Hajek, Libor

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship: 12-30-17

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Czech Republic 6 vs Belarus 5

D Libor Hajek, CZE: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament Totals: 2 GP, 0-2-2, +1, 4 PIM, 3 SOG

Hajek had a goal and an assist in the Czech Republic’s comeback victory against a spirited Belarus squad, and then called out his team in the post-game media for selfish and individual play.

Belarus opened the scoring in the first with a power play goal, and then just after the midpoint of the period, Daniel Kurovsky (undrafted) was given a 5-minute major and a 20-minute game misconduct for slashing defenseman Vladislav Gabrus (undrafted) in the groin. And while the Belarusians couldn’t capitalize on the resulting 5-minute power play, they did strike for the 2-0 lead just 48 seconds into the 2nd period, precipitating a goalie change in the Czech nets. The goalie change had its intended effect on the Czech skaters with Radovan Pavlik (undrafted) tallying the first of his two goals just 43 seconds after the goalie switch, followed by Hajek’s equalizer on a wrister from the high slot just 24 seconds after Pavlik’s goal.

The Czechs would put up three more goals in the 2nd period to take a 5-2 lead, the first being a power play marker from Halifax winger and top 2018 draft prospect Filip Zadina, then Hajek assisting on a Filip Chytil (NYR, 2017 1st round pick) goal, and finally Pavlik’s 2nd marker that resulted in a Belarussian goalie change.

Like the Czechs, the change in goal spurred Belarus offensively with Yegor Sharangovich (undrafted) netting his 2nd goal of the game, a power play score with just 75 seconds left in the 2nd period to cut the Czech lead to 5-3 going into the final frame. But the Czechs weren’t done with the undisciplined play, as Pavlik earned a 10-minute misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct when he fired a shot into the Belarus net after the whistle for an icing call. Belarus cut the lead to 5-4 on the ensuing power play, but the Czech Republic reestablished the two goal lead with strike from Sherbrooke winger Marek Zachar (undrafted). Belarus tallied the false hope goal about 90 seconds later when defenseman Gabrus came back from the 1st period slash to the groin to score for Belarus, but they would get no closer.

The Czech Republic plays their final preliminary round match on New Year’s Eve against the Swiss team, looking to undergird their quarterfinal seed with a single loss to Sweden.

Denmark 0 vs Canada 8

F Taylor Raddysh , CAN: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament Totals: 4 GP, 2-2-4, +4, 2 PIM, 10 SOG

F Boris Katchouk, CAN: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament Totals: 3 GP, 2-2-4, +4, 2 PIM, 9 SOG

F Brett Howden , CAN: 2-0-2, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, *Player of the Game*
Tournament Totals: 4 GP, 2-0-2, +3, 4 PIM, 9 SOG

D Cal Foote, CAN: 0-3-3, +4, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament Totals: 4 GP, 0-3-3, +5, 0 PIM, 1 SOG

Brett Howden (pictured) scored twice in Canada’s rout of the Danish WJC squad en route to Player of the Game honors for the Canadian team. Canada fired 44 shots at Denmark netminder Emil Gransoe (undrafted), putting up the snowman on the scoreboard. Cal Foote notched assists on both of Howden’s goals, giving Lightning fans a preview of a possible Tampa Bay future, along with a third assist on Drake Batherson’s (OTT, 2017 4th round pick) third period power play marker. Raddysh and Katchouk both assisted on the game’s opening goal by Robert Thomas (STL, 2017 1st round pick). Katchouk won a battle on the half wall and shoveled the puck behind the goal to Raddysh, who fed Thomas cutting to the Danish net. The stats lines for Raddysh and Katchouk are nearly identical in four games thus far, and the pair have had obvious chemistry since the beginning of the tournament, and no doubt Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds GM Kyle Raftis is paying attention amid continued rumors that the rebuilding Erie Otters is looking to move Raddysh by the OHL trade deadline.

Canada has completed preliminary play, winning Group A with a record of 3-0-1-0 and will most likely draw the Swiss squad in the quarterfinals on January 2nd.

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship: 12-28-17

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Sweden 3 vs Czech Republic 1

D Libor Hajek, CZE: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament Totals: 2 GP, 0-2-2, +1, 4 PIM, 3 SOG

Hajek led all Czech blueliners in ice time with 21:28, and assisted on the team’s only goal against the Swedes, a power-play tally by Otto Somppi’s linemate at Halifax, Filip Zadina (2018 draft eligible). The goal drew the Czechs within one, but the Swedes scored two power-play goals of their own. Hajek’s ice time was eclipsed only by Zadina and the Hurricanes 2017 12th overall pick Martin Necas. The Czech Republic next plays Belarus on Saturday.

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship: 12-26-17

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Czech Republic 5 vs Russia 4

D Libor Hajek, CZE: 0-1-1, +1, 4 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament Totals: 0-1-1, +1, 4 PIM, 2 SOG

A late rally by the Russian WJC squad fell short as the Czech Republic team held on for a 5-4 victory in the tournament opening match. Hajek started the game and played a whopping 9:24 in the first, leading all skaters by a wide margin. Hajek assisted on Ostap Safin’s (EDM, 2017 4th round pick) goal in the 1st to pull the Czechs ahead 2-1. Despite leading all blueliners in ice time along with Filip Kral (2018 draft eligible), Hajek’s ice time fell off as the game went along, getting just 5:32 in the 3rd. After the Czechs scored three straight, Russia scored twice in the last 2:12 of the game to pull within one, but couldn’t put the equalizer past Josef Korenar (undrafted), who stopped 34 of 38 Russian shots. The Czech Republic were paced by four skaters each with a goal and an assist, including Otto Somppi’s Halifax linemate Filip Zadina (2018 draft eligible), and by three assists from Martin Kaut (2018 draft eligible). The Czech Republic next plays Thursday against the Swedish squad, who easily won their opening match 6-1 against Belarus.

In somewhat of a surprise, Bolt prospect Alexey Lipanov was among the last to be cut from the Russian WJC team, and won’t be in the lineup for the Russians for this tournament.

Canada 4 vs Finland 2

F Taylor Raddysh , CAN: 1-1-2, +2, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament Totals: 1-1-2, +2, 2 PIM, 3 SOG

F Boris Katchouk, CAN: 1-1-2, +2, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament Totals: 1-1-2, +2, 2 PIM, 2 SOG

F Brett Howden , CAN: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament Totals: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG

D Cal Foote, CAN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament Totals: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG

Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk led the Canadian WJC team to its tournament opening 4-2 victory over Finland. Both Raddysh and Katchouk each had a goal and an assist, and Carter Hart (PHI, 2016 2nd round pick) backstopped 29 saves on 31 Finnish shots. Katchouk opened the scoring just 5:34 into the match on a controversial goal when he streaked in alone on Finnish netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, with the puck trickling over the line as the net was coming unmoored after a collision between the two players. The goal was ruled good after a review by the officials. Less than 30 seconds later, with the Canadians on the power play, Raddysh took a feed in front of the net from Jordan Kyrou (2018 draft eligible) and spun to jam the puck past Luukkonen, but a pad save popped the puck to the stick of Sam Steel (ANA, 2016 1st round pick), who rifled it into the open net. Later in the 2nd period, Katchouk attempted to feed Raddysh off the rush, but the play was broken up but Raddysh was able to collect the loose puck and spun and ripped a wrist shot from the top of the circles past Luukkonen.

One might look at Cal Foote’s blank stat line and only 12:55 in ice time and think he had minimal impact, but he had most spectacular play of the game when he dove behind Hart to swipe the puck off the goal line with his hand to save a goal and keep the Canadian lead at 4-2. The Canadians play next on Wednesday in Slovakia’s opening tournament match.

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship: 12-22-17

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Canada 8 vs Switzerland 1 (Pre-Tournament Exhibition)

F Taylor Raddysh , CAN: 0-0-0
Tournament Totals: ---

F Boris Katchouk, CAN: 0-1-1
Tournament Totals: ---

F Brett Howden , CAN: 0-0-0
Tournament Totals: ---

D Cal Foote, CAN: 0-0-0
Tournament Totals: ---

Canada completed its two-game WJC pre-tournament exhibition with an 8-1 victory over the Swiss squad at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ont. Dillon Dube (CGY, 2016 2nd round pick) and current WHL goal-scoring leader Tyler Steenbergen (ARI, 2017 5th round pick) paced the Canadians with each a pair of goals. Current OHL points leader Jordan Kyrou (STL, 2016 2nd round pick) scored and added a couple of assists, as Canada pelted the Swiss goalie tandem of Philip Wuthrich (undrafted) and Matteo Ritz (undrafted) with a staggering 61 shots. Canada’s stifling defense allowed a total of just 7 shots for the entire game. Katchouk was the lone Bolt prospect to hit the scoreboard, assisting on a Jake Bean (CAR, 2016 1st round pick) marker in the 2nd period. The Canadians got out to a 3-0 lead before Guillaume Maillard (undrafted) scored for the Swiss. Canada opens tournament play on Boxing Day against the Finnish team the 2018 WJC tournament site in Buffalo, NY.

Libor Hajek made the Czech Republic WJC team, and opens against the Russian squad as the first game on Boxing Day. Bolt prospect Alexey Lipanov is currently with the Russian team in Buffalo, expecting to announce their final roster on Dec 23rd. If Lipanov makes the final roster cut, that will make six total Bolt prospects across three different teams participating in the 2018 World Junior Championship.

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship: 12-20-17

2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Canada 9 @ Czech Republic 0 (Pre-Tournament Exhibition)

F Taylor Raddysh , CAN: 2-2-4
Tournament Totals: ---

F Boris Katchouk, CAN: 1-0-1
Tournament Totals: ---

F Brett Howden , CAN: 0-1-1
Tournament Totals: ---

D Cal Foote, CAN: 1-0-1
Tournament Totals: ---

D Libor Hajek, CZE: 0-0-0
Tournament Totals: ---

Canada’s World Juniors team got its pre-tournament exhibition schedule underway against the Czech Republic WJC team with a 9-0 victory. Taylor Raddysh led the offense with two goals and four points, and Carter Hart (PHI, 2016 2nd round pick) pitched an 18-shot shutout. The Canadians got goals from eight players including Boris Katchouk and Cal Foote, with Brett Howden assisting on Foote’s goal. Robert Thomas (STL, 2017 1st round pick) added a goal and three assists for the Canadians. Libor Hajek, like the rest of the Czech team, was held scoreless in the exhibition match at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. Canada plays one more exhibition match against the Swiss WJC team Friday in Hamilton, Ontario before beginning tournament play on Boxing Day against the Finnish team at the tournament site in Buffalo, NY.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-20-17 Lightning at Hurricanes

Junior Lightning strike back in Carolina.

TB-4
CAR-3

Petr Budaj allowed 2 goals on 20 shots through the first 40 minutes before giving way to Michael Leighton who allowed 1 goal on 12 shots the rest of the way for the back door win.

First Period
6:33 TB Erne, (Brown, Dumont)
12:37 CAR Wallmark, (Lindholm, Necas)(PP)

Second Period
2:29 TB McGinn, (Stephens)
4:28 TB Sergachev, (Point, Conacher)
9:25 CAR Ryan, (Miller, Hanifin)

Third Period
12:02 TB Katchouk, (Cirelli, Howden)
18:24 CAR Aho, (Skinner, Linholm)(PP)

Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli were the game's first and second stars. Nice to see a younger Lightning lineup pull out a game on the road against a Carolina lineup that included more of their first choice players in front of their home crowd. These back-to-back games, if anything, have helped confirm the quality of the Lightning's prospects as many of these players move into their seasons in the junior and minor league ranks.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 4 blocked shots in 19:01.

Boris Katchouk had the GWG and was +1 with 1 shot in 12:52.

Libor Hajek had 1 shot in 17:47.

Brett Howden had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 12:19. He was also 38% on 8 draws.

Cal Foote was -1 with 1 shot and 5 blocked shots in 18:36.

Matthew Peca had 2 shots and 1 hit in 17:28. He was also 43% on 7 draws.

Mitchell Stephens had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 11:10.

Cirelli had a helper and was +1 with 9 penalty minutes, 4 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 16:01. He was also 17% on 6 draws. His penalty minutes game for a brawl started after boarding a Hurricanes opponent.

Adam Erne notched his second of the preseason and was +1 with 3 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:54. It will be tough, waiver eligibility being a concern, for Erne to make the Lightning out of camp. That said, I feel he gives the team a dimension it lacks as a creative power forward and from a pure hockey standpoint, he'd be on my first choice 23-man roster.

Erik Cernak was +3 with 2 shots, 7 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 20:27. The stay-at-homer's dream box score.

Sergachev had a goal and was +3 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 22:16. I'm not shocked. He's the real thing. I don't believe a 30+ point season is a reasonable expectation for Sergachev as a rookie, if he makes the squad, but I do believe he can be a solid minutes eater in his premiere campaign if the team keeps him in Tampa Bay.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-19-17 Hurricanes at Lightning

Junior Lightning nearly pull off comeback against Canes.

CAR-2
TB-1

Michael Leighton allowed 2 goals on 22 shots for the loss. The veteran netminder will enter the season the number one for AHL Syracuse.

First Period
3:46 CAR Williams (1), (Carrick, Teravainen)(PP)

Second Period
4:03 CAR Taravainen (1), (Rask, Carrick)(PP)

Third Period
TB Erne (1), (Peca, Conacher)(PP)

Alexei Lipanov was the game's third star.

It was a choppy game with the flow marred by a lot of penalties, compounded by the discontinuity of two rosters dotted with a lot of youth getting a quick look before guys get returned to junior.

Lipanov was scoreless in 15:42 with 2 shots and was 50% on 4 draws.

Boris Katchouk had 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 2 hits in 13:11.

Libor Hajek had 3 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:57.

Taylor Raddysh had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 13:52.

Cal Foote had 3 shots and 2 blocked shots in 21:56.

Matthew Peca had a helper and 4 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and he was 25% on 12 draws in 17:10. He had a nice setup to Erne for the Lightning's lone goal (that counted) on the evening.

Anthony Cirelli had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot and was 67% on 3 draws in 15:06.

Adam Erne had a goal, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 12:05.

Daniel Walcott had 3 shots and 3 hits in 13:07.

Oleg Sosunov played 16:37.

Alexander Volkov had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 3 hits, and was 60% on 5 draws in 16:38. He had the potential game tying goal waved off for goaltender interference late in the final frame.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-29-17 Crunch at Senators

Roller coaster goes back up.

SYR-6
BNG-1

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the win, making that 2 quality starts in his last 3 outings, by my count. Getting better.

First Period
7:06 BNG Akeson (19), (White, Nehring)(PP)

Second Period
1:02 SYR Peca (11), (Taormina, Thomas)
2:22 SYR Kurtz (4), (Taormina)
15:31 SYR Bournival (7), (unassisted)

Third Period
0:31 SYR Condra (13), (Brodeur, Koekkoek)
10:07 SYR Lynch (4), (Brodeur, Koekkoek)
19:17 SYR Hajek (1), (Richard)

Matt Taormina, Slater Koekkoek, and Mathieu Broduer were the game's three stars, as the Crunch D showed out tonight. That included Libor Hajek notching his first pro goal, as well.

Syracuse moves back into a tie with the Toronto Marlies at 79 points atop the North Division, with Toronto holding a 4 game lead in ROW for the tiebreaker.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Hajek Makes Pro Debut in Crunch's Loss to Penguins


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Libor Hajek hopped over the boards for the first shift roughly 1:20 into the game.

The 19-year-old defenseman described the feeling simply. “Just nervous. That’s it.”

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2016 second round draft pick made his pro debut with the Crunch, but Syracuse was outmatched by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 5-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

“Libor was good. I like the way he skated,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Tough night for him. It’s tough to start your career in a game like this. Overall, I thought he did some good things.”

Bolts Ink Hajek to Entry Level Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Libor Hajek (LEE-bohr, HIGH-ak) to a three-year, two-way entry level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Hajek, 19, skated in 65 games with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League this season, recording four goals and 26 points to go along with 81 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound defenseman ranked second on the Blades for penalty minutes. Hajek also ranked second among all Saskatoon defensemen for assists (22) and points.

The Smrcek, Czech Republic native has appeared in 134 career WHL games, all with Saskatoon over the past two seasons, posting seven goals and 52 points to go along with 157 penalty minutes. He led all Saskatoon rookies for points and assists with 23 during the 2015-16 season. Hajek was selected second overall at the 2015 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

Hajek was originally drafted by the Lightning in the second round, 37th overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft.

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