Brayden Point was absolutely dominant on Tuesday night, helping Canada skate to a 7-1 win over the Czech Republic at the World Junior Summer Showcase.
Canada was definetly not the stronger team in the first period. Trying to play a more physical game than their opponents, Canada spent a little too much time trying to knock down opposing Czech forwards than creating scoring chances. It led to the Czech’s getting many scoring chances right off the bat, forcing Mackenzie Blackwood to be busy early on. He’d face 10 shots in the first 15 minutes of the game, while Washington Capitals prospect Vitek Vanecek only needed to deflect five away in the early going.
Canada’s lazy attempts to get the puck out of their own zone would end up hurting them. At 11:38 into the opening frame, future Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown struggled to find their place in front of the Canadian net, allowing Filip Chlapik to skate in and fire a quick wrist shot to make it 1-0. It was the second time in two nights that Canada would allow the first goal of the game, seeing the exact same thing happen with their other roster against Russia on Monday night. It was a definetly a slow start for the second Canadian roster, using players that didn’t participate in Monday’s showing.
With 1:15 left in the opening period, Canada found a way to tie the game up at one apiece. Jake Virtanen, a solid power-forward that showed some big skill early in the contest, skated in to the Czech zone before making a quick spin to find Rourke Chartier. The San Jose Sharks prospect was in a perfect position to get a shot on net, firing it from outside the slot to knot it up at one heading into the first intermission.
Canada came out a little stronger in the second, and before the period was even five minutes old, they were able to take the 2-1 lead. Brayden Point, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect who fought his way onto the team last year, was the mastermind behind the play, skating through the offensive zone before sending a quick pass over to Jake Virtanen, who one-timed it into the back of the net to make it 2-1 Canada.
With 5:16 off the score clock in the second, Canada had a two goal advantage. This time, Haydn Fleury took a pass from Travis Konecny along the boards before firing a nifty wrist shot under Vitek Vanecek’s blocker and in to make it 3-1.
Konecny and Point were both having strong nights, dominating the offensive zone every time they got ahold of the puck. Some slick passing between the pair, mixed with some incredible hockey IQ, eventually saw Konecny find Point skating near the doorstep, firing a quick pass over before Point found the back of the net to make it 4-1 Canada with seven minutes to go.
Point’s second period dominance wasn’t complete in the second period. After a pass from Konecny at Canada’s goal line went up the ice, Point skated up the ice before sending the puck over to Brandon Hickey, who tapped the puck in just in front of the net to give Canada the 5-1 lead. Point was used mainly as a bottom six player for Canada last year, but did see some action on the first two lines after injuries played a role near the end. For Tampa Bay, Point’s another young, small, talented forward with a ton of upside in the system, similar to what Tyler Johnson brings to the club already.
Canada’s one-way dominance on the score sheet would continue early in the second. After 4:30 of play, Virtanen got his second of the night after Connor Bleackley found the Canucks prospect streaking before Virtanen ripped it over the glove of Vanecek. With seven minutes to go in the game, Konecny would find Point once again in front of the net, with the Lightning prospect scoring on a gift play to make it 7-1 Canada. It was the final marker in a game that really fell apart for the Czech’s, who would drop a 7-1 decision to Canada to keep the home team undefeated for a second day.
Canada will spend the time before the game tomorrow at 10pm EST time against Russia to determine a roster for the final two games of the mini-tournament. The expectation is that Florida Panthers prospect Samuel Montembeault will man the pipes on Wednesday, a chance for Canada to go 3-0 in their own tournament.
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