Canada tied tournament favourite and perennial powerhouse Hungary in a stunning back and forth match today at the Olympic Qualification tournament in Trieste, Italy. With the lead alternating between teams throughout the game, Hungary managed to take a commanding lead in the 4th period, only to see it stifled by late heroics from Nicolas Constantin-Bicari, Kevin Graham, and John Conway who equalized the game with 5 seconds left.
The Hungarians took an early lead of 2-0, capitalizing on their first two power play opportunities, but Conway would cut the lead in half with a counter goal from the 5 spot. Hungary would then put the pressure on again, putting away a third power play goal, and adding a penalty to put them up 4-1. Constantin-Bicari would respond by netting his first of 4 goals, with a 5-meter free throw, shortly followed by Justin Boyd netting a power play goal late in the first period to make it 4-3.
The second quarter would open with a solid defence from the Canadians, followed by a powerplay goal from Captain Kevin Graham. On the following Hungarian defence, Kevin would steal the ball, and in subsequent Canadian attack, score a beautiful spin lob to put the Canadian squad up 5-4. The Hungarians would then score 3 unanswered and the teams would trade goals for the last 5 possessions of the period, leaving the halftime score 8-7 in favour of the Hungarians.
The third period would start with Constantin-Bicari netting his third of the game on a power play immediately followed by an Oliver Vikalo 1 on 0 counter attack goal to once again put the Canadians up 9-7, but Hungary would push back scoring two quick ones to take back the lead 10-9. Oliver Vikalo would net his second of the quarter, from distance, to bring the game back to equal terms. Hungary would respond by netting 3 quick goals, but luckily Constantin-Bicari would earn a late 5m penalty, which Conway would score to keep the game within 2 going into the fourth.
The fourth and final quarter would open up with Constantin-Bicari netting his final goal of the game, picking up the rebound, and maneuvering between two defenders before scoring to bring the game to within 1. After a Hungarian penalty would grow their lead once more, the teams became deadlocked for several minutes before a Kevin Graham pass from halfway ended up directly on the hand of Constantin-Bicari on a partial break and would take the inside lane to earn the Canadians a penalty shot with 42 seconds remaining. The passer, Kevin Graham, would put the penalty away to bring the game within 1. After an offensive foul, and an exclusion in transition, Constantine Kudaba would zip a pass to Conway on the wing who would then bury the ball past Hungarian goaltender to equalize this nailbiter. Two late saves from Dusan Aleksic kept the game a tie at the final buzzer.
After a 7-6 against Russia on Sunday, April 3rd, Canada is now set to face Slovakia on Tuesday, April 5 at 3:10pm (local time in Trieste, Italy).