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By Jason La Rose, Hockey Canada

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. Robin Vsetecka scored a goal and set up three more, and the Czech Republic erased a two-goal deficit in the second period to earn a 6-4 win over the Canada East in the final game of the preliminary round Friday at the 2019 World Junior A Challenge.

The win sends the Czechs to a semifinal showdown with Russia on Saturday night (7 p.m. MT), right after the Canadians take on the United States (2 p.m. MT) in their final-four match-up.

Filip Prikryl opened and closed the scoring, and David Jindra had a goal and an assist for the Czechs, who entered the second period down 3-1 and left with a 4-3 lead.

Prikryl took advantage of a two-man advantage to get the offence started early, kicking a rebound from skate to stick and tucking it past Canadian goaltender Devon Levi (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que./Carleton Place, CCHL).

But the rest of the opening period belonged to Canada East, which counted three goals in 11 minutes.

Philippe Chapleau (Longueuil, Que./Longueuil, LHJAAAQ) tied the game less than two minutes after the Prikryl goal, going bar-down with a Colby MacArthur (Summerside, P.E.I./Summerside, MHL) rebound, and Ryan Alexander (Toronto, Ont./St. Michael’s, OJHL) tipped in a point shot from Tucker McIntosh (Toronto, Ont./Ottawa, CCHL) to give East its first lead at 13:14.

Charles Tremblay (Saint-Félicien, Que./Longueuil, LHJAAAQ) made it 3-1 on the power play near the end of the period, hammering a one-timer off a cross-ice feed from Jérémy Laframboise (Sainte-Catherine, Que./Longueuil, LHJAAAQ).

But the tide started to turn early in the second; Vsetecka was left alone in front to finish a centring pass from Jindra at 2:17, and Jakub Rychlovsky beat Levi with a pretty move to the backhand at 6:46 to tie the game.

The teams looked destined to head to the intermission even, but a late East penalty led to a power-play goal from Matej Morong, who watched a pass from Marcel Barinka deflect off his skate and past Levi to make it 4-3.

Jindra gave the Czechs some breathing room midway through the third period when he chipped a rebound up and over Levi, but Cole O’Hara (Richmond Hill, Ont./North York, OJHL) made it a one-goal game again with 4:14 left.

East would get no closer, though, and Prikryl hit the empty net from his own zone to cap the scoring.

Both goaltenders were busy throughout; the Czechs finished with a 39-30 advantage in shots on goal.


Photo credit: Murray Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images