens corralled a loose puck off the scramble in front and flipped it over the shoulder of Czech netminder Nick Malik.
The game looked destined to head to the first intermission tied, but Radek Muzik poked in the go-ahead goal with just 19 seconds left in the frame.
Pelletier’s first of the night pulled Canada even in the second period. Bowan Byram (Cranbrook, B.C./Vancouver, WHL) made a gorgeous cross-ice pass and Pelletier made no mistake, snapping it home.
Gauthier made a couple of fantastic stops to keep Canada in the game in the second period, including stretching out to stone Barinka on a clear-cut breakaway.
After Barinka got his second of the night to restore the Czech lead, converting on a breakaway early in the third period, the Europeans put the game out of reach when Matej Toman buried from the slot after a period of extended pressure on the power play. With an assist on the play, Barinka got his third point of the night.
Pelletier and Byram teamed up again on Pelletier’s second goal of the game; with Canada pushing hard in the offensive zone, Pelletier tipped in a Byram pass to get within one.
The Canadians continued to push hard as the clock ticked down, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
Canada opens its Hlinka Gretzky Cup schedule in Edmonton against Switzerland on Monday (7 p.m. MT), while the Czechs start in Red Deer against the United States (7 p.m. MT).