Edmonton, AB - Following an 11-3 loss one night ago to the United States, Denmark returned to action Tuesday night, challenging Oilers prospect David Musil in the Czech Republic's tournament opener.
Tonight's contest didn't go as planned, either.
Much like the US' eight-goal dismantling 24 hours prior, their opponent took control at puck drop, notching the icebreaker at 5:44 when Jakub Culek delivered a well-placed slap-pass on the doorstep to Tomas Hertl; the winger made no mistake, tipping the puck past a surprised Sebastian Feuk to make it 1-0.
Denmark was given a chance to get back in the game when penalties to Jiri Riha and Bohumil Jank put the home side down in a 5-on-3 situation, but the opportunity passed without a shot.
It was all that was required, as the Czechs headed to the locker room with a slim 1-0 edge, a commanding 16-2 lead in shots, and an unrelenting wave of momentum that carried into the middle period.
Hertl notched his second of the night 2:44 in when he curled behind the goal line, sliding a shot along the ice and banking it in off the cheating netminder to establish a daunting two-goal advantage.
With the game in hand and a even greater margin to overcome on the shot clock (31-7), the Czechs buried the Danes with a late-period marker and four more in the third to capture the win's three points.
"We're happy this game went the way it went," explained Czech Head Coach Miroslav Prerost. "We didn't cash on our chances early, but in the third period we got a couple lucky bounces and scored some goals.
"Denmark played a tough game last night, so I'm sure it took a little toll on them and tomorrow we expect a challenge. We watched the game against Finland and [Canada] dominated, so we've got to be prepared."
Musil represented well in his World Junior debut, recording a +2 rating and two shots in the win. Although he was unable to register a point, it was stable outing with calm, calculated breakout passes and own-zone positioning.
"He's a very smart, determined, defensively-mind guy that plays extremely hard in the D zone and has great hockey sense," Prerost said. "Every time he's under pressure, he never panics and seems to make good plays. His dad (Frank, ex-player and current Oilers scout) gave him good genes and taught him very well.
"Structure, as far as details in the game, he's ahead of his peers."
It's become Musil's calling card, which is somewhat unexpected given the WHL's high pace and goal-scoring rhythm. It's that league where he's been able to amass one goal and 16 points this season with the Vancouver Giants.
"I think I played pretty well," Musil said, looking back on the 7-0 win. "I didn't get scored on, so that's a positive. I could have been better, but I did what I had to do.
"That was a big turning point for us, too," he added, recapping his squad's 5-on-3-penalty kill in the opening period. "It wasn't the greatest start, but we stuck with it and scored a couple to get the ball rolling."
Having grown up in an environment entrenched with sticks and pucks, he couldn't help but smile knowing he had played such a pivotal game on Rexall Place ice; there are more to come, no doubt.
Now he's prepared for tomorrow's clash with the Canadians.
"They're a hard-nosed team and they like to go the net," he said, regarding Team Canada's game and quick start to the tournament. "They played hard, so we've got the stick with what we've been doing and play as a team."