Preliminary round play at the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championship is starting to get into high gear, and that was none more evident than a dramatic game between the Canadians and Czechs today in Malmo, Sweden.
The Czech Republic, always a pesky team in the international tournaments, found a way to take the lead in the third period but found themselves even at 4-4 with Canada headed to overtime. The extra session solved nothing so it was resolved in a shootout, and it was Dominik Simon tallying the (gorgeous) winning goal in the shootout to give the Czechs a 5-4 upset win.
It was Canada coach Brent Sutter's first loss in World Junior competition. He had won the previous 13 games behind the bench of the Canadian national junior team - quite the impressive run despite the stacked teams that Canada brings to the tournament. The Czech Republic, now 1-1 in the tournament after a bounce-back win today, faces Germany on Monday and the Canadians will next play Slovakia (and Blue Jackets prospect Marko Dano), also on Monday.
Now, for some updates on Blue Jackets prospects in action today...
- Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson were held scoreless in Canada's 5-4 shootout loss but both players have managed to make a physical impact on the Olympic-sized ice. Anderson has one goal in the tournament, which was the 1-1 goal in Canada's win over Germany in the tournament opener.
- Big day for Alexander Wennberg in Sweden's 4-2 win over Finland. The building was rocking in Malmo (once again) for the home country, and the Swedes were terrific in picking up their second win of the tournament. Wennberg - part of a line that was used a lot today - picked up two goals and an assist and was named Sweden's player of the game. His second goal was a big one, giving Sweden a 4-2 lead early in the third period.
- Oscar Dansk wasn't as busy today as he was in Sweden's first game of the tournament, but he was good when called upon. He made 18 saves against Finland his best sequence came in the first period when Sweden started parading to the penalty box; Dansk made a big stop from point-blank range, and at the other end of the ice (seconds later), Sweden forward Oscar Sundqvist nearly cashed in with a shorthanded goal.
- Marko Dano's best chance of the day was a shorthanded breakaway in the third period, but he could not convert in what was a frustrating game for the Slovaks. They were very much in it with the United States until an unraveling in the third period, giving up three goals in the final 20 minutes and were guilty of some poor puck decisions along the way. Slovakia, now 1-1, next plays Canada.