TRURO, N.S. – The Czech Republic has earned a semifinal berth at the World Junior A Challenge hockey tournament.
The Czechs doubled the United States 4-2 at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre on Monday to finish preliminary play in Pool B with a 2-0 record. On Sunday, the Czechs opened with a 5-2 win over Canada West.
Ondrej Chrtek’s second goal of the game with 5:13 left in the third period snapped a 2-2 tie yesterday and lifted the Czech Republic to victory.
Chrtek skated in over the U.S. blueline and moved to his left before floating a screen shot past goaltender Ryan Bischel.
Jan Hladonik of the Czech Republic opened the scoring at 9:55 of the first period, shorthanded, however, Sam Hentges pulled the Americans even with a power-play goal just 15 seconds later.
Chrtek put the Czechs ahead late in the second, as he converted a shorthanded rebound behind Bischel with just 40 seconds left in the frame for a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
In the third, Jack Dugan completed a slick three-way passing play with Clayton Phillips and Blake McLaughlin at 9:37 to knot the game 2-2.
After Chertek’s third-period goal, the Czech’s survived an American power play late in the game. Jack Drury of the U.S. almost tied it with the man-advantage when he had a shot ring off the goal post.
Matyas Zelinger added an empty netter to seal it in the final minute.
Goaltender Adam Brizgala stood tall for the Czechs and made 37 saves, while Bischel stopped 21 shots.
The Czech Republic will have two days off before returning to action for a semifinal on Thursday. The Americans meet Canada West tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Canada East 4 Switzerland 3
Canada East (1-1) picked up its first win on Monday night after Connor MacEachern tipped in the game-winning goal with 6:56 left in the third period in a 4-3 victory over Switzerland (0-1).
The Canadians led 3-1 entering the third before two Swiss goals 59 seconds apart evened the score 3-3.
The line of MacEachern, Derek Dicaire and Colton Kalezic was the difference for Canada East, as it scored all three even-strength goals and combined for seven points – MacEachern and Dicaire had a goal and an assist each, while Kalezic finished with a goal and two helpers.
“We’ve only played together for a few days now, and we just put these lines together, but we really clicked tonight and I thought we all played really well,” MacEachern said. “The whole team bounced back from the game (Sunday) night and we all played great. We’ve really come close as the week has gone on – it’s a great bunch of guys and we have really jelled well together.”
Jack McBain had the other goal for Canada East, while Mathieu Vouillamoz, Julian Mettler and Jeremi Gerber replied for Switzerland.
Canada East goaltender Jett Alexander made 22 saves, while Akira Schmid faced 20 shots in the Swiss net.
Russia 5 Canada East 1
In the late game Sunday, Alexander Romanov and Ivan Morozov each netted two goals for Russia, which held period leads of 2-0 and 4-1.
Grigory Denisenko had the other goal for the winners, who scored twice on the power play and once shorthanded.
“Tonight, if we don’t count the empty-net goal, we gave them three goals with two turnovers and one bad positioning,” said Canada East head coach Patrice Bosch. “I thought we had a close game, I thought we played a great game, we just didn’t score goals when we had the chance. We had the power plays, five-on-five scoring chances, we just didn’t score.”
Nick Campoli had the lone Canada East marker, when his shot from in close hit a stick and beat goaltender Amir Miftakhof over the shoulder.
Canada East goaltender Jett Alexander made 27 saves, while his teammates fired 28 shots at Miftakhof.