Junior Worlds: Czechs beat Canada 5-2
Jaroslav Chemeler and Matous Mensik scored 33 seconds apart on a five-minute power play as Czechia upset Canada 5-2 in the opener for both countries at the World Junior Championship men’s hockey Monday.
Stanislav Svozil and David Spacek, with one goal and one assist each, and David Moravec provided the rest of the offense for underdog Czechia, the country commonly known as the Czech Republic.
Tomas Suchanek was brilliant making 36 saves behind a structured and determined group.
Shane Wright, with a goal and an assist, and Connor Bedard replied for Canada. Benjamin Gaudreau allowed five goals on 17 shots before being replaced by Thomas Milic in the second period. Milic finished with 10 saves for the suddenly faltering tournament favorites who lost to the Czechs for the first time in 3,285 days.
Sweden beat Austria 11-0 in the other Group A game.
Seeking their 20th gold medal after winning at home in Edmonton last summer, Canada suffered just their second defeat in 24 encounters with the Czechs in the men’s under-20 showcase since 1994, the only other loss having come in a shootout in the 2013 Preliminary Round.
Trailing 3-2 in the second period on Monday, Canada collapsed after forward Zach Dean was assessed a match penalty for an illegal head check.
As Dean took an early shower, Chemeler hit home a loose puck from Gaudreau’s doorstep at 8:14 before Mensik shot from a sharp angle moments later to end the unforgettable night of ‘a goalie.
Canada pushed as the period progressed, but Suchanek was there to counter Brennan Othmann on a frantic power play before Wright hit the post late in the period.
The Canadians got a power play early in the third but were unable to connect, and the quietly confident Czechs kept their cool from there to secure an unlikely victory.
The first ‘normal’ world juniors since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – 2021 was played in a bubble before the 2022 event was postponed for eight months – fans inside a center of Scotiabank foam were ready as soon as the puck was dropped.
The tournament hosts had a number of early chances, including Adam Fantilli’s attempt at ‘The Michigan’ which was thwarted by Spacek, before chasing on the power play.
After the Czechs were whistled for goalie interference on a streak where the puck ended up in Gaudreau’s net, Wright deflected Olen Zellweger’s point shot for the Canadian captain’s first-ever goal at the junior world championships.
Bedard then had Canada’s second effort to complete ‘The Michigan’ – where a player picks up the puck on his stick behind the net and tries to put it upstairs – before Brandt Clarke’s 2-0 goal failed. be nullified by an offside criticism.
This seemed to energize the Czech Republic.
Spacek scored on a backdoor play where he caught Fantilli taking a defensive nap before Moravec’s shot 35 seconds later gave the Czechs an improbable 2-1 lead inside 20 minutes.
Svozil gave the Czechs a two-second lead 44 seconds after intermission when he had too much room to get out of the point, but Bedard responded 45 seconds later with a turnover to ignite the crowd dressed in Maritime red which welcomed the world’s juniors for the first time. time in 20 years.
But Dean’s hit on defender Ales Cech resulted in a five-minute penalty that extended the Czech underdog’s lead to three and left Canada with plenty of questions.
Canada’s goal song for the first World Junior Championships to be played on the East Coast in 20 years is « Heave Away » by The Fables, a Celtic rock band from St. John’s, NL
TROUBLE OF THE JOURNEY
Czech defender David Jiricek’s kit only arrived in Halifax on Monday afternoon due to the winter storm that hit central and eastern Canada last week.
The No. 6 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft — owned by the Columbus Blue Jackets and a member of the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters — was scheduled to join his teammates Friday in Halifax, but didn’t exit Toronto until 48 hours later.
Jiricek was on the ice for his team’s morning skate – with borrowed equipment – and was a game time decision until his bag was carried from the airport to the arena.
Canada: Plays Germany on Wednesday.
Czechia: play Austria on Tuesday.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 26, 2022.