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Canada continues to impress with 5-0 beat down of the Czech Republic
After easily defeating the highly touted Finns on Boxing Day, the Canadian juniors turned their focus to the talented and always dangerous Czech Republic team as they squared up for their matchup on Wednesday night in Edmonton. The Czech’s who were fresh off of a big victory over Denmark, quickly found themselves outmatched by the superior talent of the Canadian roster.
Calgary - December 29, 2011 - After easily defeating the highly touted Finns on Boxing Day, the Canadian juniors turned their focus to the talented and always dangerous Czech Republic team as they squared up for their matchup on Wednesday night in Edmonton. The Czech’s who were fresh off of a big victory over Denmark, quickly found themselves outmatched by the superior talent of the Canadian roster as they subsequently dropped a hard fought sixty minutes of hockey by a 5-0 margin.
Canadian head coach Don Hay made the decision to go with Scott Wedgewood between the pipes while electing to sit what everyone believed to be the consensus starter in Mark Visentin. By doing so it certainly leads one to believe that the #1 goalie spot for the team in the medal rounds is still up for grabs at this moment in time. It did not take long however for Canadians to get on the board as Mark Stone continued his incredible play as he notched his fourth goal of the tournament just five and a half minutes into the opening frame. In what was seemingly identical to Stone’s hat trick goals in his first outing, Mark took a Jonathan Huberdeau feed from the side of the net before depositing the puck into the yawning 4x6 frame. Moments before the first period drew to a close, a penalty shot was rewarded to the Canadians as a Czech defender was caught covering the puck with his glove in the goal crease. Unfortunately goaltender Petr Mrazek was up to the test as he stopped Mark Stone’s bid for his fifth goal in two games.
The Czech Republic did a great job at keeping their composure after the home crowd was ignited and they managed to keep the score within reach as the period ended with the Canadians managing to produce 16 shots on net.
As the Canadians continued to push in the second period, the visitors began to lose their composure and as a result they were issued four infractions within twelve minutes of play. The Canadians struggled on their early power play opportunities as they tried to be far to fancy in front of the electric Edmonton crowd, but as expected they found a way to adapt their game plan. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood caught the Czechs making a sloppy line change and made a heads up play to spot forward Freddie Hamilton up ice as he was sprung on a breakaway. A good back check by David Musil forced Hamilton to lose possession of the puck as he attempted to make a shot, Hamilton did not give up on the play as he pursued the puck and centered it for a charging Ryan Strome who potted his second goal of the tournament from the slot. Canada carried that momentum as Brett Connolly scored a highlight reel goal just two minutes later as he dangled past both the defense and goaltender of the Czechs before putting his team up by three goals heading into the final frame.
The penalties kept on coming for both clubs as nine infractions were called in the third period alone. Montreal prospect Nathan Beaulieu received a ten minute major for a hit to the head with less than two minutes remaining on the game clock which ended his night a little early. Mark Scheifele scored two third period goals as his linemate from Barrie Tanner Pearson set him up twice to put the game out of reach. At the end of the night it was an expected result as the Canadians controlled the game from the drop of the puck as Scott Wedgewood proved to put in a steady performance by stopping all twenty six shots fired his way on the night while earning the shutout. Canada will not have a whole lot of time to rest as they get set to face off against Denmark tomorrow night in Edmonton.
It was not all good news for the team on this day as it was announced that rugged forward Devante Smith-Pelley will miss the remainder of the tournament with a fracture in his foot after he blocked a point shot in opening game against Finland. His presence will be greatly missed and impossible to replicate but the team must rely upon each and every one of their remaining players to step up in an increased role as they move forward in the round robin games and on to the medal rounds.
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