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Johnson dazzles as Canada beat Czechia 5-1 in Junior Hockey World Championship

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Canadian Mason McTavish (23) scores a goal against Czech goalkeeper Tomas Suchanek (30) during Second Period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship action in Edmonton on August 13, 2022.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

Kent Johnson has been working on an action for years that will stun goalkeepers and hockey fans alike.

On Saturday, he executed it in a big way by scoring a worthy highlight and helping Canada to a 5-1 victory over the Czech Republic in the Junior World Hockey Championships.

Putting the dazzling game winner away 19 minutes into the first period, Johnson scooped the puck on his stick blade behind the net, picked it up as it slid forward and whirled it over the Czech goalkeepers’ shoulder for an elusive Michigan goal.

The move, also known as a lacrosse goal, is something the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect has been working on for about six years.

I’ve been practicing that move since I was 14, and I did it, he said. Now it’s just something that’s in the toolbox.

Still, it was exciting to pull it out to give the Canadians a 2-1 lead that they never relinquished.

It’s a big goal, a really good one, said Johnson, who provided an assist in the third period. I think it was also the period I had. I think I’d be pretty pumped if it went off my skate too.

The piece drew wild cheers from the crowd of 5,135 at Rogers Place. On the ice, Johnson’s linemate Logan Stankoven held his gloved hands above his head and said Oh my God!

That was probably one of the nicest Michigans I’ve seen, honestly, said Canadian captain, Mason McTavish. He got up so quickly and at the end of the first period the ice isn’t that great. So that was something special to see. I’ll definitely look at that again.

McTavish scored twice for Canada on Saturday (3-0-0), while Ridly Greig and Tyson Foerster each found the back of the net. Jack Thompson, Ronan Seeley and Stankoven each contributed a few assists.

The Czech Republic (1-1-1) opened the score early in the first period with a shorthanded goal.

Jaroslav Chmelar was sent to the penalty area after he ran into the boards from behind Brennan Othmann, the New York Rangers candidate, and left the Canadian with a bloody nose.

The game was judged and Chmelar was ejected with game misconduct. His team had to kill a big five-minute penalty.

Rysavy gave the Czechs some breathing room and shot a shot below the bar 5:10 into the game. The puck bounced out of the net and play continued, but moments later a video review revealed that the puck had crossed the goal line.

The way Canada rallied bodes well for the rest of the tournament, Othmann said.

It’s just a little bit of adversity. And that’s OK in these games, he said. I think that builds more character for the important matches, elimination games. And it just goes to show that they were resilient. No matter who played, they kept going.

It was a busy night in the net for Czech goalkeeper Tomas Suchanek, who stopped 52 of 57 shots.

McTavish was the first to beat the netminder and tied the score at 16:44 in the opening frame by diverting Thompson’s long punch through traffic.

Seconds earlier, Suchanek made a dazzling stop to maintain his teams’ lead. Stationed to the side of the net, Johnson got a quick shot at the out of position netminder, but Suchanek slipped just in time to save a diving glove.

I was a bit lucky, the Czech goalkeeper admitted. The puck went into the slot and I saw it going to pass it and I just reached out my glove and he just shot it into my glove. I was like Oh my god what just happened? I saw the rerun and it was pretty fun. I just said to myself Well done and I kept going.

Canada head coach Dave Cameron said he was nervous early in the game about how well Suchanek played.

This tournament, with the games getting better and the competition tougher, you have to keep going, he said. “(Suchanek) was really good and we persevered and found a way.

On the other side of the ice, Dylan Garand made 22 saves to take his second win of the tournament for the Canadians.

Canada took a 3-1 lead of 4:48 in the frame thanks to a power play goal.

Czech Gabriel Szturc was called up for roughness and five seconds into the man advantage, Greig tapped in Seeley’s shot for his second goal of the tournament.

Canada was 1 for 3 on Saturday’s power play, while the Czech Republic went 0 for 2.

Teenage phenom Connor Bedard scored Canada’s fourth goal of the evening, cutting a sharp pass to McTavish, who was alone at the top of the slot. He made his way inside and shot through the goalkeepers’ legs for his second goal of the game at 11:05 in the second.

Foerster sealed the score at 7:39 in the third period, collected a pass from Johnson in the middle of the slot, finished and fired a huge shot past Suchanek to give the Canadians a 5-1 advantage.

Earlier on Saturday, the reigning national champion Americans (3-0-0) remained unbeaten with a lopsided 7-0 win over Austria (0-3-0).

Austrian goalkeeper Leon Sommer stopped 49 of the 56 shots he encountered.

I like those kinds of games, he said with a smile. Lots of shots.

Saturday’s workload wasn’t the biggest Sommer has borne in world junior action, taking 64 shots in an 11-2 loss to Canada before COVID-19 rocked the original 2022 tournament in December.

I think I’ll get the tricky one, said the keeper. But I like that one.

In the last game on Saturday, Germany will play (1-1-0) against the scoreless Switzerland (0-2-0).

Canada closes the round robin game against Finland (2-0-0) on Monday.

The preliminary round lasts until Monday, with the quarter-finals on Wednesday. The semifinals are scheduled for Friday and the medal matches will be played next Saturday.

McTavish leads the tournament with 10 points (six goals, four assists).

Canada has outdone its opponents 21-4 in the first three games of the tournament.

Both sides came off a rest day after Canada defeated Slovakia 11-1 on Thursday, while the Czechs lost 4-3 the same day in a shootout to Finland.

Sources

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