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Canada leads Czechs 3-0 after two periods

by Mike G. Morreale /

EDMONTON -- The Canadian National Junior Team got goals from Ryan Strome and Brett Connolly in the second period to open a 3-0 lead on the Czech Republic through 40 minutes in preliminary-round play of Group B of the 2012 World Junior Championship at Rexall Place.

Strome, property of the New York Islanders, gave Canada a 2-0 lead with 3:44 remaining when he took a pass from Freddie Hamilton low in the left circle before sweeping home his second of the tournament with his team on the power play. Goalie Scott Wedgewood earned an assist on the play when launched a pass to Hamilton from his end to the Czech blue line. Hamilton's attempt was denied at the right post but he alertly gathered the puck to set up the Strome goal.

Connolly's second of the tournament at 18:11 was a thing of beauty. He skated towards the net and took a shot that initially rang off the left post. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect somehow managed to get his stick on the floating puck just before crossing the end line and tuck in the rebound.

Canada held a 27-20 advantage in shots through 40 minutes.

Mark Stone gave the Canadians a 1-0 lead with his fourth goal of the tournament in the opening period. The goal was typical Stone, as he gained position in the slot and jammed home a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau at 5:37. Stone had four of Canada's first nine goals in the tournament.

Stone missed an opportunity to put his team ahead by two when he was denied by Czech goalie Petr Mrazek on a penalty shot with 37.2 seconds left in the first. Stone got his chance after Czech defenseman Jiri Riha closed hand on puck in the crease following an initial save by Mrazek.

Stone attempted to go to his forehand from in tight but Mrazek closed the pads and stopped the attempt. He promptly pumped his arms in celebration after keeping his team within striking distance -- prompting plenty of boos from the Canadian faithful.

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