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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.