GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. CZECHIA (DEC. 26)
TV: TSN | Radio: TSN Radio | Stream: TSN Direct
It’s Boxing Day, which means the start of preliminary-round play at the
IIHF World Junior Championship! Canada’s National Junior Team gets its
quest for a 19th gold medal started against Czechia.
Canada had a dominant start in its lone pre-tournament game on Thursday
night, scoring four goals in the first period and riding that lead to a 6-4 win over Russia. Mason McTavish led Canada with two goals—including the
opening goal and the game-winner—and added an assist on Kent Johnson’s goal
in the first period. Ridly Greig, Lukas Cormier and Connor Bedard also
found the back of the net for the Canadians.
Czechia was originally planned to play Switzerland in pre-tournament
action, but the game was cancelled just hours before puck drop due to
The two teams faced off in a quarterfinal showdown in Edmonton almost one
year ago, and a strong first period from Canada led to
a 3-0 victory. Connor McMichael opened and closed the scoring, sandwiched around a Bowen
Byram goal, and Devon Levi stopped all shots he faced for his second
shutout of the tournament.
WHAT TO WATCH
Despite its strong start, Canada ran into penalty trouble in the second
period, giving the Russians four power plays during the middle frame.
Russia capitalized twice with the man advantage and made things
interesting. Look for Canada to try to clean up its game as the preliminary
round begins. Up front, Canada’s second line of McTavish, Johnson and
Mavrik Bourque had an excellent showing, combining for seven points against
the Russians. Look for that trio to be key against the Czechs.
Although Czechia did not have an opportunity to play a pre-tournament game,
it will have seven returning players back from 2021. Included in that group
are captain Jan Mysak and Pavel Novak, who were two of the top three scores
for the Czechs last year (Mysak notched two goals and assist, Novak
registered one goal and two assists). Look for Czechia to rely on Mysak,
Novak and Michal Gut to try to spark the offence as its World Juniors
As of November 2021, the Czech Ice Hockey Association will be using the
one-word name “Česko” (Czechia) on its jerseys instead of the Czech
Republic. The change will affect all men’s, women’s, youth and para ice
hockey teams except for the Olympic and Paralympic tournaments.
The Czech cabinet officially approved the name Czechia in April 2014, three
years after the country’s president, Milos Zeman, recommended a wider use
of the name that was first adopted in 1993.
A LOOK BACK
As Czechoslovakia (1977-92), the Czech/Slovak Republics (1993) and Czech
Republic (1994-present), the Canadians have faced the Czechs 36 times since
the first IIHF World Junior Championship in 1977, fashioning a 21-7-8
Against the Czech Republic (now Czechia), Canada has lost just a single
game in 19 tries since 1994, and none in regulation time. That includes the
aforementioned quarterfinal win last year,
a 7-2 semifinal victory in 2018, and
a 5-3 quarterfinal triumph a year earlier.
All-time record: Canada leads 17-1-2 (Czechia leads 1-0 in
Canada goals: 97
Czechia goals: 33