LAUKO HAS HAT TRICK, FIVE POINTS IN CZECH WIN OVER CANADA WHITE
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Jakub Lauko scored once in every period and added two assists, leading the Czech Republic past Canada White 8-2 in the preliminary-round finale for both teams Tuesday at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
With the win, their first, the Czechs can finish no lower than third place in Group A, while Canada White will wait for the U.S.-Canada Black result later in the day to see where it sits after the round robin.
The Czech Republic came out flying, recording the game’s opening goal 4:28 into the first period when Frantisek Rehak found a loose puck in the middle of a mad scramble just in front of Olivier Rodrigue (Chicoutimi, Que./Drummondville, QMJHL) and snapped it past the Canadian goaltender.
The Czechs continued to apply the pressure, leading to the 2-0 goal; in a shorthanded battle at the Czech blue-line, Tomas Koblizek knocked the puck away from Jett Woo (Winnipeg, Man./Moose Jaw, WHL), sending the defenceman into a footrace with Lauko, who beat Woo to the puck and then beat Rodrigue five-hole.
Canada cut into the lead just a little over a minute later on a two-man advantage. Akil Thomas (Toronto, Ont./Niagara OHL), sitting at the side of the net, knocked a bouncing puck into the empty cage to make it 2-1 after one.
But the momentum shifted to the Czechs in the second period, leading to three goals in just over five minutes.
Karel Plasek started the scoring run with a spin-and-fire move from the high slot, Lauko recorded his second on the power play, blasting a shot past Rodrigue from the top of the circle, and Lauko won a face-off back to Adam Gajarsky, positioned just above the hashmarks, who beat Rodrigue past the blocker.
That was the end for Rodrigue, with Marshall Frappier (Nepean, Ont./Nepean, CCHL) taking over in relief just past the 11-minute mark.
Canada started the third period off strong, cutting the lead down to three when Jonathan Tychonick (Calgary, Alta./Penticton, BCHL) dropped down from the point and dangled around two Czech defenders before dishing to Samuel Houde (Blainville, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL) for the easy tap-in to make it a 5-2 game.
But Lauko and Dominik Arnost hit the empty net in the final minutes, and Arnost added another past Frappier at 18:52 to provide the final margin of victory for the Czechs.
Both teams will now be scoreboard watching, waiting to find out who and when they play in the quarter-finals Thursday.