Kraken Prospect Shocker
Despite a goal and an assist by Seattle Kraken forward and Team Canada captain Shane Wright, the Canadians lost their World Junior Championship opener for the first time in twenty-five years with a 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic.
Czechia scored two goals 35-seconds apart late in the first period to take a 2-1 lead and then got the eventual game winner just 44-seconds into the second period to put Team Canada on its heels.
Wright opened the overall scoring at the 10:33 mark with a slot deflection of a Olen Zellweger wrist shot on the power play. Zellweger is the high scoring, left-shot defenseman for the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League.
The initial Canadian lead lasted a little more than seven minutes.
In the second period Wright helped spring Connor Bedard on a breakaway goal that cut Czechia’s lead to 3-2 at the 1:29 mark. Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Kevin Korchinski had the other assist. That ended Canada’s scoring.
Czechia put the game away in the second period with two goals on a five-minute power play.
“[Czechia] was the better team tonight,” top Kraken prospect Wright stated postgame. “We gave them way too many opportunities and made it way too easy for them. We did not make it hard on them in the defensive zone, and they were able to skate through the neutral zone easily. We took too many penalties, and that is something we need to clean up for our next game. Hats off to them, but we will take a lot of things away from tonight and look to improve for our next game.”
Undrafted Tri-City Americans goaltender Tomáš Suchánek starred for the victors, turning aside 36 of Canada’s 38 shots on goal. Czechia finished with 27 shots.
Another undrafted Washington-based Western Hockey League netminder, Thomas Milic of the Thunderbirds, from Coquitlam, BC, also impressed. He took over just before the midway point of the hockey game for Canadian starter Benjamin Gaudreau and went a perfect 10-for-10 on stops.
Another of his WHL Seattle teammates, forward Reid Schaefer, saw limited action, playing a total of 6:15 as a fourth liner.
Believe it or not, there was a fourth T-bird played Monday evening for Team Canada. Defenseman Nolan Allan, a recent acquisition from the Prince Albert Raiders, played 17:59 and fired three shots on goal.
Canada will have a day off to dwell on the loss. They next play Wednesday against Germany at 3:30 pm pacific time. The Czech Republic lads get to jump right back into a game in which they’ll be heavy favorites against Austria on Tuesday.
While Wright plays for Canada, his Kraken teammates will be preparing for a game at Climate Pledge Arena on Wednesday evening against the Calgary Flames.