SYDNEY, N.S. – Nathan Noel (St. John’s, N.L./Saint John, QMJHL) scored twice and added two assists to lead the way as Atlantic topped the Czech Republic 5-2 in pre-World Under-17 Hockey Challenge action on Saturday night.
Noel is one of two players, along with captain Luc Deschênes (Fredericton, N.B./Charlottetown, QMJHL) back for a second tour with Atlantic after playing as underagers at last year’s tournament in Quebec.
Colby Tower (Troy, N.S./Valley, MHL) had two goals and Jean-Michel LeBlanc (Saint John, N.B./Saint John, NBPEIMMHL) added one for Atlantic, while Deschênes chipped in with two assists in the win.
David Kase and Frantisek Wagner scored goals for the Czech Republic.
It didn’t take long for Atlantic to open the scoring, with Tower banging in a Deschênes rebound on the power play just 25 seconds after the puck dropped, getting the Centre 200 crowd into the game early.
But Kase drew even just over eight minutes later, scooping up a rebound and beating Atlantic netminder Blade Mann-Dixon (Antigonish, N.S./Valley, MHL), sending the game to the intermission tied 1-1.
Noel, on the power play, and LeBlanc scored 38 seconds apart in the second period for a 3-1 advantage for the Canadian side, but Wagner’s goal late in the second period made it a one-goal game heading to the third.
Noel struck again 7:36 into the third period with the undisputed goal of the night while Atlantic was shorthanded, dancing around a Czech defender before sliding the puck five-hole on goaltender Ales Stezka, giving the Canadians a little bit of insurance.
Tower closed the scoring with less than three minutes to go, providing the final margin of victory.
Atlantic won’t see the ice on the tournament’s opening day, getting its schedule started when it faces Ontario on Monday night (7 p.m. AT) in Sydney, while the Czechs take on Sweden on Sunday afternoon (2 p.m. AT) in North Sydney, N.S.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)