CANADA BEATS CZECHS TO FINISH PERFECT PRELIMS
JASON LA ROSE
BRECLAV, Czech Republic – Hendrix Lapierre (Gatineau, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL) had a goal and two assists and Quinton Byfield (Newmarket, Ont./Sudbury, OHL) scored twice, helping Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team to a 6-1 win over the Czech Republic in the preliminary-round finale Wednesday at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
The victory caps off a dominant prelims for the Canadians, who outscored Finland, Switzerland the Czechs by a combined 21-1. They will face Sweden in the semifinals on Friday (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT).
Canada spread around the scoring, with six different players finding the back of the net and nine registering at least a point. Jean-Luc Foudy (Scarborough, Ont./Windsor, OHL) was the only other Canadian with multiple points, recording a goal and a helper.
Not surprisingly it was Cole Perfetti (Whitby, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) who opened the scoring, redirecting a centring pass from Jamie Drysdale (Toronto, Ont./Erie, OHL) past Czech goaltender Jan Bednar for his fifth goal in three games.
Byfield got his first of the tournament with just two seconds to go in the first period, banging home a loose puck on the power play after Lapierre hit the post.
He scored again just shy of the seven-minute mark of the second, beating Bednar with a slick between-the-legs shot from in tight for another man-advantage marker, and Connor McClennon (Wainwright, Alta./Winnipeg, WHL) took advantage of a friendly bounce and made it 4-0 before the end of the middle frame.
Michal Gut finally solved Canadian netminder Tristan Lennox (Cambridge, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) early in the third period – the first (and only) goal allowed by Canada in the preliminary round.
Lapierre got that back three minutes later, going five-hole on a shorthanded breakaway, and Ridly Greig (Lethbridge, Alta./Brandon, WHL) and Foudy scored three-and-a-half minutes apart in the back half of the final stanza to finish the scoring.
The 21 goals are the most for Canada in the preliminary round since 2004, and the second-most ever (it scored 24 times in three round-robin games in 2002), while the single goal against is the best-ever defensive performance.