Simon's shootout goal wins it
Wild third period as Czechs win 5-4
Indeed, the last time any nation with "Czech" in the name that beat Canada at the U20s was January 4, 1993, when the Czech/Slovak Republic won, 7-4. Since then, Canada has had a record of 12-2-0 in 14 games - until tonight's historic result.
And the hero was Simon, who took the sixth shot of the shootout after each side had scored once. "As soon as the coach told me I was taking the shootout, I knew I was going to do it," Simon said afterwards. "It was the last shot, so I knew the goalie would react to my first move. I moved to the forehand and then went back. Fortunately, it was successful."
Nerves of steel. "I haven't tried it a lot, but it's harder in practice because the goalie isn't scared of your moves. You look like a jerk when it doesn't work, but in a game it's a good play, I think."
"It's done," Canadian Jake Paterson said. "Now our focus shifts to the next game. I've seen that kind of move before, but I'm not going to blame the loss on that."
To be sure, the goalie had a rough night, but his counterpart Marek Langhamer wasn't particularly brillaint, either. It was a close game through 40 minutes, and then a bizarre third period saw Canada get three of the five goals to send the game to overtime.
The result throws Group A into disarray. The U.S. is in first place with 6 points, but Canada is second with only 4. The Slovaks have 3 and the Czechs 2, so anything is still possible, but first place is looking more Stars 'n' Stripes than Maple Leaf right now.Continue reading
The Czechs took the cheer out of the large Canadian crowd with an early goal. Some sloppy play around their own goal allowed David Kämpf to push the puck past Paterson. Paterson was making his second straight start but didn’t look sharp on that weak shot.
Canada dominated the rest of the period, though and got the only two power plays. The first one was effective but without a goal, and the second one saw Canada tie the game thanks to a fine shift from 16-year-old Connor McDavid.
He made a good rush to set up one scoring chance, and then he teamed with Bo Horvat and Sam Reinhart to make it 1-1 at 15:50. The play was textbook material, the kind of video a coach could use to teach 5-on-4 play. McDavid got the puck at the top of the faceoff circle and passed to Horvat at the side of the goal. Horvat wasted no time in finding Reinhart in the slot between all four Czech defenders, and Reinhart's quick shot found the mark.
A short time later, McDavid set up Derrick Pouliot for another great chance, but in the second period he made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons. Caught on a long shift, he took a tired hooking penalty at 15:15, and Michal Plutnar scored one second after its expiration. McDavid hadn’t even stepped on the ice by the time Plutnar’s point shot eluded Paterson.
"There were a bunch of people in front of the net, so I closed my eyes and took a slapshot. It went in. A great feeling," Plutnar said.
As time expired in the middle period McDavid fired the puck into the open Czech net after the buzzer, prompting a scrum in the corner. Plutnar hammered McDavid, earning a minor penalty.
Regardless, Canada looked anything but sharp and the Czechs looked, if nothing else, thoroughly inspired and up for the challenge. After two periods, the underdogs also found themselves with a solid 2-1 lead.
It was a short-lived advantage. Just 24 seconds into the final period, Jonathan Drouin blasted a hard shot on the fresh ice past Langhamer to make it a 2-2 game. Plutnar's fine goal was offset by his retaliatory penalty which eliminated the lead he created.
"I got mad because [McDavid] took a shot on our goalie after the period. I lost my focus. It was stupid," Plutnar admitted. "But we won the game."
Canada got a power play soon after, but off the faceoff McDavid took a lazy corkscrew-type hooking penalty, creating a 4-on-4 with a faceoff deep in the Canadian end. Right from the drop of the puck, Vojtech Tomecek snapped the puck through Paterson's legs, officially two seconds after McDavid's penalty, and the Czechs again had a lead, 3-2.
That was McDavid's last shift. He didn't re-appear until the shootout when he lost control of the puck at the top of the crease and failed to get a shot, setting the stage for Simon's winner.
Canada, ever resilient, rallied again, most improbably. After taking a too many men penalty, Canada looked in deep trouble, but a great rush by captain Scott Laughton left a giant rebound for defenceman Aaron Ekblad to bury at 11:09.
Before the penalty had expired, though, the Czechs went up 4-3. A long blast from Jakub Vrana eluded Paterson over the shoulder, another suspect goal.
Charles Hudon made up for it 16 seconds later when his wrister beat Langhamer in the same location. Call it 4-4 in a game neither team seemed able to control. The five-minute overtime was without a goal, so teams went to penalty shots to decide a victor.
Both teams next play on Monday, Canada against Slovakia and the Czechs against the Germans.
Canada v Czech Rep. (4-5 SO)
Dominik Simon scored a Peter Forsberg-style shootout goal to give the underdogs a huge victory. It was the first Czech win over Canada in U20 history.