Canada rallied to take their opening matchup over Czechia by a score of 6-3 on Sunday night.
Things started off rocky for the Canadians as the Czechs jumped out to an early 3-1 lead over the hosts. 2021 first-overall pick Owen Power led the comeback as he netted a hattrick to help the team rally back and eventually take the win. Mason McTavish, Donovan Sebrango, and Olen Zellweger got the other goals for Canada.
On the Czech side, the team got goals from Michael Gut, Pavel Novak, and Stanislav Svozil.
Power and Svozil took home player of the games honours
Canada started off exactly how you would expect: with relentless pressure. It didn’t take long for them to get on the board as Anaheim Ducks prospect Mason McTavish danced around the Czechs and picked a corner over the shoulder of Jakob Malek. Four minutes in and Canada had the early 1-0 lead.
Czechia didn’t lay down and die. Jakub Brabenec fed Michal Gut on a two-on-one rush who responded with a goal for the Czechs. It was initially called no goal but the buzzer would stop play and it would eventually be called a good goal. Czechia doesn’t let Canada build a lead as they tie things up with just over 12 minutes to go.
Xavier Bourgault took the game’s first penalty as he got caught with a trip. It ended up being costly for Canada as Pavel Novak wired a bullet from the point that caught the corner of the net. Czechia shocks Canada by taking a 2-1 lead midway through the opening frame.
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The shocks continued to come as Stanislav Svozil dazzled a Canadian defender and roofed it short-side over Dylan Garrand. Czechia gets two goals in under a minute and Canada found themselves trailing 3-1.
Canada took a timeout after the goal and it seemed to work. On the ensuing play, Canada caused some havoc in front of the Czech net and forced the puck to the left sideboards. 2021 first-overall pick Owen Power threw it toward the net and it somehow made its way past Malek. Canada cuts the lead to 3-2.
A last-minute frenzy allowed Canada to tie things back up. With 29 seconds left in the period, Perfetti fed a wide-open Donovan Sebrango in the slot who let loose an absolute zinger to tie things up. A brand new game as an exhilarating first period ends 3-3.
The middle frame was a lot chippier than the first. Canada held the offensive advantage as most of the play was within the Czech end. The defensive strategy for Czechia was to tie up things as much as possible. Board battles were the name of the game as Canada looked to retake the lead.
There was a scary moment near the halfway point of the game. An unintentional knee-on-knee collision between David Jiricek and Will Cuylle left Jiricek in a heap on the ice. He would eventually be helped off the ice favouring his left leg and wouldn’t return.
Things started to unravel for the Czechs as they got into some serious penalty trouble. Jakub Sedivy took the initial tripping call, but both Jan Mysak and Michael Hradek would take a pair of penalties on that kill. This gave Canada a few MINUTES of 5-on-3 time.
The Canadians would take quick advantage of this as Owen Power snapped a one-timer to get his second of the game and a 4-3 lead. One Czech comes out of the box, but Canada still had over a minute of 5-on-3. Power completed the hattrick on the next shift as he tapped in a rebound to extend the Canadian to lead to 5-3. Power becomes the first Canadian defenceman in World Junior history to record a hattrick.
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Another Czech leaves the box, but Canada STILL had 35 seconds of powerplay time, this time at 5-on-4. Luckily for Czechia, they were able to kill the last penalty off.
Canada takes advantage of some extended powerplay time with two goals to build a 5-3 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
Canada continued to pour on the pressure in the third. Mason MacTavish had his stick slashed on an open net chance that went uncalled while Power went between the legs in a bid for his fourth that was denied by Malek.
Things weren’t nearly as exciting as the period ran down. Canada was content with their lead and Czechia struggled to develop any type of sustained pressure.
Olen Zellweger pounded a point shot past Malek for another power-play goal to make it 6-3 for the Canadians.
A potential loss for both Canadian and Edmonton Oilers fans to look out for as Xavier Bourgault left the game after being the recipient of a big open-ice hit. Remains to see if he’ll miss any time in the tournament.
That would be the game as Canada wins their opener on home ice.
FINAL SCORE: 6-3 Canada
Canada will have a day off tomorrow before taking on Austria on Tuesday. Czechia will not get a break as they will be back in action tomorrow against Germany.
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