Central Albertans got their one chance to see Team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup on Saturday during a pre-tournament game against the Czech Republic.

Those who nearly packed Red Deer’s Servus Arena were treated to a competitive game but saw Canada fall 4-3 to the Czechs.

The Czechs were led by forward Marcel Barinka, who scored two goals. Radek Muzik and Matej Toman also scored.

Forward Jakob Pelletier, who plays for the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats, scored twice for Canada. Dylan Cozens, from the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, scored Canada’s other goal.

“I really liked the way the guys played in terms of structure. Our decision with the puck was probably our weakness. We turned too many pucks over. We passed on grade A scoring chances, tried to be too cute,” said Canada’s head coach André Tourigny.

The frantic final moments of the game saw the Canadians hem the Czechs in their own end. However, they were unable to draw even.

Canada will play the rest of the U-18 tournament in Edmonton, as Servus Arena becomes the site for Group B round robin games.

Teams in Group B include the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and the United States.

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