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World Junior Championships Recap: Canada v. Czech Republic, Round 1

Canada’s Jaden Schwartz (8) celebrates after scoring on the Czech Republic’s goaltender Filip Novotny during the first period of their game at the IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York, on Dec. 28, 2010. (REUTERS)
Canada’s Jaden Schwartz (8) celebrates after scoring on the Czech Republic’s goaltender Filip Novotny during the first period of their game at the IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York, on Dec. 28, 2010. (REUTERS)

I’m not sure what happened, but the Czechs must have gotten lost on the way to the arena. Had to be since this game was all Canada. The Czech Republic team showed a bit of life in the first five minutes or so, but for the remaining 55 minutes, they just couldn’t keep up.

The Czechs quickly got on the board within the first two minutes on a creative little play by Honesjek Antonin who picked up the puck in the neutral zone, skated up the middle by squeezing through a few Canadians, and zipping the puck in high glove side and off the post. That would nearly be the end of the Czech offense, however, as Olivier Roy stopped all but one of the remaining (few) pucks he faced.

There were quite a few injuries in the game, starting with Jaden Schwartz of the Canadian team (and of Colorado College). He went down awkwardly into the boards, but was able to come back into the game (and put up points). At this point, the "Let’s go, Canada" chants started and continued throughout the night at various times. Was this game really in Buffalo, NY, because I could have sworn it was in Canada?

The Canadian team pulled a penalty and proceeded on a very aggressive PK. The Czechs cycled well enough, but they turned over the puck due to poor passing. This would be the story of the night. Hemmed down in their own zone, the offense couldn’t even get going. Halfway through the first, shots on goal were 7-1 in favor of the Canadians; the only shot on net the Czechs got ended up in the back of it.

Canada took another penalty for abusing Filip Novotny: goalie interference on Casey Cizikas. (BTW, it happened off a good offensive drive started by none other than our own Tyson Barrie. The guy knows how to pinch. Cue TWSS coments). The PP didn’t matter much because the Czechs couldn't get past Canada into the offensive zone. A big part of the Canadians’ strength in this game was their physicality. They laid out some huge hits throughout the game.

Frustrated, the Czechs took a penalty of their own. Martin Frk (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) mauled a guy - something he’d do throughout the night. Canada’s PP was effective all night; Ryan Johansen tied up the game on a wrister from Brayden Schenn, who beat the defense straight up. The Czech Republic team got a one-on-break soon after, as Petr Straka stole the puck and got off a backhander just wide. He slid into Roy, but there wasn’t a penalty, and Roy wasn’t hurt.

However, soon after, Canada went on the PP again as Petr Senkerik did a little cross-check. Another goal. They boys engaged in some nice cross ice passing, Schenn (of Colorado College) slipped one to Schwartz, and in it went. At this point, Team Canada had two shots on their two power plays - and both were goals. Canada up 2-1.

The second period began with a big hit on Canada’s Calvin de Haan, which tweaked his knee and sent him to the locker room. Clean hit so no penalty. The goaltenders traded big saves in a lot of back and forth play. Zack Kassian of Team Canada then plowed into Senkerik so hard, he went down with a smack of the head on the ice. Head injuries are a big deal in the juniors, so whether it was intentional or not, Kassian got a 5 minute major, a game misconduct, and a one game suspension. Unfair? Yeah, I think it was. But it’s automatic, folks. No judgement calls here.

The Czechs were able to get some sustained pressure going, but Roy stood tall. Schenn picked up a rebound and immediately took the puck down the length of the ice for a shorthander after a slick pass to Louis Leblanc. Three-one Canada.

A humorous moment came with Marcus Foligno and a Czech player got tied up on the ice, went down, and were tangled there for an extended period of time. Play continued though, right around them. The Czechs ended up taking a penalty, but Canada scored on the delay, negating the power play. Schenn, from behind the net, passed the puck right into the slot for a waiting Ryan Ellis. Four-one Canda.

Another Czech penalty, another Canada power play, another goal. This time, Cizikas took it up the boards, feathered a pass to Cody Eakin, who beat Novotny high blocker side. With only 16 seconds left, the Canadians were up five-one.

Things didn’t get better in the third for the poor Czechs. The Canadian bench started out light as de Haan and Schwartz were still in the dressing room nursing injuries, and Kassian was out for the game. It didn't stop them, though. Sustained pressured kept the play in the Czech zone for minutes at a time. Lots of shots on net, including a rocket by Barrie from the point. The Czechs got to go on the power play as Foligno got a little too aggressive with his stick (TWSS), but it was to no avail. By now, the shot count was 35 Canada, 6 Czech Republic.

At this point, frustrations overwhelm and Frk (remember him?) committed a heinous penalty on Erik Gudbranson: he hooked him between the legs, blade up, pulled back with some force, and gave an extra whack for measure. Every male in the arena winced at the same moment. Gudbranson, understandably, crumpled to the ice; Frk got a 5 minute major, game misconduct, and one-game suspension - the same as Kassian. I say intent to injure deserves harsher penalties.

The Czechs were still on the PP, so it was four-on-four action for a while. Then the Canadians went on the power play for 3:20. The Czech Republic’s Jakub Jerabek got called for tripping (pretty weak, embellishment for sure), but it gave the Canadians a 5-on-3 nonetheless. Novotny took the pressure well, but ended up taking down Foligno with a chop to the legs, causing him to limp off the ice. Told you there were injuries in this game. Even with the penalty, it stayed 5-on-3 for the rest of the original time. Canada worked the puck well, cycling down low; a rebound popped back to Barrie who netted a wrister in the top right corner. Six to one. Since Novotny was called on that whack to Foligno, Canada was still on the power play and scored yet another goal. Barrie set up Jared Cowen who sent a hard one timer in for another goal. Seven to one.

Canada continued to pressure and throw the hits, but Quinton Howden pulled a penalty, sending the Czechs on the power play. Jerabek made the most of it and scored off a bullet of a shot over Roy’s shoulder, glove side. The game ended at Canada 7, Czech Republic 2.

Players of the Game:
Canada - Schenn - 3 assists
Czech Republic: Straka - random selection, I’d say

Next up for Canada: Norway, tonight at 5:30 pm MT/7:30 pm ET

An interesting tidbit: Marcus Foligno is American-born, but he has dual-citizenship as he grew up in Canada. He chose to play for the Canadian team because his mother asked him to before she died of cancer in 2009.

(Wow, I need to edit before I post. lol)
* UPDATE * Kassian got an extra game (2 total), Frk only received the one-game suspension