SYDNEY, N.S. – If Monday’s Czech Republic-Quebec game had ended after two periods, it would have been called a great defensive battle. Unfortunately for Quebec, the Czechs scored four unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to break open a 1-1 tie and claim a 5-1 victory.
Quebec quickly capitalized on an early power play when Nicolas Meloche (Rosemère, Que./Baie-Comeau, LHJMQ) set up Anthony Beauvillier (Sorel, Que./Shawinigan, LHJMQ) for the game’s first goal just 1:16 in, the lone scoring play of the first period.
The Czechs drew even early in the second period when forward Simon Stransky made a great individual effort, deking through four Quebec players before beating goaltender Callum Booth (Montreal, Que./Québec, LHJMQ) with the first shot of the period at 1:56.
Booth was fantastic in the middle frame, turning aside the other 13 shots he faced to keep his team in what was then a very close game.
Defense was key for both teams, with the Czechs and Canadians clearing the front of the net at every opportunity and keeping rebounds to a minimum.
The Czech defense corps was particularly solid in the neutral zone, cutting off countless stretch passes from the Quebec defensemen and making sure that entering their defensive zone was a tough task.
The third period belonged to the Czechs, and it started early; David Kase split the Quebec defense before roofing a backhand over Booth just 23 seconds after the puck dropped to begin the final frame, and Roman Dymacek doubled the lead less than two minutes later.
Josef Zajic scored into an empty net to make it 4-1 in the final minute before Dymacek capped the scoring with 23 seconds left, his second of the period.
Both teams will be back in action Tuesday, both in North Sydney, N.S.; the Czechs will take on West in a matinee (2 p.m. AT), before Quebec meets Sweden in the night cap (7 p.m. AT).
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)