A big win for Canada was overshadowed by an even bigger hit Tuesday at HSBC Arena at the Canada/Czech Republic game.
Canada won going away by a 7-2 margin but Zack Kassian's open ice hit on Petr Senkerik 5:53 into the middle period was all the talk post-game. Kassian got a head of steam and collided with Senkerik in the neutral zone. The check left Senkerik laying on the ice for several minutes. Kassian was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the play.
"Doesn't matter what I think," said Canada head coach Dave Cameron when asked about his thoughts on whether it was a clean hit. "I have no input into it. Whatever the protocals that are in place and whatever happens happens."
"Petr was awake so we're obviously happy about that," said Czech Republic assistant coach Jiri Fischer. "It was a pretty scary moment, especially the way he left the ice and silenced the building for several minutes. He was awake and he was communicating so I'm sure he's going to get some further evaluations tonight in the hospital and we'll know a little bit tomorrow."
"I saw it," said Panthers first-round pick (#3 overall in this past summer's draft) Erik Gudbranson
. "It's a hockey hit. It's not up to us to decide. It's up to the IIHF now."
With Canada holding on to a 2-1 lead and now having to kill off a five-minute major, the Czechs could have easily swung the momentum in their favor by potting a goal or two. Instead Canada's penalty kill unit came up big. First Gudbranson tied up a Czech player from getting to a rebound right in front of the net. Then later in the man advantage Canada struck.
Canada netminder Olivier Roy came up with a huge save on Honejsek who had worked his way behind the Canada defense and that started a rush up the ice where Schenn fed Louis Leblanc for the goal, making it 3-1.
"It was huge for us. It was defnitely a momemtum changer in that game," said Panthers first-rounder Quinton Howden
who along with Gudbranson is counted on to kill off Canada penalties. "Olivier was playing strong for us all game. Made a huge key save. The puck came down and Schenn made a beautiful pass over to Louie. That's definitely what we needed on the kill."
"That was really big," added Gudbranson. "We were frustrated but that's the best way to bounce back with that kind of stuff. We went hard and did a good job and came out with a good outcome."
From there, Canada never looked back. After scoring twice more on even strength to make it 5-1 after two, Canada added two power play tallies in the third (four total).
"Another good game against a worthy opponent. Im not sure I expected to win by such a large margin," said Cameron. "We were forced to have certain parts of our game really excel like our penalty kill and that I think a number of different times and that was a good win for us."
"Our team is a huge character team in the dressing room," said Howden. "We have got a lot of guys that will step up. Everybody is playing a key role."
"We came in and played well," said Gudbranson. "We had a shaky first five minutes but we bared down and played a good style of Canadian hockey and I think everybody was really happy with it."
It was the Czechs who actually got on the board first not even a minute into the game. A Honejsek took the turnover in the Canada zone and fired a shot over Roy's shoulder 49 seconds in for a 1-0 lead.
Kassian had a golden opportunity to tie it as he found himself all alone after a Czech player passed the puck right to him in the Czech zone. He shot the puck wide however and was denied on the follow up 9:16 into the first.
Given back to back power play opportunities, Canada made good on them both. Brayden Schenn fired a quick shot past Filip Novotny with 5:17 left in the opening period to tie it and then Jaden Schwartz scored off a feed from Schenn 1:57 later.
After one period of play, Canada held a 2-1 lead despite outshooting the Czech Republic 14-2.
Following the hit and the shorthanded goal, Ryan Ellis made it 4-1 on a delayed penalty. The Canadian captain snuck down from the blueline and while set up in front put home the puck centering pass from Schenn with 6:50 left in the middle period.
Canada struck again with less than a minute to go (16.3 seconds to be exact) as Cody Eakin scored top shelf off a nice feed from C Cizikas off the rush.
There was another scary moment in the third as Gudbranson was ridden hard into the boards and then speared by Martin Fryk with 14:11 left in the third. He was fine and returned to finish the game.
The Canadians found themselves on a two-man power play thanks to the major and additional penalites and converted not once but twice as Tyson Barrie's shot beat Novotny with 10:22 left to play and Jared Cowen scored with 10:01 left.
The Czechs closed out the scoring as Jakub Jerabek's point shot beat Roy with 4:34 left in the contest for the power play tally.
Roy finished with 17 saves while Novotny turned aside 32 shots. Schenn led all players with five points (goal, 4 assists).
Canada will play Wednesday night against Norway. The game starts at 7:30pm EST.