Canada won their second straight game to open their pre-tournament schedule in their final game before they announce their final roster.
There was a scary moment in the first as Jake Virtanen took a blind side hit to the head which led to a two minute minor and 10 minute misconduct, but Virtanen immediately was smiling and took the first shift on the power play. Canada is a team with not much World Junior experience, especially with questions surrounding the health of Brayden Point. It was encouraging to see Virtanen, who is the lone NHL player on Team Canada, not have any ill effects from the hit.
It was also a much better start for Montreal Canadiens first round pick Noah Juulsen. He made several nice defensive plays in the first and kept some offensive pressure with nice pinches and passes. He also played well on the penalty kill as well. He blocked a shot on the penalty kill early in the second and laboured to the bench. He did return.
Canada opened the scoring when Rourke Chartier put home a cross-crease pass from Anthony Beauvillier in the second period that capped a bunch of scoring chances on both sides.
Mackenzie Blackwood, who will start the tournament with a two-game suspension as the IIHF honours league suspensions, made a great save just minutes before. He made 11 saves in a busy second period as Canada once again ran into penalty trouble.
The Czechs have some offensive talent including New Jersey first round pick Pavel Zacha, and their level compared to Belarus yesterday isn't really close.
Mitchell Stevens made a great play in the third period as he dropped his stick on the penalty kill but slid to block a pass and cleared the zone. He was one of the forwards to solidify his spot with Chartier and Travis Konecny.
Canada allowed the Czechs to have four power plays but killed them all off. It's a good sign they are killing them off but other teams will have a better power play than the Czechs as they go forward. There obviously is an adjustment period to get used to International officiating as well.
You have to be concerned that Canada scored three goals in their last four periods after five to open the game in the first period against Belarus. However, the Czechs are notoriously stingy in their own end, and Vitek Vanecek was very good. Vanecek plays in North America in the ECHL.
The final four cuts for Team Canada are expected today as the team will be in its final form for their final pre-tournament game on Wednesday.