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 is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.