Canada finishes first in group with 7-2 win

Canada scored five goals with the power play, including four straight in the first period en route to a convincing 7-2 victory over the Czech Republic on Tuesday evening at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
The Canadian Press

Canada scored five goals with the power play, including four straight in the first period en route to a convincing 7-2 victory over the Czech Republic on Tuesday evening at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Canada (3-1-0) therefore completes the preliminary streak in first place in Group B with nine points, one more than the United States. In the quarterfinals Thursday, the Canadians face Slovakia, fourth in Group A.

With its victory over the Americans in the tournament’s very first game the day after Christmas, Canada could also climb to the top of the group standings with a win in overtime or shootout.

Captain Barrett Hayton and Dylan Cozens led the way with one goal and three assists each. They received support from Joe Veleno (1-2), Ty Smith (0-2) and Calen Addison (0-2).

Connor McMichael, Nolan Foote, Liam Foudy and Jared McIsaac scored other goals for Canada.

Canada’s four power play goals in the first twenty allowed it to equal a tournament record, established by Czechoslovakia in 1988 and the United States in 2013.

The Czech Republic’s response came in a 14-second interval halfway through the second period, thanks to goals from Vojtech Strondala and Libor Zabransky against Joel Hofer.

These two goals sowed hope among Czech fans who saw their favorites reduce Canada’s lead to 4-2. It was a fleeting joy, however.

Foudy, ten seconds after the locals ‘second goal, and Cozens, 56 seconds later, quickly restored the Canadiens’ two-goal cushion. The Czech Republic (1-2-1) did not recover.

This defeat leaves them in fourth place in Group B, and against a meeting against Sweden in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

A defeat in regulation time could have had negative consequences for the Dale Hunter troop. She would then have finished fourth in Group B and would have faced Sweden in the quarterfinals. However, the young Canadian skaters, still deprived of the ace Alexis Lafrenière, quickly showed their colors.

Veleno opened the scoring at 4:41 of the first twenty, and Foote doubled Canada’s lead just over five minutes later. Hayton, at 13:29, and McMichael, 61 seconds later, took advantage of numerical superiorities to outsmart Lukas Parik.

The latter then gave up his place to Nick Malik after having been the victim of four goals on only nine shots.

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