GAME NOTES: Canada vs. Czech Republic (May 3)
TV: TSN | Stream: TSN Direct
Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team needs its perfect streak at the IIHF U18 World Championship to remain
intact from here on out. It’s a clean slate for all eight nations that
enter the playoff round on Monday, but one lapse at this point of the
tournament could mean a ticket out of Texas.
Canada hopes to be the last team standing at the end of the road, beginning
with a quarterfinal test against the Czech Republic. After a hard-earned
win over Latvia earlier in the preliminary stage, Canada arrives for the
playoffs looking like a confident and dominant force in its last two
victories over Switzerland and Belarus.
Shane Wright made his presence on the ice known following a two-game
absence from the lineup,
scoring a pair of goals in a 5-2 win over Belarus that secured Canada top spot in Group A with an unbeaten record.
Mason McTavish, who did a lot of heavy lifting offensively for Canada
without Wright in the lineup, continued to score in bunches with a pair of
his own tallies that tied him for the team lead for goals with five
alongside his captain. Olen Zellweger is running hot on the blueline with a
goal and four assists in his last two games after factoring in with one of
The Czech Republic will be keen to put its final preliminary match-up with
Russia out of mind after an 11-1 thrashing. The Czechs were down 3-0 after
one and 6-1 after two, and were torched for a hat trick by Russian phenom
Matvei Michkov, who leads the tournament with nine goals and 11 points.
Down two goals less than six minutes in, Canada reversed its fortune in a
scoring the final six goals to earn a 6-2 victory in the preliminary-round finale for both teams at the 2019 tournament in
Alex Newhook got one back for the Canadians in the first period, and Dylan
Holloway and Philip Tomasino gave them the lead for good in the second
before Nathan Légaré, Jamieson Rees and Peyton Krebs scored in a span of
3:06 midway through the third to put the game out of reach.
WHAT TO WATCH
Who will head coach Dave Barr go with in the Canadian crease?
If there’s one thing common about both of starts for Benjamin Gaudreau,
it’s the ability the Corbeil, Ont., product has to come up with timely
saves when needed to keep Canada in the driver’s seat. The Sarnia Sting
netminder weathered a Latvian surge in his first start and made two
breakaway saves in Saturday’s win when the momentum of the game could’ve
swung in the direction of Belarus.
Thomas Milic has been less busy than Gaudreau, facing just 40 shots in his
two starts (compared to 53 for Gaudreau), but the Coquitlam, B.C.,
puck-stopper has been lights out, allowing just a single goal in wins over
Sweden and Switzerland and posting tournament-leading marks in
goals-against average (0.50) and save percentage (.975).
A LOOK BACK
The Canadians and Czechs have been evenly matched in 14 all-time match-ups
going back to 2002, with Canada holding a narrow 7-6 lead (with one tie).
Those 14 meetings include six in the playoff round – two quarterfinals, two
semifinals and two bronze medal games.
The teams have split the two quarterfinal showdowns. At the 2013 U18
worlds, Connor McDavid had a hat trick and Philippe Desrosiers made 19
in a 6-0 Canadian win, but the Czechs got 33 saves from Lukas Dostal to pull off the upset and
edge the previously unbeaten Canadians 2-1 in 2018.
All-time record: Canada leads 7-6-1 (Czechs lead 2-1 in OT/SO)
Canada goals: 47
Czech Republic goals: 32