VETERANS IMPRESS IN CANADIAN WIN OVER CZECHS AT U20 SHOWCASE
CALGARY, Alta. – 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship gold medallists Brayden Point (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) and Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, B.C./Calgary, WHL) put on a show at the Markin MacPhail Centre on Tuesday, combining for eight points in a 7-1 Canadian win; Point had five points and Virtanen added three.
“That’s nothing new from Brayden Point. The guy is just a world-class player who puts pucks in the net, shifts easily to defense, hits guys. He does it all,” said Virtanen. “Tonight he had a great performance.”
The Canadians posted their second straight come-from-behind win at Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp, scoring seven unanswered goals.
Midway through the first period, Canada turned it over in their own end before Filip Chlapik’s quick shot ended up over Mackenzie Blackwood’s (Thunder Bay, Ont./Barrie, OHL) stick for a 1-0 lead.
Late in the opening frame, Rourke Chartier (Saskatoon, Sask./Kelowna, WHL) tied it up for Canada on the power play, snapping a wrist shot from the hash mark off a set-up from Virtanen and Nicolas Aubé-Kubel (Sorel, Que./Val-d’Or, QMJHL).
Despite the tie game at the end of the first the Czech Republic doubled Canada in shots, 14-7.
A flurry of goals – four to be exact – and better skating and puck-handling helped Canada in the second period.
It started at 4:09 when Virtanen beat Czech goaltender Vitek Vanecek with a nice deke off a crafty pass from Point, and Haydn Fleury (Carlyle, Sask./Red Deer, WHL) fired in a slap shot from the point halfway through the period to give Canada a two-goal lead.
Late in the middle frame, Vanecek left the side of the net open for Point, who buried his shot into the gaping hole off a pass from Travis Konecny (Clachan, Ont./Ottawa, OHL).
Jut 2:19 later, Noah Juulsen (Abbotsford, B.C./Everett, WHL) and Point set up Brandon Hickey (Leduc, Alta./Boston University, HE) who walked in and tipped home the 5-1 goal.
Early in the third, Virtanen found himself open in the slot and beat Vanecek with a shot off the goaltender’s glove, and Point capped his impressive night at 13:22, tucking the puck around the Czech netminder.
“I thought our team clicked pretty quick and had a good game,” Point said. “The chemistry I got with my linemates (Anthony Beauvillier and Konecny) was fun to play. They’re fast and quick and really smart so it was easy.” Canada outshot the Czech Republic 27-34.
The Canadians next face Russia on Wednesday night, with an 8 p.m. MT puck drop at the Markin MacPhail Centre.