Coach counting on better showing in game against Slovakia tonight
Canadian player Nelson Vargas Dias collides with the Greek goaltender Fotios Moshonasas Greek player Paul Barbas (left) watches the play during their game at the world ball hockey championship action at the Jack Byrne arena Monday night. Canada won 3-2. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Canada’s less-than-stellar performance against Greece at the 2013 World Ball Hockey Championship at the Jack Byrne Arena Monday night was termed “a wake-up call” by coach Tony Iannitto.
Canada scored with a two-man advantage late in the second period en route to a 3-2 win over Greece at the Jack Byrne Arena.
The Canadians were fortunate to get the win after a lackluster start that saw them fall behind 2-1 midway in the second frame.
St. John’s native Justin Pender, the player of the game for the winners, tied the game at 2-2 on a shot just outside the blueline with eight minutes left in the second period.
Martin Frechette scored the winner with 23 seconds left in the second frame, with Bonavista native Andrew Sweetland earning the assist. Nelson Vargas Dias opened the scoring for Canada on a first-period power play.
Kevin Kuezmarski scored two power-play goals for Greece and was player of the game for his side.
The Canadian coach wasn’t surprised at how well Greece played.
“I just think our team wasn’t ready in the first period. We got better in the second and we played a good third period,” said Iannitto. “The guys weren’t mentally prepared at the start and must have been thinking it was going to be an easy game.”
Today, the Canadians will need to find another gear if they want to stay atop the standings as they take on Slovakia which blanked Germany 6-0 for a 2-0 record. The big match is slated for 8:15 tonight after the official tournament opening ceremonies, slated to start at 7 p.m.
“There won’t be any more easy games,” said Iannitto. “I think our guys have learned a lesson. They’ll be ready for our next game.”
Pender, who played a solid game on defence and pounded the ball from the blueline on Canada’s power plays, said he didn’t know the game was going to be so hard.
“But we came out on top and now, hopefully, we can keep going.”
Pender admitted his team struggled to find its legs in the first period.
He said he’s well aware that Slovakia is a strong team, but feels Canada will get the win if they play the way they played in the second half of Monday’s contest.
“We need to play our game. Keep it simple. We need to get the ball deep, get bodies going to the net and hopefully we can bang in a few rebounds.”
Greece lost the services of starting goaltender Fotios Moshonas midway in the second period when he slipped on the floor and went down while trying to race out of the net on a delayed penalty call against Canada. He was replaced by Ioannis Vrettis.
In an earlier game, Portugal upset the defending world champion Czech Republic 1-0 with the help a brilliant glove save by goaltender Daniel Medeiros with 28 seconds left in the game. The U.S. beat Switzerland 7-1.