Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Czechs crushed by Canada at WJC, Sparta 0-2 at Spengler Cup

When Antonín Honejsek of the Moose Jaw Warriors opened the scoring for the Czech Republic just 49 seconds after the opening faceoff, perhaps some thought the pre-game predictions of a one-sided Canadian victory wouldn't come to fruition. However, Canada cashed in on the power play twice late in the opening frame to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

Still, the game was within reach. In the sixth minute of the second period, Canadian Zack Kassian hit Czech defenceman Petr Šenkeřík in open ice, a collision between two number 9s, and Šenkeřík went down. He remained on the ice for some time before being removed from the ice on a stretcher. Kassian's shoulder caught Šenkeřík in the jaw, and though there did not appear to be any attempt to target the head, he was assessed a match penalty, which results in an automatic one-game suspension and a disciplinary review to be led by former NHL referee Dan Marouelli to see if further punishment is warranted. As of yet, there is no word on Šenkeřík's status, or of any further disciplinary action against Kassian.

At this point, the Czechs were given a five-minute power-play and a golden opportunity to get back into the game. Honejsek almost did just that when he beat two Canadian penalty-killers single-handedly before being turned back by Canadian goaltender Olivier Roy in an attempt to score his second goal of the game. Seconds later, Louis LeBlanc converted on a pretty play short-handed to give Canada a 3-1 lead, and for the Czech Republic it was all downhill from that point.

In the end, it was 7-2, with Jakub Jeřábek of Plzeň 1929 scoring a late goal. Martin Frk of the Halifax Mooseheads was also assessed a spearing major and a game misconduct in the third period, and could also face further disciplinary action.

Now 1-1, the Czechs play Sweden on Thursday and Russia on Friday. They will have to beat at least one of them in order to advance to the quarter-finals.

Sparta celebrates an early goal, but the lead didn't last.
At the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, Sparta Praha will play in the quarter-finals despite losing both games of its group stage, as all teams in the tournament go at least that far. On Wednesday, they fell 4-1 to SKA St. Petersburg. Petr Kafka opened the scoring for Sparta, but the KHL club responded with two goals late in the first period and never looked back.

Sparta defenceman Doug O'Brien, who hasn't seen any action yet in the tournament, will hope to get back into the lineup on Wednesday when his team plays against Team Canada at 20:15 Central European Time (2:15 PM ET). The game can be seen in Canada on TSN2 and in Europe on Eurosport 2.

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