Czechs Complete Canadian Upset to Move On at U18’s

Czechs Complete Canadian Upset to Move On at U18’s

Steven Ellis26 Apr 2018Steven Ellis»
 

Eight months after losing to Canada at the 2017 Hlinka Memorial Tournament on home ice, the Czech Republic has defeated their North American rivals 2-1 in one of the biggest upsets in recent World Under-18 Hockey Championship history.

 
 
 
 

Eight months after losing to Canada at the 2017 Hlinka Memorial Tournament on home ice, the Czech Republic has defeated their North American rivals 2-1 in one of the biggest upsets in recent World Under-18 Hockey Championship history.

Canada may have been the better team on paper and may have shown to be stronger throughout most of the game, but the Czechs still managed to lead the game after 40 minutes of play. Matej Blumel would get the game going at 11:30 when a turnover in the neutral zone allowed Petr Cajka to get ahold of the puck heading towards the net. Cajka would saucer a pass over to Blumel on the two-on-one, with Blumel firing one over Olivier Rodrigue to make it 1-0.

The rest of the game was dominated by great goaltending, especially by Lukas Dostal. The top-ranked European goaltender heading into the draft, Dostal had 19 saves in the first 40 minutes as Canada peppered him for action, with many big saves along the way, Rodrigue was a bit busier, making 23 saves as he tried to keep Canada in the lead heading into the stretch run.

For Canada, the game was not to their liking. They had finished first in Group A action during the round robin, while the Czechs started the tournament with a crushing blow by their rivals from Slovakia. So when Petr Cajka got the second goal of the game for the Czechs, this time on the power play, it was clear that Canada came out flat and needed a late-game miracle to overcome the deficit. 

But with just over five minutes to go, Canada got started. After Jan Jeniuk and Matej Pekar collided in the defensive zone, Canada used the extra ice to move the puck around to their liking. Eventually, Allan McShane set up Ty Dellandrea in front of the net, with the potential first-round forward beating Dostal blocker side to make it 2-1. Canada had a few chances after that, but Dostal kept his team in the game to pull off the major upset, a 2-1 victory over the top-seeded Canadians.

It was a big loss for Canada, who showed very few weak links throughout the tournament. For the Czechs, it was their second victory of the tournament after previously beating France, a team that failed to record a victory prior to the relegation round. The Czechs will play for their first medal since 2014 when they won silver, and are looking for their fifth medal at the tournament, period. They'll meet up with the United States, who have won seven of the past nine Under-18 tournaments and have come alive in the past few days.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL. 

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