CZECHS HOLD ON TO BEAT WHITE, WIN U17 BRONZE
JASON LA ROSE
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Matej Toman scored in the first period, Michal Teply added the game-winner in the second and the Czech Republic survived a frantic third period to beat Canada White 2-1 and win the bronze medal Saturday at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Nick Malik made 29 saves to backstop the Czechs, who won their first U17 medal since 2006 and avenged a 7-2 preliminary-round loss to the Canadians.
With the pro-Canadian crowd at the Encana Events Centre backing the boys in White, it was the Czech Republic that struck first; after a shot from the point rattled around in front, Toman found the loose puck and beat Taylor Gauthier (Calgary, Alta./Prince George, WHL) just past the nine-minute mark.
Teply doubled the advantage at 12:43 of the second, playing keep-away from the Canadians before cutting into the slot and snapping a quick shot past Gauthier on the short side.
Neither team could get much going offensively in the first two periods, with the Czechs holding a narrow 16-15 advantage in shots through 40 minutes, but White ramped up its efforts in the third.
Malik was under siege in the final frame, making 14 stops, but the Canadians came up empty time and time again, including a post by Nathan Staios (Oakville, Ont./Windsor, OHL) midway through the period.
Graeme Clarke (Ottawa, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) finally broke through for White, going five-hole on Malik for a power-play goal with 3:03 remaining, but that would be it for scoring.
The Czechs completed a remarkable in-tournament turnaround; they lost all three of their preliminary-round games and were outscored 17-4 – ranking at the bottom of Group A, and tied with Sweden for the worst goal differential – before upsetting Russia in the quarter-finals and falling to Canada Red in the semis on a late goal.