The road to gold, to back-to-back gold, officially opened for Canada on Saturday, and the team advanced with a 3-0 quarterfinal victory over the Czech Republic.
Canada entered the contest having won Group A with four consecutive victories by a combined 33-4 score. Compared to those contests, this one was a lot closer. It took more than eight minutes for the Canadians to score; in each of the four preliminary games, the Canadians were on the board within the first five minutes. The Czechs also outshot the Canadians in the first period, marking the first time that has happened in 2021. But when the horn sounded to end that opening frame, Canada was up 2-0.
“That was tough out there. [The Czechs] really battled hard,” said head coach Andre Tourigny. “They obviously don’t have the depth and talent of other countries but they have the heart and they play hard and they were tough to play against. So, a lot of credit to them.
“And on our side, that was perfect. I like that better. We had to work hard and we had to dig in and we had pressure. We needed to regroup at some point because . . . maybe we were frustrated or, I won’t say panic, but you push, you’re frustrated, you need one good thing to happen and it’s tough to make it happen. We were pressing a little bit. It’s good to go through that. World Juniors is adversity and today we had adversity and we overcame it, so I’m happy.”
Dylan Cozens opened the scoring, taking a chip pass from Connor McMichael and beating Nick Malik, the son of ex-NHLer Marek Malik, for his tournament-leading seventh goal. The Sabres prospect added an assist to take his point total to 13 in 2021; he’s second behind the United States’ Trevor Zegras. Between the 2020 and 2021 editions, he now has 22 points and is in sole possession of sixth place all time among Canadians in World Juniors play.
A little more than three minutes later, Bowen Byram — wearing the “C” for this game — extended Canada’s lead with his first of the tournament. The goal came four seconds after a Canada power play expired. Connor McMichael, who had been doing everything except scoring, added an empty-netter.
“It was a great game, we played a hard 60 minutes,” said Peyton Krebs. “It starts with our leaders, [Cozens], he set the tone hard. He plays hard every shift and the rest of the guys follow that. . . . The Czechs played a great game and it was a lot of fun. It was a playoff hockey game and we definitely answered well.”
While the Czechs didn’t get a goal, they gave the Canadians all they could handle. It was especially tight in the third period with the Czechs pressing a little more and the Canadians holding onto the worst lead in hockey. However, Devon Levi was once again solid in net as he showcased pinpoint positioning. Saturday night was the busiest he has been all tournament; he turned aside 29 for his second shutout.
“It was super fun to be busy in the first period. It really keeps you in the game,” said Levi, who faced 12 shots in the frame (the Canadians had just eight). “It’s a different type of game, right? So, the past games it was bit harder to stay focused. I found in this game it was easy to have fun and just go out and play, for sure.”
Alex Newhook (upper body) was a game-time decision but did not play for Canada. He left the New Year’s Eve win over Finland in the second period. Connor Zary, who just signed an ELC with the Flames, centered Krebs and Cole Perfetti.
Zary, who plays for Kamloops in the WHL, got some sound advice from one of the team’s part-owners, Shane Doan.
“Something he kind of [said] that stuck with me is always being ready no matter what the situation is,” said Zary, noting he talks to the ex-NHLer often and that Doan suggested he think of a few things he can focus on when getting on the ice. “Just making sure you’re happy every single day and you’re happy with what you do. Every day there’s going to be new challenges and new things but you got to go out there with a smile on your face and with no regrets.”
Well, Zary and his buddies are sure to have smiles on their faces now as they advance to the semifinals and will see a familiar foe. The Americans’ win means there will be a rematch of the 2020 gold-medal game with Russia, and the Canadians will be looking for the same result.
Sporting News had all the action as Canada shut out the Czech Republic and guaranteed itself a chance for a medal.
Canada vs. Czech Republic scores, highlights from 2021 World Juniors quarterfinals
(All times Eastern)
Third period: Canada 3, Czech Republic 0
9:30 p.m. — With 1:58 left in regulation, Quinton Byfield is called for hooking.
9:28 p.m. — EN GOAL. Three minutes to go in regulation and the Canadians get the puck out. Connor McMichael with the empty-netter seals it. Canada leads 3-0.
9:27 p.m. — Czechs getting chances but all from the perimeter/points.
9:27 p.m. — Big point shot and Levi with the save.
9:26 p.m. — They pulled him again and after a whistle, there’s 4:09 on the clock and a faceoff deep in Canada’s zone.
9:25 p.m. — Faceoff at center ice so the goalie is back in net.
9:24 p.m. — With 5:36 left in regulation, the Czechs have pulled their netminder and it seems to help give the team some energy — but not a goal.
9:21 p.m. — Scramble at the side of the net but Levi makes the stop and then recovers to make a stop on a shot from the top of the circles.
9:17 p.m. — Again, nothing big happening. Canada has five shots to the Czech’s two with nine minutes remaining in the final frame.
9:04 p.m. — Kaiden Guhle steps up and hits Stanislav Svozil up high and there’s no call. Svozil, by the way, is considered to be a top prospect for the 2021 draft.
8:58 p.m. — Third period is underway and 11 seconds in, McMichael has a good chance but hits Nick Malik in the crest.
Second period: Canada 2, Czech Republic 0
8:40 p.m. — Second period ends and both teams now have 18 shots on net. Canada outshot the Czech 10-6 in the middle frame.
8:38 p.m. — After a turnover, Czechs break in and Peyton Krebs with a fantastic backcheck to break up the pass across that would have surely lead to a scoring chance in the slot.
8:34 p.m. — In case you didn’t know: Bowen Byram is really good.
8:28 p.m. — Lang with a rifle from the right circle bit Levi makes the stop although he did look around after.
8:26 p..m. — Not much action.
8:21 pm. — Halfway through the second period and the Canadians have six shots to the Czechs one.
8:19 p.m. — Byram hits the crossbar. Note: Byram was listed on Colorado’s training camp roster that was released on Saturday.
8:16 p.m. — On the backcheck, Teply goes hard into Malik and he is shaken but stays in the game.
8:11 p.m. — Czechs call timeout as they iced the puck with tired players.
8:07 p.m. — Justin Barron had a chance but his shot went wide as Malik was leaning the other wide.
8:06 p.m. — Not much consistency thus far in this period. Jamie Drysdale had the best chance for the Canadians on a slapshot from the point that Malik steered to the corner with his blocker.
8:02 p.m. — Puck has been dropped on the second period.
First period: Canada 2, Czech Republic 0
7:44 p.m. — First period comes to an end.
- Czech Republic outshot Canada 12-8 and at one point went on a 9-0 run. It marked just the third period in the tournament where Canada was outshot and allowed double-digits shots against. Through the four preliminary games, the Canadians allowed 13 shots on goal in the first period combined.
- Cozens goal is his seventh of the tournament and 21st point at world juniors all time. He takes solo possession of sixth place (John Tavares) on Canada’s all-time points list.
- Byram, the other goal scorer, lead the way with 8:31 of ice time and 11 total shifts.
7:39 p.m. — Jan Mysak with a scoring chance from the right circle. Then it’s Pavel Novak off the faceoff. Czechs have 11 shots on net. It’s the most Levi’s seen in the first period of any game and just the third frame he’s seen double-digits.
7:27 p.m. — GOAL. Just four seconds after the power play ends (and they got four shots on goal) Bowen Byram — can you say: walks the line if it’s the circles? — fires the wrister from the right circle right through the hole under Malik’s arm. Byram’s first of the tournament. Canada leads 2-0.
7:24 p.m. — Raska takes a penalty and gives Canada its first power play of the game.
7:23 p.m. — Looks like the captain called this as he tweeted it about a minute before Cozens scored.
7:22 p.m. — GOAL. Connor McMichael with a chip over the Czech defense and springs Dylan Cozens on a breakaway. It looks like Malik has the puck in his glove but it squeaks into the net. Canada leads 1-0.
7:17 p.m. — Braden Schneider takes a hard hit in the neutral zone from Adam Raska and doesn’t seem to be uber comfy on the bench.
7:15 p.m. — Great shot by the trailer Simon Kubicek from the left circle that Levi stops.
7:14 p.m. — Devon Levi faces a shot from the point and gives up a big rebound thinking he had it in his chest but thankfully no Czechs around.
7:10 p.m. — Dylan Cozens all alone in front, on the doorstep, but Nick Malik just makes the save. Canada coming close although the shot clock is at one so…
7:08 p.m. — Game on and within 15 seconds Canada gets their first solid chance as the puck slides between the pads off the Czech defender.
6:55 p.m. — Drake music > Drake curse
6:29 p.m. — Alex Newhook is officially out of the lineup. Looks like Nick Malik in between the pipes for the Czechs.
Lines for Canada vs. Czech Republic: Notably, Alex Newhook (COL) will not play tonight for Canada. Czechs are also shorthanded tonight. pic.twitter.com/6jj5u8LHFi
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) January 2, 2021
5:53 p.m. — Quarterfinal drip.
5:30 p.m. — Moms are the best.
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