-- Czech goaltender and Detroit Red Wings prospect Petr Mrazek had a show-stopping performance turning aside 52 shots to help the Czechs to a 5-2 victory to stun the Americans 5-2 at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Friday.
Team Czech Republic and Team USA set the stage for an important afternoon match at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Friday afternoon. Both teams needed the win to secure their spot in the playoff round. It was the Czech's who prevailed in an exciting 5-2 rout over the favoured, Team USA.
The first period was a battle of two desperate teams that saw the Americans outshoot the Czechs 18 - 5. Calgary Flames prospect Bill Arnold set up line mate TJ Tynan to open the scoring five minutes into the frame. The Czechs banished the lead with a tally from Tomas Filippe after killing off their third penalty with eight minutes remaining.
It took 12 minutes in the second period for the deadlock to be broken when Bill Arnold took advantage of their sixth power play of the afternoon to grab the lead.
The lead didn't last long when Czech forward Tomas Hertl capitalized on an American turnover in the offensive zone and threw a backhand over goaltender Jack Campbell's shoulder from the high slot to even the game at two.
The third period saw end-to-end action with both teams trading scoring opportunities before U.S. forward Josh Archibald was awarded a penalty shot at the 12 minute mark. For the second time in the tournament, Czech goalie Petr Mrazek came out on top as he shut the door at a critical time which would have given the Americans a one goal advantage.
Mrazek didn't hide any emotion on the ice clearly drew energy from the crowd who continued to show their support for any team playing the rival Americans. He was very appreciative of the Canadian fans.
"It was unbelievable" Mrazek said, " 15000 people on our side So thank you very much for them."
The Americans continued to pressure with several close calls, but it was the Czechs who found the back of the net first with a crucial go ahead goal with just over seven minutes remaining in the contest. The Americans fate would then be sealed when Czech forward Tomas Filippi netted his second of the game, a back-breaker for the U.S.
The Czechs would add an empty net goal to round out the scoring.
With the loss, the Americans have virtually been eliminated from the playoff round and ensures Canada will receive a bye into the semi-finals, however, they are looking to show that they are a still team to reckon with and are looking forward to the marquis match-up against the Canadians on New Year's Eve.
"We want to win tomorrow. It's going to be a battle," said American Bill Arnold. "By no means are we just going to fold and give up."