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Czechs top host Finns at U-18 Worlds

by Staff

Jakub Vrana, a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft, had one goal in regulation and scored the deciding goal in the shootout as Czech Republic beat Finland 4-3 on Monday in preliminary-round play at the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

Vrana, who plays for Linkoping in the Swedish Hockey League, is No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters for the 2014 draft.

Vaclav Karabacek, who plays for Gatineau in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and is No. 41 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, also had a goal in the game, which was played at Lappeenranta Arena in Lappeenranta, Finland.

Antti Kalapudas had a goal and an assist for Finland. He plays for Karpat's team in Finland's junior league, and Central Scouting ranked him No. 32 among European skaters.

The Czechs took a 3-2 lead on Karabacek's goal with 3:21 left in the third, but Kalapudas set up Sami Niku for the tying goal with 1:12 remaining.

After overtime couldn't settle things, Vrana scored on the Czechs' first turn in the shootout, and David Pastrnak, No. 5 on Central Scouting's list of the top European skaters, scored to close the game.

Czech goaltender Vitek Vanecek, ranked No. 8 among European goalies, made 29 saves in regulation and stopped Kalapudas and top-rated European skater Kasperi Kapanen in the shootout.

The loss was host Finland's first, but the point they gained left them in first place in Group B, one point ahead of Switzerland and the United States. The Czechs are fourth with five points.

"We talked to each other about it before the game, that we needed to go aggressively to the net and do a lot of forechecking," Vrana told the IIHF website. "I think we did a good job in the end, though we stopped playing as hard in the third and we gave up a few unlucky goals."

The Czechs finish preliminary-round play Tuesday against Switzerland. Finland plays the U.S. on Tuesday.

In other action Monday:

Russia 5, Germany 2 -- Kiril Pilipenko's power-play goal with 4:01 left in the first period snapped a 2-2 tie as Russia scored the game's final three goals in a preliminary-round game played at Imatra Arena in Imatra, Finland.

Evgeni Svechnikov had two goals and an assist, and Ivan Nikolishin had a goal and two assists.

The win sends Russia into the final day of preliminary-round play Tuesday against Canada with a chance to move into first place in Group A with a regulation-time win. Germany closes its opening-round schedule against Sweden.

Sweden 6, Slovakia 2 -- William Nylander, No. 2 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters, had a hat trick and two assists in a game played at Imatra Arena.

Adrian Kempe, No. 6 on Central Scouting's European skater ranking, had three assists, and Axel Holmstrom had a goal and two assists.

Nylander, the son of former NHL star Michael Nylander, set up Gustav Forsling to open the scoring in the first period, then had two goals and an assist in the second. He finished the hat trick with a 5-on-3 goal at 14:29 of the third.

Slovakia will play the first-place team in Group B in the quarterfinals. Sweden faces Germany on Tuesday in its final preliminary-round game.

Switzerland 3, Denmark 2 -- Noah Rod, No. 27 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters, scored with 2:10 remaining in regulation in a game played at Lappeenranta Arena to keep the Swiss in contention for the top spot in Group B.

Kevin Fiala, Central Scouting's No. 3 European skater, had a goal and two assists for Switzerland.

Switzerland plays the Czech Republic on Tuesday and enters the final day of preliminary-round play second in Group B, one point behind Finland.

Denmark, which lost all four of its opening-round games and was outscored 25-5, will play Germany in the relegation series.

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