Canada’s junior hockey team beat a team they were supposed to in their first game. Their friendly schedule allows them to build through the round robin to the New Year’s Eve contest against their big rivals, the U.S.A. The Czech Republic is not an elite side, but a middling team. In their first game the Czech Republic lost 5-1 to the U.S. Despite the score the U.S. did most of their damage on the power play. 5-on-5 the Czechs played the U.S. even. This should have been a warning that they would be a bigger test for Canada than Germany was. What no one could have predicted was just how big a test they would end up being.
There really was no precedent for the 5-4 loss in shootout that Canada was going to suffer. Canada had won the last 8 meetings against the Czechs. Meaning they had never lost to the Czechs in this tournament. There is a first time for everything, I guess.
Each team scored a goal in the 1st period. Once again the opposition scored the first goal in a game against Canada. David Kampf scored for the Czechs and Sam Reinhart tied up the game on the power play. It was the second straight game in which Reinhart had scored and this must be a relief for him as he hadn’t scored for a month back at home. He also hit the post earlier in the game at the end of a power play. There has been great chemistry on the Reinhart-Connor McDavid-Bo Horvat line so far in the tournament.
The briskly played period with few whistles was probably the best Canada had played in their 5 games. They showed plenty of jump and energy. Games like this are dangerous as Canada dominated, but cannot score the goal to go ahead. If the Czech Republic were to score the next goal then some doubt could creep into Canada’s game.
That is exactly what happened. In the 2nd period the only goal scored was by the Czechs. It was on the power play after McDavid got his second hooking penalty of the game. Plutnar’s shot from the blue line deflected off Taylor Leier’s stick up and over Jake Paterson’s shoulder.
Canada had to start the 3rd period down a goal to a team they had never lost to in this tournament. They showed some character by fighting back to tie the game every time the Czech Republic took the lead.
Whereas in the first two periods only 3 goals were scored, but in the 3rd the two teams exploded for 5 goals. Tomecek and Vrana scored for the Czechs and Jonathan Drouin, Aaron Ekblad (shorthanded) and finally Habs’ draft choice Charles Hudon scored his first goal in a Team Canada uniform to tie the game at 4-4 with less than 7 minutes left in the game.
Overtime solved nothing so the game went to shoot out. The last Czech shooter Dominik Simon, with a Forsberg deke, scored to win the game for the Czechs. After the game most of the fingers of Canadian fans were pointed at goaltender Jake Paterson. He did not have a good game and many were calling for Brent Sutter to start Habs’ draft choice Zachary Fucale in the next game. Whoever starts the game Canada has to regroup and focus on winning their next game.
This victory by the underdog throws Group A into a state of flux. The U.S. is in 1st with 6 points, Canada has 4, Slovakia has 3 and the Czechs have 2. All 4 teams are still in the hunt for the top two spots which will move on to the medal rounds. Next up for Canada is Monday versus Slovakia.
-On-Ice Officials: Referees – Jacob Grumsen (Denmark) and Timothy Mayer (U.S.A.)
Linesmen – Eduard Metalnikov (Russia) and Henrik Pihlblad (Sweden)
-Goals: 1st Period:
7:10: Czech Republic – David Kampf assisted by Ondrej Kase
15:50: Canada – (pp) Sam Reinhart assisted by Bo Horvat and Connor McDavid
17:16: Czech Republic – Michal Plutnar assisted by David Knot
0:24: Canada – (pp) Jonathan Drouin assisted by Sam Reinhart and Anthony Mantha
4:07: Czech Republic – Vojtech Tomecek unassisted
11:09: Canada – (sh) Aaron Ekblad assisted by Scott Laughton and Curtis Lazar
12:45: Czech Republic – (pp) Jakub Vrana unassisted
13:01: Canada – Charles Hudon assisted by Anthony Mantha and Jonathan Drouin
-Shots on Goal: Canada – 29
Czech Republic – 29
-Players of the Game: Canada – Jonathan Drouin
Czech Republic – Petr Sidlik
-Final Score: Canada – 4
Czech Republic – 5 (SO)