BOBRUISK, Belarus -- Canada wrapped up a disappointing run at the IIHF World U18 Championship with a 4-2 victory over Slovakia on Thursday.
The win gave Canada a seventh-place finish, its worst result at the tournament since its debut in 2002.
The Canadians found themselves in the relegation round for the first time at this event after losing three of their first four games. Canada needed a victory over Latvia on Wednesday to ensure it will stay in the A pool.
"I thought everybody was disappointed at the work that we did here at the start of the tournament," said head coach Guy Carbonneau. "Obviously we got better as the tournament went but we ran out of time."
Canada started strong against Latvia, with Steven Shipley opening the scoring 61 seconds into the game at the Bobruisk Arena. Quinton Howden, Ryan Spooner and Christian Thomas also scored in the first period for Canada.
Martin Marincin and Martin Kalinac scored for Slovakia.
Canadian goaltender Calvin Pickard stopped 17 of 19 shots. Canada fired 42 shots at Slovak goalie Dominik Riecicky.
Sweden and the United States will play for gold on Friday while Finland and Russia will face off for the bronze.
Canada is often hamstrung at the U-18 event because top players may be unavailable due to the major junior league playoffs. As a result, elite NHL prospects like Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers and Moncton Wildcats defenceman Brandon Gormley could not play.
"If Seguin or guys like that would have been here -- I don't know if we would have won -- but it would probably be a little bit easier," Carbonneau said. "But that wasn't the case. It's no excuse though. We had 22 players here capable of winning."
Carbonneau thought the players had trouble becoming a cohesive unit because they only had one exhibition game before the start of the event.
"Looking back I would have loved a three- or four-day training camp in Toronto to get the guys going a little bit earlier," Carbonneau said. "And instead of having one exhibition game, have maybe two. I think our preparation would have been a lot better."
All of the Canadian players were born in 1992 except defenceman Ryan Murray, who was born in 1993. Murray, Howden and forward Freddie Hamilton were named the top players on the Canadian squad.
Carbonneau, a former head coach with the Montreal Canadiens, said those three players impressed him.
"(The players) have to really become a team really quickly and these three guys really helped us do that," Carbonneau said. "They made it a lot easier and I'm sure it's going to be a good learning (experience) for the other guys."
The Canadian roster consisted of 13 players from the Ontario Hockey League, seven from the Western Hockey League and two from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Canada won the tournament in 2003 and 2008 and took the silver medal in 2005. Canada finished fourth at the tournament last year.