TEAM CANADA STRIKES EARLY AND OFTEN IN IMPRESSIVE WIN OVER CZECHS
CALGARY, Alta. – Canada dazzled fans with a 6-2 victory over the Czech Republic on Thursday night at the Markin MacPhail Centre as Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp wrapped up.
Canada finished the World Junior Showcase with a 3-0-1 record against the Czechs and Russians.
After giving up the first goal in the first three games, the Canadians were determined not to let it happen in game four, and took the lead at 11:05 of the opening frame.
After Canada failed to convert on a 5-on-3 advantage when the Czechs sent two players to the box at 8:32, Julien Gauthier (Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que./Val-d’Or, QMJHL) and Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, B.C./Seattle, WHL) set up Olivier LeBlanc (Quebec City, Que./Cape Breton, QMJHL) who wired a shot past Czech goalie Karel Vejmelka.
Midway through the second period, Brayden Point (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) took a long pass from Joe Hicketts (Kamloops, B.C./Victoria, WHL) at the Czech blue-line and broke in alone, making some fancy moves, deking out Vejmelka and tapping the puck in under his glove.
Point, who scored eight points in the two games he played, set up a great goal in the final minute of the second period, taking a pass from Alexandre Carrier (Quebec City, Que./Gatineau, QMJHL) in the corner and finding Nick Merkley (Calgary, Alta./Kelowna, WHL), who buried it for a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes.
“Playing with Brayden is pretty special,” said Merkley. “He’s probably the smartest guy I’ve ever played with.”
The Czechs got on the board with a beautiful goal early in the third; Jiri Cernoch brought the puck into the zone and made a short pass to Jakub Zboril, who fired it past Samuel Montembeault (Becancour, Que./Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL) to get his team on the board at 3:17.
Canada’s fourth goal of the game was right out of the play book. Mitchell Marner (Thornhill, Ont./London, OHL) made the charge into the Czech zone, danced around with the puck and saw Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL), who went five-hole on Vejmelka.
Merkley netted his second of the game at 7:01 when Point found him open at the side of the net, and Strome added his second with a tip-in off a shot by Thomas Chabot (Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) at 13:25 of the final frame.
Cernoch knocked in a loose puck in front of Montembeault for a late Czech goal to finish the scoring.
Canada outshot Russia and the Czechs 124-86 and outscored its opponents 19-7 in the four games.