"Our power play was huge tonight," said Liam Foudy. "They took some penalties and we capitalized on them. We were on the power play for a long time. That's the kind of start we wanted, and everyone contributed. The fans were awesome as well. It was a great atmosphere."
The result means Canada finishes in first place in Group B and will now face Slovakia in one quarter-finals in Ostrava. The loss means the Czechs finish in fourth place and will also stay in Ostrava to face top-seed Sweden from Group A in the late game.
"We have a lot of skill on this team, and the last two games I think we've developed a lot of chemistry," said Nolan Foote. "We're all connecting now."
"We wanted to win tonight, but we made it to the quarter-finals, and that's all that matters now," said Czech captain Libor Zabransky. "And now, everybody can beat everybody. We took lots of penalties in the first period tonight, and they scored four times. That cost us the game."
Canada got another rock solid performance from goalie Joel Hofer, and the forwards exerted relentless puck pressure at the start to get the team off on the right foot.
Tonight’s game was pretty much over after 20 minutes thanks to a series of penalties to the Czechs. Ironically, they had an early power play of their own and couldn’t convert, but Canada scored on its first chance at 4:41 when Joe Veleno knocked in a rebound from the back side after goalie Lukas Parik stopped a hard shot from captain Barrett Hayton.
Five minutes later, with another man advantage, Bowen Byram teed up a soft pass to Foote. His rocket beat Parik over the glove at 9:57.
A minute later, Canada scored again on the same major penalty. This time Connor McMichael got to a loose puck and smacked it in. Parik was injured on the play and had to leave, giving way to Nick Malik.
That fourth power-play goal tied the U20 record set previously in 2013 by the USA and in 1988 by Czechoslovakia.
The second period was full of more fireworks in the form of goals, penalties, and records. The Czechs came out and, to their credit, went to work, trying to cut into that huge Canada lead. They started things off at 11:10 with a power-play goal of their own when Vojtech Strondala got to a rebound before Jacob Bernard-Docker could check him. 4-1.
While the fans were still celebrating, Zabransky made things more chaotic when he took a pass in the slot and ripped a shot past Hofer just 14 seconds later, making it 4-2. Game on!
But while this celebration was going on, Canada got a major break. Ty Smith got to centre and dumped the puck in along the boards, but it took a weird bounce and came right in front of the goal while Malik was behind the net getting ready to play the puck. Liam Foudy tapped it in for the easy empty-netter at 11:34.
Those three goals were the fastest three goals by both teams in U20 history—24 seconds.
We weren’t done yet. Czech coach Vaclav Varada gambled on that Foudy goal, and challenged it based on a possible offside. If he were wrong, the team would incur a bench-minor penalty, and that’s exactly what happened. The goal counted, and the Czechs were down 4-on-5 once again.
And Canada pounced—again. This time Dylan Cozens tipped in a point shot, restoring Canada’s four-goal bulge and sending the large contingent of Canadians into wild celebration while silencing the Czech fans.
Jared McIsaac padded the lead midway through the third when his long shot went all the way.