ROLLO SCORES TWICE IN THIRD TO SEND CANADA EAST TO WJAC SEMIS
WHITBY, Ont. – Tyler Rollo (Burlington, Ont./Oakville, OJHL) scored the game-tying and eventual game-winning goals in the third period, leading Canada East to a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic on Wednesday night and clinching a spot in the semifinals at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.
With the win, Canada East will meet Canada West in an all-Canadian semifinal on Thursday night in Cobourg (7 p.m. ET). It’s the first time since 2012 the two Canadian teams will face off in the semis.
Lucas Batt (Lewisporte, N.L./Carleton Place, CCHL) had the other goal for Canada East – set up by Rollo – while goaltender Nicholas Latinovich (Maple, Ont./Orangeville, OJHL) recorded 33 saves.
The Czechs scored the lone goal of the first period when Latinovich played the puck off the skate of his defenceman and onto the stick of Jiri Karafiat, who opened the scoring at 5:12.
A lucky bounce of its own helped Canada East in the second; the puck ricocheted off a Czech defender and landed in the slot, where Batt made no mistake, beating Josef Korenar to tie the game on the power play.
Rollo took over from there, scoring twice in a span of 3:15 in the third to turn a tie game into a two-goal lead.
He made it 2-1 at 10:16 when Batt cut off a pass in the Czech zone and fed Rollo, who ripped a wrist shot just under the crossbar, and pushed the lead to two at 13:31 after Josh Kosack (Oakville, Ont./Oakville, OJHL) found him alone at the face-off to beat Korenar once again.
The Czechs cut into the Canada East lead with just 2:22 left thanks to a quick shot from Kristian Reichel that made its way through a screen and past Latinovich, but that would be as close as they would get.
Canada East survived a late six-on-four advantage for the Czechs to clinch their ninth trip to the semifinals in the 10-year history of the tournament.
Special teams played a big part in the Canadian win; the easterners killed off all seven power play opportunities for the Czechs, and converted on their lone try with the man advantage.
Final shots on goal in the game favoured the Czechs, 35-30.
The loss means the Czech Republic will play for fifth place; it will take on Switzerland on Friday night in Cobourg (7 p.m. ET).