CZECHS EDGE RUSSIANS, WIN FIRST-EVER WJAC MEDAL
JASON LA ROSE
TRURO, N.S. – Tomas Havranek scored once and added an assist and Adam Brizgala made 28 saves, helping the Czech Republic to a 4-2 win over Russia on Friday night in the bronze medal game at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge.
The Czechs, who were making their sixth appearance at the tournament, reached the podium for the first time. Their previous best finish was last year, when they lost to the Russians in the bronze game.
A scoreless first period was highlighted by a penalty-shot save by Brizgala, who got his right pad on the attempt by Ruslan Iskhakov late in the opening frame.
Jan Kern broke through for the Czechs just past the five-minute mark of the second period, redirecting in a feed from Lukas Rousek, only for Iskhakov to tap in a pass from Danila Galeniuk at the side of the net to get the Russians even at 13:19.
Michael Gaspar restored the Czech advantage in the dying seconds of the middle stanza, burying a rebound after Russian goaltender Daniil Isaev had kicked away the initial shot from Tomas Vochozka.
Jan Hladonik made it a two-goal game just over three minutes into the third period, blazing past a Russian defenceman and slipping the puck five-hole on Isaev for the eventual game-winner.
Alexander Romanov got one back for Russia with 6:15 to go, absolutely ripping a one-timer past Brizgala on the power play, but that would be as close as it would get.
The Russians pushed in the final minutes, but Havranek hit the empty net from his own zone with 11 seconds left to clinch the bronze medal.
The loss ends a run of four consecutive medals for Russia, which had collected two silver and two bronze since finishing fifth at the 2012 tournament in Yarmouth, N.S.