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Stone continues torrid pace for Canada

by Mike G. Morreale
EDMONTON -- Mark Stone scored his team-leading fourth goal of the 2012 World Junior Championship to give Team Canada a 1-0 lead against the Czech Republic in preliminary round play of Group B at Rexall Place.
The goal was typical for Stone, as he gained position in the slot and jammed home a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau at 5:37. Stone has four of Canada's 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 just 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.
Despite giving up the goal, the Czechs did play a solid 20 minutes. The club came out physical and played at a high tempo -- something it will need to continue if it is to have any chance against the prohibitive favorite.
Canada goalie Scott Wedgewood, who is making his first start in a WJC game, turned aside 10 shots. The New Jersey Devils prospect also received plenty of defensive support, particularly when the Czechs were on the power play. In a 7-1 victory against Denmark on Tuesday, the Czech Republic finished 3-for-4 with the man advantage. The club went 0-for-2 in the first against Canada as Wedgewood and defensemen Scott Harrington, Brandon Gormley, Ryan Murray and Dougie Hamilton did a superb job.
Mrazek, who is making his second straight start between the pipes, turned aside 14 shots.

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