Despite an early scare, Team Canada found a way to beat Czechia 6-3 to open up their World Juniors Tournament. Kamloops Blazer’s goaltender made 14 saves in the win while Buffalo Sabres prospect Owen Power notched a hat trick. Here is a breakdown of the game:
A Gut Punch Early
After Mason McTavish open the scoring for Canada four minutes in, Czechia responded with three quick goals all from WHL players. Everett Silvertips forward Michal Gut got them on the board at 7:42 while Kelowna Rockets forward Pavel Novák doubled their lead with a power play goal at 11:32 of the first. The third goal was scored by Regina Pats defenceman Stanislav Svozil as Czechia took a 3-1 lead.
Putting the Power in Power Play
Canada needed a spark and got one from Power. He scored at 12:43 of the first to make it a 3-2 game before Donovan Sebrango pulled Canada even with 29 seconds left in the period. In the second, Power took over scoring two power play goals to complete the hat trick. The first came off a one-timer at 8:50 of the period while on a five on three. The second came at 10:15 just as the power play was expiring. With the goal, he became the first defenceman to score a hat trick for Canada at the World Juniors.
Olen All, A Strong Finish
With Canada leading 5-3, another defenceman found his name on the scoresheet as it was Everett Silvertips defender Olen Zellweger who buried his first of the tournament at 13:22 of the period.
It was Canada’s third power play goal of the game and fourth goal by a defenceman. Canada wrapped up the 6-4 victory with solid play late in the third and are 1-0 to start the tournament.
Strong Play from WHL Players
The WHL stepped up in this game despite only recording one goal and two assists for Canada.
Players like Connor Bedard, Ronan Seeley, Olen Zellweger, Kaiden Guhle and Justin Sourdif all had impacts on the game, and will be looked upon to make a difference throughout the tournament. Expect WHL players to be leaned upon heavy as Canada take on Austria on Tuesday.
Three Top WHL Players of the Game
Here are the top three WHL players from this game. The players can be from either team, the only
requirement is that they play in the WHL:
Olen Zellweger- Everett Silvertips/ Canada
1 Goal, +1, 3 Shots, 16:56 TOI
Michal Gut- Everett Silvertips/ Czechia
1 Goal, 1 Assist, +1, 1 Shot, 15:58 TOI
Ronan Seeley- Everett Silvertips/ Canada
1 Shot, 16:38 TOI
Canada’s next scheduled game is set for Tuesday, December 28 th at 4:00pm PST versus Austria. This will be both team’s second game of the tournament as Austria is set to play Finland the day before. Look for former Victoria Royals goaltender Sebastian Wraneschitz to play a big role in the game if named the starter.