BOBRUISK, Belarus – Guy Carbonneau is hoping to turn a disappointing loss to Switzerland into a motivational tool for his Canadian team at IIHF World U18 Championship.
The Canadians were upset 3-1 by the Swiss on Tuesday in their first preliminary round game of the annual hockey tournament.
“It’s a bump in the road and hopefully we can find a way to get back,” said Carbonneau, the Canadian head coach. “Sometimes that’s what you need – a good ass-kicking to get you going.”
In the other early game Tuesday, Finland hammered Latvia 7-2. In the late games, Russia beat the Czech Republic 4-1 while Sweden edged the U.S. 4-2.
Gregor Hoffman and Samuel Guerra scored in the first period to give the Swiss a 2-0 lead.
“We knew they were going to work for 60 minutes,” said Carbonneau. “That’s the kind of team that they have.”
Quinton Howden of Oakbank, Man., cut the lead to 2-1 midway through the second but Joel Vermin secured the victory with an empty-net goal with five seconds to go in the third.
“It took us a period to really find our legs,” Carbonneau said. “We played a little bit better at the end but I don’t think it was the effort that we wanted to have in the first game.”
Canada played just one exhibition game prior to the start of the tournament, a 5-4 loss to Finland. With several players on the roster coming off long layoffs following the end of the major junior regular season, Carbonneau said he did the best he could to prepare.
“We have to remember that most of these guys haven’t played a game in over a month, maybe a month and a half,” he said. “To get into a tournament like this with the best players in the world, it’s not easy.”
“But I think we prepared ourselves the right way,” he added. “We had a bunch of good practices.”
Winnipeg’s Calvin Pickard made 31 saves for Canada while Lukas Meili stopped 33 shots in the Swiss net.
“Today we tried to play on our skills instead of just a lot of hard work and we got caught,” Carbonneau said.
He’ll be hoping to see a better effort Thursday when Canada faces host Belarus.
Canada is trying to improve on a fourth-place finish last year. The Canadians won the tournament in 2003 and 2008 and took the silver medal in 2005.