After taking a top Team USA to overtime yesterday afternoon, the World Junior Championship host Czech Republic readied for what would be another tough game against Group B leader Canada. Czech head coach Vaclav Varada had some lineup adjustments to make once again as the team got word the star forward Jan Jenik would be out of the lineup after leaving the USA game at the end of the second period with what appeared to be a knee or leg injury.
With high hopes going into the game, things would quickly turn against the hosts as the Canadians wasted little time finding the back of the net just under five minutes into the game when Joe Valeno scored on his return to the Canadian lineup. Discipline became a factor for the Czechs again as the Canadians made it 2-0 on the power-play on a goal by Nolan Foote with ten minutes remaining in the period. A five minute slashing major called on Okatar Sik gave Canada the man advantage again, Canada’s Barrett Hayton threw a shot on net that Czech goaltender Lukas Parik would come across to stop, but a review determined the puck crossed the goal line and give Canada another power-play to extend their lead to 3-0. The scoring didn’t stop there for Canada as a scramble in front of net resulted in Connor McMichael dug the puck free and scored the final goal of the period with five and a half minutes left in the period. The goal would also literally add insult to injury as Parik was injured on the play and had to leave the game. 2020 NHL Draft prospect Nik Malik took over the duties in net for the Czechs and the period came to a close with Canada ahead 4-0
The high scoring affair continued into the second period, Canada’s Joe Valeno was handed a slashing penalty midway through the period and the Czechs made quick work on the ensuing power-play when Vojtech Strondola who replaced the injured Jan Jenik in the lineup found a rebound and scored to get the hosts on the board with eight minutes and fifty seconds left. Then just fourteen seconds later when Czech captain Libor Zabransky cut the Candian lead in half to 4-2. Liam Foudy answered for Canada one minute later to extend the lead for Canada to 5-2 and stop the bleeding against the hosts. With seven minutes and thirty seconds left Dylan Cozens scored the final goal of the period for Canada on the power-play again to regain the four goal lead and make it 6-2 heading into the third period.
Compared to the other two periods the third passed rather quietly. Jared McIsaac added to the Canadian lead to make it 7-2 with 10 minutes remaining in the game, and ending the scoring in the lopsided affair for the hosts. With the loss the Czechs finish the preliminary round in fourth place in the “Group of Death”. The Czechs will have to regroup quickly as they prepare to face the Group A winners Sweden in the quarterfinals at 1:00pm EST on January 2.
Photo Credit: Team Czech Republic (Twitter)