BLACK BATTLES BACK TO DOWN CZECHS IN SHOOTOUT
JASON LA ROSE
MEDICINE HAT, Alta. – Danny Zhilkin (Mississauga, Ont./Guelph, OHL) scored a pair of goals, including the game-tying marker with just 1:18 to go, and Brandt Clarke (Ottawa, Ont./Barrie, OHL) finished it in Round 5 of the shootout to give Canada Black a 5-4 extra-time win over the Czech Republic on Monday afternoon at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Black erased a trio of one-goal deficits to force overtime, and withstood a spectacular 34-save effort from Tomas Suchanek to remain unbeaten in Group A.
After Shane Wright (Burlington, Ont./Kingston, OHL) and Zach Dean (Mount Pearl, N.L./Gatineau, QMJHL) had answered goals from Martin Rysavy and Jakub Altrichter in the first three rounds of the shootout, and with the game on his stick, Clarke put a low shot off the post and in past Suchanek to seal the win.
The Czechs came out looking like a different team than the one that had allowed 10 goals to the United States less than 24 hours earlier, taking a lead to the dressing room after 20 minutes.
James Malatesta (Kirkland, Que./Quebec, QMJHL) opened the scoring for the Canadians just shy of the 15-minute mark, finishing a feed from Ryan Winterton, but Michal Ramik and Rysavy buried rebounds past Black goaltender William Blackburn (Jonquière, Que./Jonquière, LHMAAAQ) in a span of 1:44 to put the Czechs up 2-1 after one.
Zhilkin got his first to tie the game midway through the second period, sneaking a shot past a screened Suchanek, only for Petr Moravec to beat Blackburn with a wrist shot from the point 24 seconds later to restore the Czech advantage.
Max McCue (Sudbury, Ont./London, OHL) equalized for Black six minutes into the third period when he crashed the net and cleaned up a Clarke rebound, but Matous Mensik took advantage of hard work behind the net by Gabriel Szturc to put the Europeans back up 4-3 with less than nine minutes left.
With Blackburn on the bench and time running out on the Canadians, Suchanek absolutely robbed Brennan Othmann (Pickering, Ont./Flint, OHL) at the side of the net. Othmann stayed with the puck and threw it in front for Zhilkin, who batted in the tying goal as he was being knocked to the ice.
Suchanek was the busier goaltender in an end-to-end overtime, turning aside five shots.
Canada Black looks to complete an unblemished preliminary round on Tuesday afternoon (3 p.m. MT) against the United States, right before the Czechs close out Group A play against Canada White (7 p.m. MT).