A strong start and a textbook finish made up for a second-period slump as Canada advanced to the semifinals of the Spengler Cup with a 6-3 win over the Rochester Americans on Sunday.
Byron Ritchie and Jacob Micflikier each scored twice to lead the way for Canada, which jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead before letting Rochester back into the game in the second.
“It was nice to go into the locker-room after the first period with that lead but you had the feeling it wasn’t over,” Canada coach Doug Shedden said.
“Then a couple of mistakes, a couple of little things and in this business you just can’t make those little mistakes because they add up to big things, and once they made it 4-3 we had a monster on our hands.”
Canada was able to re-establish momentum in the third period, and two more goals put the game out of reach.
“I was really third with our third period, I thought it was textbook hockey,” Shedden said.
Canada will play Swiss club HC Geneve-Servette in Monday’s semifinal. Geneve-Servette had an automatic berth to the semis after finishing first in its group.
The game will reunite Shedden and Geneve-Servette head coach Chris McSorley, who was an assistant coach for Canada when it won last year’s Spengler Cup.
“(McSorley’s) team’s playing a more North American style of hockey. They chip pucks in and they’re a hard-forechecking team that drives the net hard, so I think you’re going to see similar styles,” Shedden said.
After starting sluggishly in a 3-2 loss against host HC Davos on Saturday, Canada came out flying against the Americans.
Ritchie gave Canada a 1-0 lead at the 7:30 mark, then Micflikier’s two goals put the Canadians up 3-0 heading into the first intermission.
Rochester came back in the second, capitalizing on Canadian mistakes.
“We made a blind pass behind the net on their first goal and then we took a penalty and before you know it it’s 4-3. So our management skills were kind of dumb in that area,” Shedden said.
Shedden said the team went back to basics in the third period, and goals from Ritchie and Alexandre Giroux clinched the win.
“Our point was we get hard forechecking and we stick to our (system) and get the turnovers, and don’t let them in our zone,” Shedden said. “I thought we did it really well in the third period.”
Derrick Walser also scored for Canada, while Ahren Spylo added three assists.
Chris Mason got the start in goal for Canada and gave up three goals over 22 shots over the first 40 minutes. He left after the second period with an injured groin.
“He came to me after the second period and said ‘I should have pulled myself after the first goal because that’s when I felt it, but I thought I could stick it out,“’ Shedden said.
Allen York replaced Mason in the third and stopped all five shots he faced.
Nathan Lieuwen started fort Rochester and surrendered three goals on 14 shots in the first period. Matt Hackett came in at the start of the second and stopped 19 of 22 shots the rest of the way.
Alexander Hutchings, Dan Catenacci and Joel Armia scored for Rochester, which is the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.
Host HC Davos will face CSKA Moscow in the other semifinal. Moscow beat HC Vitkovice Steel 3-2 on Sunday to advance.