REGINA — Pool B’s top teams will meet Saturday at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and the result could have serious playoff implications.
The Czech Republic (1-0-1) plays undefeated Pacific (2-0) in Regina, and needs to win if they are to have a shot at first place in the pool. Czech coach Zdenek Cech suggested they could knock off Pacific if they get more scoring.
“We know (Pacific) will be forechecking hard, and they will go forward. If our defence and our players succeed on one-on-one battles and get the puck, then we have a pretty good chance to succeed in the game too,” Cech said through an interpreter.
While Pacific has outscored its first two opponents 16-7, the Czech’s offensive numbers have been more modest, with six goals for, and four against. The Czech coach thought there was reason to believe his club may have more goals in their future.
“Finland was one step ahead of us, so we couldn’t score with our chances. We had plenty of two-on-ones and three-on-ones, but we couldn’t score. We are happy because it was a good effort,” Cech said.
Momentum is key in short round-robin tournaments, and Pacific coach Craig Bedard noted playing a late game one night and the early game the next day could impact how the team prepares for the important game.
“We will make a few adjustments, but as far as the game plan goes, and the game preparation goes, nothing changes,” Bedard said. “It’s a long tournament and rest will be important as it goes on.”
One of Bedard’s goals for Pacific is to be a consistent club throughout the tournament. While the statistics would state that goal is in reach, the coach noted there’s still room to grow.
“We are still trying to get better each and every day,” Bedard said. “Obviously, with a couple of wins and the exhibition game, we are happy with the start. But there is still a lot of work to do. Winning is nice and it helps with that tea-building phase, but … it’s still early.”
Game time at the Brandt Centre is 1 p.m.