World Juniors

Czechs Stun U.S. Behind Mrazek's Heroics

Friday, 12.30.2011 / 7:53 PM ET / World Juniors
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Czechs Stun U.S. Behind Mrazek\'s Heroics
EDMONTON -- Petr Holik scored twice and Tomas Filippi once in the third period and goalie Petr Mrazek made it stand behind a heroic 52-save performance as the Czech Republic scored a stirring 5-2 victory over the U.S. National Junior Team on Friday in Group B preliminary-round play of the World Junior Championship at Rexall Place.

The loss all but knocks the United States out of medal-round contention, something that hasn't happened to the country since 1999. Winless Denmark would have to defeat Finland in regulation on Friday night in order for the U.S. to have any hope at advancing into the medal round scheduled to begin Jan. 2.

The U.S. is next scheduled to play Team Canada on New Year's Eve, but a Finland win in regulation Friday would make that game meaningless as far as the USA's hopes.

Holik scored the winning goal when he collected a rebound at the left post and backhanded an attempt by goalie Jack Campbell to give the Czechs their first lead of the contest with 7:34 remaining. Jiri Sekac made the play happen when he drove to the net and uncorked a big backhand that Campbell initially stopped. The U.S. goalie couldn't get his pad to the post quick enough to deny Holik on the rebound.

Filippi then connected off a turnover in the U.S. end off a feed from captain Tomas Nosek with 2:41 on the clock to ultimately seal the deal. The goal sent the entire Czech team into celebration mode as Filippi skated up ice and began a slide from the red line into his own end. Mrazek would eventually topple, head-over-skates, on top of him.
Holik scored into an empty net with 1:26 on the clock to close out the scoring.

While the goals came in bunches for the Czechs over the final 10 minutes of the third period, this game was all about the sensational play between the pipes by Mrazak, who made 21 saves in the third.

Josh Archibald had a golden opportunity to put the U.S. in front for the third time in the game when he was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped to ice by Jiri Riha while breaking away for a potential one-on-one opportunity against Mrazek. He went to his backhand on the penalty shot, but despite having Mrazek beat on the short side, missed the cage.

With 12:54 remaining in the third, U.S. forward J.T. Miller just missed giving his country the lead when his whistler from the left circle rang off the crossbar behind Mrazek.

Despite allowing the United States six power-play opportunities over the first two periods, Mrazek turned aside 31 shots as the Czechs, while attempting to play a physical game, were penalized time and again for being overly aggressive.

The U.S. opened a 2-1 lead on its second power-play goal of the game when Bill Arnold cleaned up a rebound to Mrazek's right at the 11:50 mark of the second period. Jason Zucker took the initial shot from the low in the right circle that deflected off the pads of Mrazek and onto the stick of a well-positioned Arnold.

The lead was short-lived, however, as U.S. forward T.J. Tynan made an ill-advised pass from the his own corner towards the middle of the ice that was easily picked off by Tomas Hertl. Campbell had retrieved the puck and fed to Tynan to begin a transition. After intercepting the pass, Hertl skated in and deposited a nifty backhand to Campbell's long side.

The Czechs survived an offensive barrage by the U.S. in the first to enter the intermission in a 1-1 deadlock.

Campbell, making his first start since the tournament opener against Denmark, has stopped 17 shots.

The U.S. was given an extended power-play just 2:21 into the game when Czech forward Petr Straka was issued a five-minute boarding penalty and game misconduct. Straka leveled U.S. defenseman Derek Forbort along the boards at center ice. Forbort remained on the ice for several minutes before being helped off the ice by teammates. He did not receive another shift in the period -- shortening the U.S. blue line to six players.

Tynan made the Czechs pay when he converted a picturesque feed from J.T. Miller from in tight at the 5:14 mark to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. The Czechs did a marvelous job killing off the remainder of the penalty, however, and even killed off a later two-minor minor before Tomas Filippi knotted the score at the 12:05 mark. Filippi's initial shot from low in the right circle was initially stopped by Campbell, before he jammed in the rebound when the goalie couldn't control the rebound while opened the five-hole.

The U.S. closed out the period with a four-minute power-play after Petr Zamorsky was whistled for a double minor for high sticking. Mrazek was his usual sharp self between the pipes, making several big stop, including a juicy rebound off the stick of Miller with 38.9 seconds remaining.

Author: Mike G. Morreale | Staff Writer




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
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