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Czechs, Russians tied 1-1 after two

by Mike G. Morreale
CALGARY -- The Czech Republic Junior National Team is giving Russia -- the defending World Junior Championship gold medalist -- all they can handle through two periods of quarterfinal-round action at Scotiabank Saddledome.
After being outshot, 16-5, during a scoreless first period, the Czechs earned the territorial advantage for much of the second when each team connected for a goal. The clubs enter the second intermission in a 1-1 tie. The winner will face Team Canada in the WJC semifinal round slated for Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
Russia, which was outshot, 15-9, in the second, pulled even on its third shot of the period when Danil Apalkov ripped one from the left circle that zipped over Petr Mrazek's right pad at the 12:47 mark.
The Czechs had taken a 1-0 lead 7:16 into the second when Tomas Hertl sent a nifty backhand pass across the crease to Jakub Culek, who stuffed his attempt home past goalie Andrei Vailevski.
Petr Straka barely missed giving the underdogs a two-goal lead midway through the period when his quick wrist shot from the right hash was denied by Vasilevski. The Russian goalie would then stop Daniel Krejci less than a minute later on another left pad save off a backhander from in close.
Mrazek would atone for allowing his 12th goal in five games by stoning Apalkov on the doorstep with 3:18 remaining in the second and then Yaroslav Kosov off a 2-on-1 with an incredible left-pad denial at the post a little over a minute later.
Mrazek turned aside 16 shots and survived a pair of breakaway attempts by captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov in the opening period. Mrazek, property of the Detroit Red Wings, has yielded 12 goals on 157 shots in the tournament. He entered Monday's game sporting an impressive 2.75 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
Kuznetsov broke free with 8:40 remaining in the first but Mrazek got a blocker on the shot. The Russian captain and lone returnee from last year's gold medal-winning team was sent in alone less than two minutes later only to have his backhand attempt from in tight skid across the crease with the goalie spread eagle in the paint.
The Russians were given the only power-play of the period at the 5:30 mark when Jiri Riha was whistled for slashing, but the Czechs survived unscathed. Russia's Nail Yakupov, who could be selected No. 1 overall in the 2012 Draft, had a good opportunity turned away by Mrazek with less than 15 seconds remaining in the period.
Returning to the lineup for Russia following a one-game absence was Mikhail Grigorenko.
Grigorenko suffered an ankle injury on Thursday when he collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija in the early stages of the second period of an eventual 14-0 victory. The 2012 Draft- eligible forward entered the game having scored 2 goals and 4 points in three games for his country.

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