Game of the Day -- Junior Edition

IIHF World Junior Championship
Czech Republic vs. Canada @ HSBC Arena
2-7 Final

After their hardwork and a win against Russia, Canada looks to continue their winning road to the semi-finals.  But if the Czech have anything to say about it, they want to continue their own winning path after a 2-0 defeat on Norway.

Another tough match-up between the two teams, who will be one step closer to getting that bye to the semi-finals?

Similar to Russia, Canada did not get off to the greatest of starts.  Just 49 seconds into the game, Canada and Olivier Roy got beat by the Czechs.  Antonin Honejsek beat Roy far glove-side with a ringing shot that bounced off of the far post and into the net behind Roy.  And then Casey Cizikas took a tripping penalty a little under 4 minutes after to put his team short-handed.  In Canada's last game, the boys in red used the penalty kill to give the team a jolt of energy and change the game in Canada's favour.  Not much was different this time around.  Canada killed off the penalty, allowed zero shots on goal, and even had two face-offs down in the offensive zone.  If that's not a good PK (without scoring), show me a better one.

The Czech Republic had a very good opening period for the most part.  They came in with zip and speed and nice pressuring offensive.

And then finally came the Canadian power-play.  And who else, but Brayden Schenn scores Canada's first goal with a little over 5 minutes left and just about 30 seconds into the PP.  A sniper-like shot, Schenne beat Filip Novotny to put his team on level ice.  The Czechs started to unravel and took another penalty.  This time it took 12 seconds into the PP for Jaden Schawrtz to convert a shot into a goal. Novotny was beaten low glove-side by a quick release from Schwartz.

Second period starts and things don't look so peachy for Canada.  Schwartz was not on the bench to start the second, but limps back about 2 minutes in.  But his arrival is on the heels of Calvin de Haan going down after a good drive into the Canadian end-boards.  He was down and when the whistle went off, de Haan slowly made his way to his feet and over to the bench.  While in the tunnel, Canada's medical trainer checked out the scenario, and thanks to a camera angle, de Haan looked like he was in pain. It would be amazing to see him return, but I don't want him to return too soon.

The period did not get any better in terms of injuries.  Zach Kassian delivers a big-bodied, open-ice hit on Petr Senkerik and the Czech goes down and stays down.  Senkerik was down for the big count and the stretcher was called.  Senkerik was removed from the game via stretcher with his neck in a brace.  Now, the call on the play was that Kassian received 5 minutes for checking to the head and a 10 minute game misconduct, meaning he will at least miss the Canada's game against Norway.
Now I am all for disciplinary action when necessary, but THIS HIT WAS CLEAN!  Kassian's elbows were in, his shoulder hit Senkerik's chest, his feet stayed on the ground, and the hit was not from the blind-side!  And on the landing Senkerik's head did not hit the ice.  Thus, no hit to the head penalty should've been called!  Coach Dave Cameron was infuriated, and quite honestly so was I.  Just because the result was one that is disliked and in concern of everyone doesn't mean that the hit was illegal!  It was a good open-ice hit and should not have garnered a penalty!  I would much like that play to go under review by the entire IIHF board and all of the refs, and then you can tell me whether that deserved a penalty or not!

While on the 5 minute PK, a minute and a-half was left when Canada's PK turned up the notch on the offence.  Brayden Schenn carried the puck into the offensive zone with Louis Leblanc on the support.  Schenn seemed to have slowed down the play and that pass to Leblanc was perfection!  It didn't take long to see that puck in the back of Novotny's net.

Emotions ran high and the Czechs get a lot scruffier.  At one point a Czech was practically sitting on Marcus Foligno in the middle of the Czech zone.  On the delayed penalty, Canada delivers the shots and shows its dominance in the offensive part of the ice.  All the digging, poking, shooting, prodding, and other various stick movements led to Ryan Ellis getting a goal to put his team up 4-1.  And to add another nail into the Czech coffin, Cody Eakin (who I like to call The Ginger) scores a snapper over the Czech goalie in the dying seconds of the period.

The pressure did not lay off over the second intermission.  When the teams returned, they went right back to how they were, albeit more calm.  Foligno has been playing a physical game all tournament long, but his stick finally got the best of him.  His stick ended up around the waist of a Czech and earned him a hooking penalty.  While on the offence, Martin Frk gets his stick up in Erik Gudbranson's junk and got a spearing for a couple of jabs in the special area.  I don't have balls, but my balls were hurting after seeing it in slow-mo!

With the penalties piling onto the Czech part of the score sheet, Canada realises that it's time to pile on the goals in case the winner came down to goal differentials.  It took some time, but we got the puck rolling.  On the first penalty, Tyson Barrie scores.  Barrie slowed everything down - looked like he about stopped - and assessed the scene and what he had before him.  I guess the scene was to his liking because he shot and it just flew past Novotny!  And when Novotny's penalty (given when he chopped Foligno behind the knees) kicked in, Jared Cowen one-times his first of the tournament past the Czechs to give Canada a more cushioned 7-1 lead.  Seems like quite a while ago when we trailed, eh?

Though it did not count for much, Jakub Jerabek fired his shot over Roy's head who didn't even see it coming.

What worries me the most from this game is how many players Canada will have out for the next match.  We know for certain that Kassian is out, but will Schwartz and de Haan be out too?  I have a feeling that they will.  Schwartz was last seen limping quite noticeable after the second period, and de Haan looked to be in pain in the tunnel when they were trying to assess the extent of his injury.  So on the brightest note possible, Canada will be down only three men the next game.  How many will make it to tomorrow's game?

Man of the Match: Brayden Schenn (CAN), Petr Straka (CZE)

My 3 stars:
(1) Brayden Schenn
(2) Ryan Ellis
(3) Olivier Roy


Canada                                                                                Czech Republic 
Brayden Schenn: 1 G, 3 A                                                    Antonin Honejsek: 1 G
Ryan Ellis: 1 G, 2 A                                                              Jakub Jerabek: 1 G
Jaden Schwartz: 1 G                                                             Martin Planek: 1 A
Louis Leblanc: 1 G
Cody Eakin: 1 G 
Tyson Barrie: 1 G
Jared Cowen: 1 G
Ryan Johansen: 1 A
Carter Ashton: 1 A
Erik Gudbranson: 1 A
Casey Cizikas: 1 A

Olivier Roy: 17/19 SA, 0.895 SV%                                            Filip Novotny: 32/39 SA, 0.821 SV%

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