Alexander Blank scored the winner on his second goal of the game at 1:20 from a bad angle off a left-side rush. His teammates mobbed him by the boards.
"I just had some speed and saw the defender wasn’t as fast as me and I tried to go through and then I just shot," said Blank, a 19-year-old Krefeld Pinguine forward in his first World Juniors. "I was just happy that we could earn two points in our second game and didn’t think too much about my two goals."
"Definitely our finishing touch and ability to score wasn't on the par we would like to have," Mlejnek said ruefully. "Our overall puck possession advantage wasn't enough."
Somewhat shockingly, this was the third straight Czech World Junior loss to the Germans. Germany won 3-0 on 30 December, 2013 in Malmo as netminder Martin Cupper posted a 40-save shutout and 4-3 in Ostrava on 28 December, 2019 on the strength of two Dominik Bokk goals.
Like Mlejnek, German coach Tobias Abstreiter went with a goalie seeing his first action of these 2022 World Juniors. Germany’s Florian Bugl outdueled Czechia's Jan Bednar, a World Junior rookie, as final shots favoured Czechia 40-32.
"It was a tough game for the first two periods for me, but my teammates helped me a lot on defence, blocked the shots," Bugl said. "I’m thankful that they made my life easier."
Bugl also played three games at the last World Juniors. The Landshut native posted a 2.97 GAA and 89.7 save percentage, including a 4-3 overtime win over Slovakia and a 5-4 win over Switzerland to advance to the quarter-finals.
"It’s a beautiful moment when you have a win against a hockey nation such as Czechia at a World Championship," said Abstreiter. "It’s a great feeling to sing the anthem arm in arm, but we can’t lean back now."
"I think we should have won this game," said Czechia's David Spacek. "We should have had even more shots. We have to get in front of the net more."
Bednar stoned Luca Munzenberger on a breakaway with a right pad save less than two minutes into the period. But the Germans persisted and finally broke through.
Maciej Rutkowski boogied down right wing, slipping past Stanislav Svozil’s attempted bodycheck and dropping the puck to Blank. He beat Bednar high to the short side at 4:29 and the German bench rejoiced.
Thereafter, the Germans did a good job of taking away the middle of the ice and frustrating the more skilled Czechs with active sticks. Meanwhile, Bugl was alert with a spectacular glove grab when forward Jiri Kulich came calling shortly after the midway point. Czechia struggled to generate quality scoring opportunities.
"That was just our execution," said Mysak. "We've got to be better. We got some breakaways and we didn't score. That's a simple thing."
At 15:49, Mysak finally knotted the score with a flukey power play goal. His attempted centering pass deflected in off the skate of German defender Arkadiusz Dziambor. In his third World Juniors, Mysak, who plays for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, has four career goals.
"I was kind of lucky that it went in," Mysak said. "My teammate was there alone, so I tried to pass it to him and it tipped into the net."
Less than two minutes into the third period, German blueliner Maksymilian Szuber embarked on an ambitious solo dash that saw him crashing into Bednar. No damage was done -- Szuber inquired after Bednar's health and Bednar gave him an appreciative stick tap -- but Svozil was sent off for tripping up Szuber. However, the Germans couldn't find the range with the man advantage.
Germany's next game is a tough matchup against host Canada on Wednesday.
On Monday, the Czechs did not play with a full roster. Michal Hradek served a one-game suspension for a cross-checking infraction on Canada’s Kent Johnson in the opening 6-3 loss. Fellow Czech defenceman David Jiricek was scratched with a suspected lower-body injury from that game. Meanwhile, forward Tomas Chlubna, a 19-year-old product of the Dukla Jihlava system, made his World Junior debut.
"Our game was definitely influenced by the number of defencemen we had," said Mlejnek. "It wasn't easy on that part."