After blitzing Team Europe in its first two pre-tournament games, Team North America fell 3-2 to the Czech Republic in its final tuneup game before the 2016 World Cup of Hockey begins this weekend in Toronto.
Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad led his club with 22:15 of ice time. The 20-year-old finished the game with 4 shots on goal, 2 hits, a block and an even rating.
After suiting up for the two games against Europe, Vincent Trocheck did not play in this game.
After Ondjrei Palat opened the scoring in the first period and Radek Faska added on 7:16 into the third, Shayne Gostisbehere and Auston Matthews scored 1:59 apart to forge a 2-2 tie. Matthews goal came with North America on a power play.
The game didn’t stay even for long as Tomas Plekanec beat Connor Hellebuyck for the eventual winner 53 seconds after Matthews’ goal.
Hellebuyck played the third period after starter Matt Murray stopped 16 of 17 shots over the first forty minutes.
Team North America opens play on Sunday night against Finland on Sunday in game that could feature all four Panthers in the tournament.